MUMBAI: Director Deepa Mehta and actor Akshay Kumar, who have joined hands to co-produce the $35 million film Komagata Maru, have roped in debutant actor Vinay Virmani for the character of Mewa Singh.
Virmani is a recent graduate of the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute of New York.
Mewa Singh, a young Sikh man, enraged by the injustice and duplicity he and his countrymen were subjected to, assassinated at point blank range William Charles Hopkinson. Hopinkson was the principal conspirator against the shipload of refugees of the Komagata Maru. Mewa Singh was sentenced to hang for his crime. He is considered a martyr and a hero by Indians around the world who commemorate his death every year on 11 January, the date of his execution. This day is known as the Mewa Singh Martyr Day.
"The arc of Mewa Singh’s character begins as a young man of innocence filled with hope and ends with an enraged man transformed by anger into a seeker for justice. I wanted a new fresh face to render this role and after much consideration I selected Vinay. He is talented, eager and passionate. Qualities essential for the young Mewa Singh," says Mehta.
Kumar adds, "I am delighted to have Vinay as part of our cast. Mewa Singh is a significant character in the film. His contributions and sacrifice were a true testament to human struggles for freedom. Mewa Singh was one of the bravest Sikhs of his time. I am confident Vinay will do justice to this great humanitarian."
"It is both incredibly exciting and slightly daunting to be given the challenge of playing a historical figure of such significance to my community. I am looking forward to being a part of this incredible film," says Virmani.
Komagata Maru is an epic film based on a true story surrounding the voyage of the ship Komagata Maru from India to Vancouver with 376 passengers on board seeking a new life in the promise land. Komagata Maru is a Canadian production being produced by Hamilton-Mehta Productions Inc. in association with Akshay Kumar’s home production, Hariom Entertainment. The film is currently in pre-production and will begin full production in September 2009. The story will be filmed in various locations around the world.