Irrfan Khan Joins Refugee Drama 'Lions of the Sea'

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The 'Slumdog Millionaire' star toplines the true-life drama about 376 South Asian ocean passengers denied entry to Canada in 1914.

Inferno star Irrfan Khan has nabbed the lead in Lions of the Sea, a refugee drama to be co-produced by Bollywood star Salman Khan and Ajay Virmani's First Take Entertainment.

Khan, whose movie credits include Slumdog Millionaire, Life of Pi and The Amazing Spider-Man, will play the real-life Sikh businessman Gurdit Singh, who in 1914 chartered the Japanese ship Komagata Maru to carry 376 south Asian passengers to Canada to challenge the anti-immigration policies then in place.

The ship was denied entry into Vancouver, prompting a human rights incident and an apology in May 2016 by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "Just as cinema today transcends borders, Lions of the Sea is a story reflective of challenging barriers and breaking them, irrespective of differences in language and race," Khan said in a statement.

The Canada-India co-production will shoot next year in India, Britain, Hong Kong and Canada, with Mumbai-based Salman Khan Films and Toronto-based First Take Entertainment producing.

"It is imperative to tell this story as it mirrors the current global refugee crisis. Lions of the Sea will allow us to embrace multiculturalism, diversity and bring humanity closer together," Khan said Tuesday in his own statement.

Vinay Virmani and Pauline Dhillon will share producer credits.