Actor-singer Satinder Sartaj, who played lead role in the upcoming film “The Black Prince”, says this character in the film has humanised the character of the last king of the Sikh empire, Maharaja Duleep Singh. He said that people will get to know the vulnerable side of Maharaja Duleep Singh after watching the film, the story of Maharaja Duleep Singh, Satinder said: “The story of ‘The Black Prince’ unveils the vulnerable side of Maharaja Duleep Singh.”
The Black Prince is a bilingual film (Punjabi and English) emphasising the importance of telling “In our (Sikh) history, he has never been considered as a king and he is not really respected because he is the only king from the royal family who converted from Sikhism to Christianity. So, that was a huge punch on the chest of the Punjabis and Sikhs… but was that his choice?”
Maharaja Duleep Singh was the only child of Rani Jind Kaur. After the first Anglo-Sikh war between 1845 and 1846, she was imprisoned and kept away from her son for over a decade.
Analysing the life journey of the king, the actor said: “He was the victim of the political situation. One of the reasons why they (British Empire) make Duleep Singh-ji a womaniser, a hunter, converted him to Christianity and indulged him in all things materialistic….
“To keep him away from his roots, his culture and long lost empire… at the young age of 18, getting attracted to such materialistic pleasure was the obvious thing for him. However, the change in his thoughts happened when Singh-ji met his mother Maharani Jind Kaur.”
As a debutant, how was the process to internalise the character? “I want to share something personal. I am a Sikh with a turban. It is my pride. During the look test, I had to remove my turban for the first time ever in my life,” Satinder said.
“Standing in front of the mirror, realising how Maharaja Duleep Singh would have felt after meeting his mother and realising his religious and cultural values… that he is away from for so many years… I was shaken from within. I think that was a moment for me. I immediately felt connected to the character.” While the king’s character is narrated by Satinder, veteran actress Shabana Azmi will be seen playing Maharani Jind Kaur.
For Satinder, it was intimidating for the first few moments to even stand next to the actress. “I am one of the fortunate and privileged actors who not only got a chance to work with her, but also learn a lot. I am a stage performer and my body language is a little loud for the obvious reason.
“But she made me understand that while giving close-up shots, even the smallest movement of my eyes can convey a lot… so, at times less is more. She is wonderful, not just as an actress but a human being too,” he said. The Kavi Raz directorial, which premiered at the Manchester Film Festival on March 3, will release on July 21.