The Black Prince lead actor Satinder Sartaaj may have been the first turbaned Sikh to grace the red carpet of the Cannes Film Festival.
“Honored to be the first turbaned Sikh to walk the #RedCarpet,” he shared in a Facebook posting on 21 May 2017.
“The Black Prince” movie opens tomorrow in Los Angeles and other places.
In a promotional synopsis, the movie has been described as a tragic, yet fascinating true story about the last King of the mighty Kingdom of Punjab, Maharaja Duleep Singh.
The King, Maharaja Duleep Singh, was placed on the throne at the age of five only to be robbed of his throne by a bloody treason at the hands of trusted courtiers.
He was then torn from his mother and taken to England by the British at age fifteen. While in England, he was introduced to Queen Victoria, who took an immediate liking to him, calling him “The Black Prince”. He was indoctrinated into Christianity and baptized, changing his life forever, the synopsis added.
Meeting his mother again after thirteen years, the Maharaja awakens to the realities of his former life in Punjab. He then begins the arduous journey to regain all that was lost and re-embrace the faith of his birth, Sikhism.
Torn between his two worlds, The Black Prince begins a lifelong struggle to regain his Kingdom. It takes him on an extraordinary journey across the world.
In an article in the LA Times, Shashank Bengali writes that the Duleep became the ruler of the Sikh kingdom, had the throne stolen from him, was separated from his mother, had his face spattered with the blood of a slain uncle and was carted off to become an aristocrat in Queen Victoria’s Britain — all before his 16th birthday.
The life of Maharajah Duleep Singh never lacked for drama. Now a feature film brings to life this little-known chapter of Indian colonial history.
The movie tells the story of Singh, the last king and a tragic hero of the once-prosperous Sikh kingdom that spread across the fertile northern plains of India’s Punjab until British soldiers annexed the territory following two wars in the mid-19th century.
Singh — like the famed Koh-i-noor diamond that the British also seized from the kingdom — became a spoil of war. He was molded into a proper English gentleman, made to renounce his Sikh faith and baptized a Christian, and taught to shoot a hunting rifle — although he always wore a turban.
He became an exotic favorite in the court of Victoria, who nicknamed him “the black prince.” But as he attempted to recapture his identity, he reconverted to Sikhism and struggled to return to India before dying in poverty in Paris in 1893 at age 55.
“The Black Prince” also features Shabana Azmi, a well-known Indian actress, in the role of the exiled king’s mother, who was reunited with him in Britain after 13 years. In the film, her brief, fiery encounters with Victoria (played by Amanda Root) emphasise the plunder that marked British colonial rule, he writes.
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