Life Less Ordinary

Filmmaker Kavi Raz on his next, The Black Prince, a film on Maharaja Duleep Singh, working with a British cast, having Shabana Azmi and Satinder Sartaj on board, and decoding the story of the Kohinoor

A KING at the age of five, separated from his mother at 11 and exiled to England at 15. The life of Punjab’s last Sikh ruler Maharaja Duleep Singh, the youngest son of the mighty Maharaja Ranjit Singh, is a story of trials, tribulations and tragedies. Taken to England by the British, who saw this young king as a threat to their empire in India, Maharaja Duleep Singh grew up under the patronage of Queen Victoria. Converted to Christianity, he met his mother again after 13 years. The Maharaja, torn between two worlds began a journey to connect to his roots and converted again to Sikhism. Fighting the British till the end, he died alone, a pauper in Paris, at the age of 55.

Hollywood brings to life his story through The Black Prince (as Queen Victoria called him) on the silver screen, a chapter of colonial history that remains untouched by filmmakers in India. It also depicts how the precious Kohinoor diamond was deceptively taken away from the young king by the British.

The Black Prince has been written and directed by Punjabi-origin filmmaker Kavi Raz, of KR Films. “Our producer Jasjeet Singh wanted to make a Punjabi film, but I saw the potential of the subject that needed a larger canvas and got Hollywood production companies on board to take the film to another level,” says Raz. Duleep Singh’s journey from a boy king of a mighty kingdom to his death as a pauper is a compelling drama and an epic tragedy, and Raz says it needed to be subtly handled so that it didn’t come across as melodramatic. Read more