CAST: Satinder Sartaaj, Shabana Azmi, Amanda Root, Jason Flemyng, Rup Magon
DIRECTION: Kavi Raz
DURATION:1 hour 58 minutes
THE BLACK PRINCE STORY : Set in the 19th century (India’s pre-independence years), The Black Prince is the agonising true tale of Duleep Singh, the last Sikh king of Punjab, who was robbed off his mother, Kingdom, faith and lineage by the British. Raised as a Christian 'prince' in England by Queen Victoria (Amanda Root), Duleep's yearning to embrace his faith, reclaim his identity and trace his roots, forms the story. The fearless woman who fans and reignites the fire within him to discover who he really is and regain his lost kingdom, freedom and glory, happens to be his mother Rani Jindan (Shabana Azmi). But his struggle to be reunited to his motherland was endless.
THE BLACK PRINCE REVIEW : It must not be easy to live with the constant anxiety of not knowing your past too well. One takes great pride in stating the language they speak; the country they belong to or the faith they follow. Take that away and you have nothing that truly belongs to you. The protagonist (Satinder Sartaaj as Duleep Singh) battles a similar situation here. He was stolen from his mother when he was barely five and exiled from his own country. Raised as British, he soon realises that he is actually a prisoner, trapped by the lies and deceit of his enemy.
Kavi Raz’s film solely rests on Duleep’s longing and liberation. It’s his tragic story that’s heart-breaking more than the snail-paced execution, stoic portrayal by Sartaaj and ineffective writing. The film needed a competent actor in the lead role as the moment you take Shabana Azmi away, it ceases to hold your interest. As a feisty queen, who is appalled by her son’s indifference to his country, she proves for the umpteenth time, why she is one of our finest actors, ever. Amanda Root and Jason Flemyng do a fine job as well.
Given the period drama’s slow moving pace and melancholic nature, it could have perhaps worked better as a tele-series. An episodic retelling could have been more impactful.
Despite the story’s massive potential, Raz’s sincere but dimly-lit drama, monotonously shot within the four walls of a church or a heritage room, ends up being a tedious watch. Just like its protagonist, it lacks drive and a sense of purpose.
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