“This was a dream role”

Singer Satin­der Sar­taaj talks about play­ing the lead char­ac­ter in the in­ter­na­tional pro­duc­tion The Dark Prince based on Ma­haraja Duleep Singh’s life

India Today - - FILM - _ By Sukant Deepak

The Black Prince was more than a film for me. It was a five-year jour­ney that ex­posed me not just to a dif­fer­ent art form but also helped me evolve on many lev­els. I dis­cov­ered many facets of my­self. The en­tire jour­ney of es­say­ing a his­tor­i­cal char­ac­ter was an in­ter­nal voy­age,” says singer Satin­der Sar­taaj, 37, who makes his de­but as the lead char­ac­ter in the Hollywood pro­duc­tion The

Black Prince di­rected by US-based In­dian film­maker Kavi Raz, that re­leased in July this year. The movie brings to the fore­front the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Ma­haraja Duleep Singh, the last king of the Sikh empire and Queen Vic­to­ria. Made with a bud­get of five mil­lion dol­lars, the movie charts the story of Duleep Singh, who was put on the throne at the age of five and re­moved af­ter the Bri­tish an­nexed In­dia. Force­fully sent to Eng­land, all his at­tempts to re­turn to his coun­try were thwarted by the Bri­tish. The Ma­haraja died alone and pen­ni­less in a Paris ho­tel in 1893. For Sar­taaj, trans­for­ma­tion into the char­ac­ter was both emo­tional and ex­haus­tive. “It in­volved a lot of re­search, act­ing classes, long ses­sions with the di­rec­tor and trans­port­ing my­self into an era long gone past.” And the

big­gest stum­bling block for him was to master the English lan­guage con­sid­er­ing it is his third lan­guage. “I put in a lot of hard work to master the Victorian ac­cent. I can never for­get the day when I had to de­liver a full-page mono­logue in a single take,” he says. The first movie to be screened at the Lon­don In­dian Film Fes­ti­val held in June this year, the trailer of which was un­veiled at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val, the film also stars Sha­bana Azmi, who plays the pow­er­ful char­ac­ter of Ma­ha­rani Jin­dan Kaur, Duleep Singh’s mother. “Work­ing with her was such a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. De­spite her se­nior­ity and act­ing prow­ess, she al­ways makes ev­ery­one around her feel com­fort­able. Her at­ten­tion to de­tail and what she brings to char­ac­ters is mind-blow­ing,” says the ac­tor who hails from Hoshiarpur in Pun­jab. Op­ti­mistic that the film would not just be re­stricted to ‘se­ri­ous view­ers’ but ac­cepted by masses, the ac­tor-singer says, “It's an in­ter­est­ingly told his­tory of Pun­jab’s last kingdom, some­thing not many peo­ple know about. I am sure the au­di­ences will be im­pressed by the ef­forts put in by the en­tire pro­duc­tion team. More­over, I strongly be­lieve that peo­ple are al­ways look­ing for in­ter­est­ing and fresh sub­jects.”

De­spite the fact that sev­eral film of­fers have come to him, he is in no hurry. “This was a dream role, and I have de­voted sev­eral years to the movie. Frankly, I can’t wait to get back to mu­sic again. Very soon, I’ll an­nounce a new al­bum. Of course, I am open to films, but only those that move me at all lev­els,” says Sar­taaj who has writ­ten and com­posed all the five songs in the film.

The Black Prince " is a very in­ter­est­ingly told his­tory of Pun­jab’s last kingdom, some­thing not many peo­ple know about SATIN­DER SARTAJ, AC­TOR-SINGER.

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