The Black Prince
Starring : Satinder Sartaaj & others
Director : Kavi Raaz
Story : Jasjeet Singh
Screenplay : Kavi Raaz
Banner : Firdaus Prodution & Brillstein Entertainment Partners of Hollywood
Based on the real life story of the last King of Punjab, the project will be directed by Kavi Raz Debut of Singer Poet Satinder Sartaaj
Maharaja Duleep Singh, GCSI (6 September 1838, Lahore, Sikh Empire – 22 October 1893, Paris, France), real name Dalip Singh and later in life nicknamed the “Black Prince of Perthshire” was the last Maharaja of the Sikh Kingdom , Khalsa Raj. He was MaharajaRanjit Singh’s youngest son, the only child of Maharani Jind Kaur.
After the assassinations of four of his predecessors, he was installed as KING in September 1843, at the age of five. For a while his mother ruled, as Regent, but in December 1846, after the First Anglo-Sikh War, she was replaced by a British Resident and imprisoned. Mother and son were not allowed to meet again for thirteen and a half years. In April 1849 ten year old Duleep was put in the care of Dr John Login as his Guardian. He was taken away from his land and people to Fatehpur.
This is the story of a man who was born to lead, but was diverted into a life of indulgence and excess, until his rebel spirit was finally released by Guru Granth Sahib. As a young boy, Maharaja Duleep was ripped from his preordained royal future and displaced to the strange and alien culture of Victorian England. There, he was an object of fascination and he was indulged, enjoying the life of a rich boy, rejecting his traditional Sikh culture for an adopted, but ill-fitting, Christian spirituality. Embraced by Queen Victoria, the “Black Prince” lived a life full of contradictions, veiled behind wealthy excess. But those contradictions finally led him to reject his Victorian lifestyle and reconnect with his past. On the death of his mother he starts to seriously explore his true heritage and he writes to the Queen;
“As your Majesty is the only true and disinterested friend I possess in the world I did not like that you my Sovereign should hear from any other source in the first instance but myself of the possibility of my re-embracing the faith on my ancestors.”
As a child I prized beyond all the contents of my Treasury, for I was to leave my residence suddenly and however strange it may appear, I left my Place on less than a week’s notice.
Under all these rather curious circumstances I hope your Majesty will pardon me, if I have begun to believe in the force of destiny. I do not believe and indeed my Sovereign I do not now particularly care that justice will ever be done to me, but I do believe that my destiny whatever that may be will be fulfilled.
My Sovereign in my humble opinion only that religion is to God which influences the actions of its professors. I embraced Christianity because those by whom I was surrounded at the time happened to be so consistent in their conduct.
We Sikhs though savages by nature implicitly act up to the (such as it is) morality of our faith. We do not profess one thing and do the other.
Your Majesty is now fully acquainted with the treatment I have received from the Christians who spend vast sums of money annually to teach the heathen to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God as well defraud no man and to do to others as you would wish them to do to you.
I know two members of the India Council to be eminently pious yet they persist in doing me injustice although they fully hope to sit among the God’s elect hereafter. Also, Lord Dalhousie wrote in a Bible he present[ed]me with the following inscription ‘… This Holy Book in which he has been led by God’s grace to find an inheritance richer by far than all earthly kingdoms is presented with sincere respect and regard by his faithful friend’ … or in other words having deprived me of my inheritance which was in his power to let alone, he hoped as my friend (!!!) that I may acquire another which was not in his power to bestow.
My Sovereign, such vile hypocrisy of the Christians as the above bas made me with to revert to the faith of my forefathers which is simple trust and belief in the great architect of the of the Universe whom to praise and glorify should be the all-absorbing duty of his worshippers. Thus believing and worshipping God, like my ancestors, I now desire to pass the rest of my life and die.
Believe in my turning a Sikh again – but she will be undeceived should I be compelled to go to India.
I have the honour to remain My Sovereign’s humble and most loyal Subject…”
Queen replies – My dear Maharajah,…In the first place you know that I cannot interfere in your claims; they must be decided by my responsible advisers. But secondly as your friend, and perhaps the truest you have, I would most strongly warn you against those who would lead you to do what would inevitably bring you into trouble without doing you any good. Do not use threats or abusive language, fir it will not be the means of obtaining that impartial hearing of your claims which you desire. Above all I most earnestly warn you against going to India where you will find yourself far less independent and far less at your ease than here.
Ever your affectionate friend, V.R.I.
He replies, “With reference to my going out to India to reside I humbly beg to inform Your Majesty that I had determined on, should it ever be my destiny to do so, seeking this property and settling the proceeds (which I have the power to do) on my wife and children and after resigning the stipend paid to me by the Indian Government and thus terminating the treaty of 1849 to proceed to my native land as a Sikh Fakeer leaving my family in England”.
In the eyes of the British establishment, he then changed from a harmless party guest to a threat to the stability of British colonial interests. As Maharajah Duleep Singh started to connect with revolutionaries around the world, the Government surrounded him with spies and double agents. With his innate political acumen, he glanced over the international horizon, established secret contacts with the Punjab, Irish revolutionaries, and the Russian government. Before his intended march from Russia to India, Duleep Singh had been re-initiated as a Sikh by taking amrit pahul. In the proclamations issued by him, he asserted himself to be “the lawful sovereign of the Sikh nation”. But the destiny willed it otherwise. His health broke down and he suffered an epileptic fit in a lonely room of the Hotel de la Tremouille in Paris.His flame needed to be expired. And it finally was, on a cheap bed in Paris but with free soul. Though politically he fails his re-conversion to Sikhism gives him spiritual peace.
The one bright and qualifying feature in the character of Maharajah Dalip (Duleep) Singh – his devoted personal attachment to the Queen and the Prince of Wales. The sentiment never wavered in the midst of all his fancied or real grievances against the British Government. Only those who have been brought into personal contact with the Sikh character can have any idea as to what heights of nobility it can soar, or to what depths of degradation it can sink.
All along he was very, very brave. He had an intense Sikh quality that is bravery. He believed that a great injustice had been done to him and his people; and he fought to the very end to redress that injustice
It’s a tragic and moving story with many themes to explore – east v west, Sikhism v Christianity, manipulation and oppression v free will.
Maharajah Duleep Singh, his character as it evolves, torn between two cultures and facing constant dilemmas as a result. His relationship with Queen Victoria will be the most impactful relationship in the film, the Queen representing the English culture he was drawn into.