OPENING NIGHT: The Black Prince
Director: Kavi Raz Starring: Satinder Sartaaj, Jason Flemyng, Shabana Azmi, Aanda Root, Ameet Chana, David Essex Run time: 118 mins | Recommended Certificate: 15 Language: English, Punjabi & Hindi with English Subtitles | Year: 2017 | Country: UK, India
Punjabi music superstar Satinder Sartaaj shines in his film debut as Maharaja Duleep Singh alongside powerful Indian actor Shabana Azmi and Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels). The Black Prince is an exquisitely photographed and sumptuously designed period drama with a tiger’s bit as it offers an insight into a controversial chapter of shared British Indian colonial history. After the death of Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh, ruler of the Punjab, there is a violent war of succession until his youngest son, the five-year-old Duleep Singh is installed as king. The British, however, have other plans and bundle the boy off to England where he is brought up as a Christian in the lap of luxury under the personal care of Queen Victoria (Amanda Root). In early adulthood Duleep (Satinder Sartaaj) is torn between two cultures and secures begrudging permission from Queen Victoria to meet his real mother (Shabana Azmi). She soon awakens him to his original Sikh faith and culture, which sets him on a dangerous quest to challenge the British Raj and free his people.
Kavi Raz is an Indian-born British actor, writer, director and producer. Born in the Punjab Raz left India at a young age for the United Kingdom, where he grew up. He attended university in the San Fransisco Bay area. Raz was a founder and artistic director of the Wandering Players' Theatre Company. The company staged several World and US premieres of plays from India. In the mid-1970s, Raz arrived in Los Angeles and developed a career as a film and television actor. He became the first ever South Asian actor to be signed on as a regular in a major TV series, St Elsewhere. Raz TV shows and films, included guest appearances on M*A*S*H and Star Trek The Next Generation.
In 1978, Raz founded the production company, K. R. Films Hollywood. Its debut, Lehren - a television weekly variety series for the Asian audience - was shown throughout the United States and Canada. He later co-starred in Atushi Fanahashi’s Big River in 2005. Raz’s debut directorial feature was The Gold Bracelet, a movie about Sikh Man faced with the realities of post 9/11.