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Posted at: Jul 17, 2017, 12:31 AM; last updated: Jul 17, 2017, 12:31 AM (IST)

The Untold story of The Black Prince

Sufi singer Satinder Sartaaj believes that he was destined to play the role of Maharaja Duleep Singh
The Untold story of The Black Prince
Satinder Sartaaj
Nonika Singh from New York

He has been creating waves on the international circuit ever since his much- acclaimed film The Black Prince hit the international festival circuit. At IIFA New York he might be an unlikely presence what with Bollywood bigwigs around. But Satinder Sartaaj whose portrayal of Maharaja Duleep Singh has been fetching him plaudits remains a star attraction. Not only he walks the green carpet for IIFA that has changed the ramp colour to mark its solidarity with environment, but he is also busy posing for photographs with admirers.

The singer-actor, who has not slept for more than three hours for 12 days at a stretch, is in fact trying hard to shed the persona of the much misunderstood Prince whose nuances and attitude has all but seeped into him. Come to think of it not too long ago, he had to struggle to eclipse the real Sartaaj who the world knew as a singer poet. He says. “The biggest challenge for me was to ensure that when audience watches the film they don’t see Sartaaj.”

Today as the film is all set to hit theatres world-wide including India, and more importantly Punjab he so hopes and wishes it gets thumbs up from his Punjabi brethren. He quips. “I told my Hollywood producers please dub it in Punjabi for there is a huge Punjabi community wanting to know about its history and culture. So, he beseeches his fellow Punjabis to watch the film, for not only is it a proud moment for Punjabis that Hollywood has decided to focus on our history, but also for the film puts things in proper perspective.”

Maharaja Duleep Singh is a widely misunderstood person and an unsung hero whose sacrifices and patriotism has gone unnoticed. While the film based on authentic historic facts shall set the record right the making of it has enlightened Sartaaj in many ways too. Interestingly he landed the role, “for it was predestined; his resemblance with the prince similar height and all were clinching factors. But it was also about being in the right place at the right time and the recommendation of Diplomat author Navtej Sarna who has written a book on Maharaja Duleep Singh did work in his favour too. Indeed it has been a gratifying journey.

But Sartaaj the singer poet might see acting as part of performing art but has no intention of turning a full time actor. On the anvil is a singing tour across America, and for now its album launch by Sarna. Friends are forever and same is the case with him and Shabana Azmi, his co-star in The Black Prince. Before the shoot he was suitably awed and a wee bit frightened too of her acting skills. Now as he complains of the hectic schedule that film promotions ensue, she goes around saying, mere bacche ko itna tang mat karo. Reel mother with real maternal concerns... that’s the stuff celluloid is made of. Royalty beckons in an all-new avatar, with untold story of the Prince whom Queen Victoria lovingly called ‘my Black Prince’.

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