Shabana Azmi is playing the role of Rani Jindan, Maharaja Duleep Singh’s mother, in the film The Black Prince. And decades after being in the business of acting, the actress still finds each role interesting and exciting. “When I was offered the film, I had no idea what the story was. So, I asked to read the script and when I did so then I felt that it was a lost chapter from history and felt that it needed to be told especially through the cinematic medium,” she states as a matter of fact. “When you see my character for the first time in the film, she has lost everything; She has lost her husband, her son, her kingdom. She is in a state of penury and you imagine that she is going to be a very helpless woman. But she is a very feisty woman. She is there with the sole mission of telling her son that you are a Sikh, you are not a prince, you are a Maharaja and you need to go back and reclaim the Sikh empire,” says the actress.
The Black Prince is the story of a unique relationship between Queen Victoria, Maharajah Duleep Singh and Rani Jindan. Talking about her role, she says, “It’s a strong and even a naughty character. There is a particular scene where she is sitting with Queen Victoria and she sees a teacup and asks her, ‘I have seen the teacup before. Isn’t that a teacup you have robbed from us?’ Queen Victoria feels that she is saying something awkward. That’s when Duleep Singh comes in and says, ‘She is asking you if the tea is good’. She then says, ‘No, I didn’t say that. I have said that you have robbed it,’” says Azmi.
For Shabana, the challenge was also to learn Punjabi and speak in the language. “I was very nervous about speaking in Punjabi. I have learnt it by heart. The Sikh community all over the world has been very kind about my Punjabi accent in the film,” she says.