The Black Prince movie star rating: 1
The Black Prince director: Kavi Raz
The Black Prince cast: Satinder Sartaaj, Amanda Root, Shabana Azmi
Once upon a time, there was a prince of the great Kingdom of Punjab, who was taken from his mother at the age of five by the British, transported by them to distant England and converted to Christianity, who grew up feeling something was amiss, but who was now so used to the life of comfort he led, he couldn’t or wouldn’t do much about it.
Couldn’t, or wouldn’t? That makes for a great dilemma. But not in The Black Prince, where the only thing that shows any existential confusion is the hairstyle on that boy who couldn’t be king, Duleep Singh. It’s longish, Sikhish, bald-ish, and then greyish, depending on the time of his life you meet Duleep. It’s never stray-ish, though, much in the nature of this still-born, moribund film with less life than the twirl of a Bhangra move.
In the embarrassingly inadequate form of Satinder Sartaaj, Duleep looks far from the Lion of Punjab and his mother, played by Shabana Azmi (trying to give the film a brave, Punjabi kick into action), touts him to be. Not to speak of the Casanova, who bids women forth with a look from his heavy-lidded eyes. Particularly as Duleep looks at everyone like that. Including his very interesting and loyal sidekick, Arur Singh (Rup Magon). Hmmm.
Meanwhile, the film chronologically goes through the motions against the backdrop of a series of imposing mansions, from Aden in Yemen to Nashik in India to Moscow in Russia. Queen Victoria (Root) pops up now and again in ill-fitting gowns and mousey hairdos. And everyone, before dying, unfailingly and aggressively coughs.
Shabana Azmi, incidentally, once fronted a delightful film called Loins of Punjab. A kingdom can do with some.