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Shabana Azmi, our first truly international star who has worked with the likes of Shirley MacLaine in Madame Sousatzka and Patrick Swayze in The City Of Joy is now all set to star in the most controversial international project of her career.


Shabana stars in The Black Prince, the biopic on the life of Maharaja Duleep Singh who during the British Raj was wrenched away from his mother at age of 15 and forcibly brought to Britain where he was converted to Christianity and groomed like a Britisher.


For many decades now, Sikh historians have regarded Duleep Singh's story to be emblematic of Colonial arrogance and intolerance.


The film is now being directed by the US-based Indian actor-director Kavi Raz in Northamptonshire in England.


About her role Shabana says, "Maharani Jinda is the driving-force behind Duleep to return to Punjab and take back his land. He was taken away to England by Queen Victoria and turned into a Christian."


Speaking from the idyllic spot Shabana says, "There is no phone connectivity where we shoot. We have to travel 20 miles for network. I am thoroughly enjoying my time off. I am doing my own cooking and learning on the job, mixing and matching different dishes to suit my own palate. It's great fun. But I'm missing my mother."


Speaking on the project Shabana says, "Satinder Sartaj is a very famous punjabi Sufi singer and lyricist. He is playing Duleep Singh. I play his mother Maharani Jinda. David Essex, Jason Fleming, Amanda Peat all very well-known British actors are in the film too."


Shabana is all praise for the director. "Kavi Raz is an LA-based director. Aaron Smith is the cinematographer. He is very good; it's a truly international crew. There are American, French, Turkish, Indian, British and Polish crew members. This trend of a multi-cultural crew is gradually catching on. I love the feeling of being in the midst of such diverse talent. It's a very exciting place to be in for any actor."


Speaking of the panoramic location Shabana sighs, "We're shooting at Althorp Spencer Estate where Lady Diana grew up and is now buried. This place has to be seen to be believed. It is paradise."


She joins her husband Javed Akhtar in Paris next week where his poems are being translated into French.


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