Aditi Rao Hydari and Indian origin British actress Paige Sandhu will soon be seen sharing the screen in the upcoming film 'Lioness'. The film, an official Indo-UK co-production being made under the bilateral treaty signed by both countries in 2008, was announced on Tuesday at the India Pavilion (managed by FICCI under the aegis of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival.
Written and directed by Kajri Babbar, the film will tell the story of princess Sophia Duleep Singh, the granddaughter of the great Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and the Goddaughter of Queen Victoria. She was one of the key leaders of the suffragette movement in the UK and also advocated for the rights of women and children.
Sophia's character will be essayed by Paige Sandhu. The actress said in a statement, "It's an honour and a dream come true to be playing Princess Sophia Duleep Singh. I am very humbled to be portraying someone with a legacy such as hers, the work that she did, the lives she helped and the family she came from. I truly hope to do justice to her incredible story."
While Sophia's story is rooted in history, the second story is a fictional tale of Mehak Kaur an educated, married immigrant woman living in 1990's Southall. Mehak uncovers a fascinating story of women's emancipation and empathy in contemporary times. The two stories play out in different eras, highlighting grit, determination and compassion.
Aditi Rao Hydari will portray the character of Mehak Kaur in the film. She said, "I was instantly drawn to the story that brings to the screen, the life and legacy of an extraordinary woman; a story lost in history. While Princess Sophia is a heroine in the true sense of the word, Mehak is an equally strong character whose journey parallels the Lioness's in the present."
The film, inspired by the research of Peter Bance, the historian who discovered the story of Princess Sophia Duleep, will be produced by Vivek Rangachari, Vaishalli Paatil, Faraz Ahsan, Clare Cahill and Ajit Pal Singh (Executive Producer), and has been certified by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) and the British Film Institute (BFI). Peter is also one of the executive producers on the film.
In addition, English Heritage will be unveiling a plaque at Hampton Court, UK, in memory of the Punjabi Suffragette Princess on May 26. The London Blue Plaque scheme celebrates notable figures and the places they lived and worked in. The unveiling will be followed by a celebratory reception in the Palace hosted by Babbar Movies and the Anglo Punjab Heritage Foundation.
Prithul Kumar, Joint Secretary, Films, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Govt of India and MD, NFDC, said, "heartiest congratulations to the co-production under India-UK treaty. The films being made under co-productions have been doing exceedingly well! All the best to this film!"
The event will be graced by members of the English Heritage, the British Parliament, representatives of the Indian and UK film industries, historians and authors with OBE Gurinder Chaddha as the keynote speaker.