The filming of Kajri Babbar’s upcoming film ‘Lioness’ is scheduled to begin in London, England, in December 2023. The historical drama film is set in two different timelines a century apart and focuses on the lives of two British Punjabi women. One story follows Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, a historical figure and the daughter of the former King of the Sikh Empire, who plays an important role in the suffragette movement in the United Kingdom. The other story revolves around a fictional woman named Mehak, who is an immigrant living in Southall in the 1990s.
The film marks the feature directorial debut of Babbar, who previously helmed two short films: the 2017 thriller drama ‘Pardaa’ and the 2019 mystery drama ‘Khoj.’ The filmmaker has also penned the screenplay of the film and co-wrote the story with Fiona Bavinton, who earlier worked on the short films ‘The Ladies’ Room’ and ‘The Pit and the Pendulum: A Study in Torture.’
Paige Sandhu will essay the role of Princess Sophia Duleep Singh in the film. The actress is recognized for her performance as Meena Jutla in the British soap opera ‘Emmerdale’ AKA ‘Emmerdale Farm.’ In a statement, Sandhu revealed that it was a dream come true for her to step into the shoes of Princess Sophia. “It’s an honor 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,” said the actress.
Aditi Rao Hydari, an Indian actress known for her work in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu language films, will play Mehak. The actress’ famous credits include the films ‘Rockstar,’ ‘Padmaavat,’ ‘Kaatru Veliyidai,’ and ‘Sammohanam.’ She was recently seen in the Prime Video series ‘Jubilee.’ Speaking about her character in the film, Hydari said, “I was instantly drawn to the story that brings to 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 cast of the film also includes Leon Ockenden as Viscount Davenport. The English actor is known for his roles in ITV’s ‘Coronation Street’ and BBC One’s ‘Waterloo Road.’ Prateik Babbar will feature in the film in an undisclosed role. The Indian actor is recognized for his work in the Hindi films ‘Ekk Deewana Tha,’ ‘Chhichhore,’ and ‘Dum Maaro Dum.’
‘Lioness’ is the first official India-UK co-production certified by India’s National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) and the UK’s British Film Institute (BFI). The film is inspired by the research of historian Peter Bance, who serves as an executive producer of the project. London, where the shoot is going to take place, has hosted the filming of several other historical projects as well, including the Netflix series ‘The Crown’ and the 2023 biographical film ‘Golda.’