Aditi Rao Hydari and Paige Sandhu to Star in ‘Lioness’: First Official UK-India Collaboration

Aditi Rao Hydari

“Lioness,” a historical feature film, is set to become the first official co-production between India and the UK under a treaty signed in 2008. Directed by Kajri Babbar, the film tells the stories of two British Punjabi women living in the UK but in different time periods.

The first storyline revolves around Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, a historical figure and Princess of Punjab who played a vital role in the suffragette movement in the UK. The second storyline follows Mehak, an educated married immigrant woman residing in Southall, a suburb of London, during the 1990s.

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To bring these characters to life, Paige Sandhu, a UK actress of Indian origin known for her role in Emmerdale, will portray Princess Sophia, while Aditi Rao Hydari, who has worked in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu films and stars in the Prime Video series Jubilee, will play the character of Mehak.

The film is produced by Vivek Rangachari, Vaishalli Paatil, Faraz Ahsan, and Clare Cahill, with Ajit Pal Singh serving as the executive producer. Kajri Babbar, known for her previous short films, makes her feature film debut as the director. Notably, historian Peter Bance, whose research inspired the film, also serves as an executive producer.

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The co-production status of “Lioness” has been officially certified by India’s National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) and the British Film Institute (BFI), solidifying its collaborative nature.

Aditi Rao Hydari expressed her immediate connection to the story, highlighting the importance of portraying the life and legacy of an extraordinary woman lost in history. Paige Sandhu conveyed her honor and excitement in playing Princess Sophia, recognizing the impact of her work and the rich family history she represents.

The film aims to delve into the unique cultural bridge that connects India and the UK, emphasizing the potential for collaboration and mutual growth within the creative industries of both countries.

In addition, English Heritage plans to unveil a Blue Plaque at Hampton Court in London on May 26 in memory of Princess Sophia. Esteemed filmmaker Gurinder Chadha is set to be one of the keynote speakers at the event, further underscoring the significance of the film’s subject matter.

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“Lioness” marks a milestone in the film industry, signifying the beginning of a fruitful partnership between India and the UK. Through this collaboration, the film showcases the talents of its cast and crew while weaving together stories that resonate across borders and cultures. It exemplifies the power of cinema to connect people and shed light on lesser-known historical figures, leaving a lasting impact on audiences around the world.