Singer and musician Khatija Rahman is set to make her international debut as a composer with the UK-India co-production film Lioness, the makers announced last week. The film is backed and supported by India’s National Film. ‘Lioness’, which is an India-UK co-production is directed by filmmaker Kajri Babbar.
Starring Paige Sandhu and Aditi Rao Hydari, the film narrates the story of two women who lived a century apart. The first story in Lioness will revolve around Sophia Duleep Singh, the daughter of Maharaja Duleep Singh — the last ruler of the Sikh empire — and the goddaughter of Queen Victoria. Sophia was among the leading suffragettes who fought for women’s right to vote in 1900s Britain.
Making her debut as a film composer in the upcoming Tamil film ‘Minmini’ which is currently in-the-works, Music maestro A.R Rahman’s daughter has released her first single ‘Farishton’ in 2020, which was composed and produced by her Oscar-winning father.
She later featured on Grammy Award-winning composer and environmentalist Ricky Kej’s song ‘Iltaja’ and collaborated with Tamil rapper-playback singer Arivu on his track ‘Sagavaasi’.
‘Lioness’ is a drama film centered around the lives of two completely different women who lived a 100 years away from each other, according to Variety.
The first story revolves around the suffragette (women’s protest for the right to vote) by Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, the granddaughter of the legendary king Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the god-daughter of Queen Victoria, which will be played by Paige Sandhu.
The second story introduces a fictional character, Simranjeet Kaur, living in London’s Southall Asian suburb in the early 1990s, to be played by Aditi Rao Hydari.
Speaking to the outlet, Khatija said: “Thrilled and honored to be a part of ‘Lioness.’ I connected deeply with the film’s values from the moment I heard its compelling story and the reason behind bringing her story to life. Our aspiration is to ensure that Princess Sophia’s struggle receives the long-overdue recognition it truly deserves.”
A.R Rahman told Variety: “I’m always proud of her. She is herself. She’s not under the shadow of me or anything. She never played any song to me. And I didn’t even ask her. So she released it (‘Sagavaasi’) and then people sent me the song. And it’s doing well now, it’s number six on the charts. I think we’re in for surprises, what she’s gonna do”.
The upcoming singer-composer was noted for opting to wear the niqab on her own. Talking about this, A.R Rahman said: “She has a very strong mind. And she’s a rebel. What she has done by wearing the niqab, standing for it and standing for all the people who wear the niqab as a statement – she got more attention than not wearing it.”
The film is written and directed by Kajri Babbar, who unveiled the first poster of the movie, at the ongoing International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Film Bazaar, in Panaji. The event was attended by Prithul Kumar, Joint Secretary Films and NFDC; Agnieszka Moody, head of International Relations at BFI; and Hydari during the ‘Knowledge Series’ panel discussion on the co-production journey of both countries. ‘Lioness’ will commence production in the first quarter of 2024, with a global release planned for early 2025.