By Kay Whatley, Editor
A historical film based on a Franklin County, North Carolina woman’s royal family in India, is set for release in New York City and Los Angeles, California cinemas this year.
Yadvi – A Journey Of A Dignified Princess is an independent film directed by Jyoti Singh and written by her sister, Gauri Singh — locally known for starting two NC film festivals:
- Franklin Flicks (originally called the Franklin County International Film Festival) in 2015.
- NCISAFF (North Carolina Indian and South Asian Film Festival) in 2012.
Yadvi – A Journey Of A Dignified Princess was screened at Duke University in 2017 under NCISAFF and Duke AMI banner, and has not yet screened in Franklin County.
Gauri Singh is an independent filmmaker and screenplay writer who produced Welcome to North Carolina! before collaborating with Jyoti on Yadvi – A Journey Of A Dignified Princess, a historical film based on the real-life story of Jyoti, Gauri, and their sister Ketki’s grandmother, Maharani Yadhuvansh Kumari. (As Maharajah refers to a Prince in India, a Maharani is a Princess in India.)
Family photographs that appear in several of the film’s scenes were provided by Ketki, who also lives in Franklin County NC.
The film is set in the early- to mid-1900s when India was under British rule, and covers Maharani Kumari’s life, from her birth into a royal family, to hard times later in life caused by nonexistent women’s rights. From the film website:
How does a real life princess raised in one of the wealthiest families of the world end up losing all such privileges in her middle age? How does she become forced to pick her own food and collect her own wood for the winters? In 1940’s India, before even a hint of feministic equality, how does a woman not only uphold her own dignity but also raise three refined daughters in the face of unexpected adversity? The pure personification of integrity, [this] movie will take you on her journey through the India of Kings and Queens, of Princes and polygyny. Her deep internal strength bolstering her family honor will inspire you.
Directed by Jyoti and written by Gauri, the film is based on family stories, many told to Gauri directly by her grandmother. The story shows oppression of women during the 20th century in India, including a princess forced into poverty by a society that favored men. Despite hardship, the strength of Yadvi shines through as she survives her struggles. Though not shown in the film, later in life she passed on her strength to her children and grandchildren, teaching them how to survive and retain one’s dignity.
The film has won awards from film festivals across the world, including Best Cinematographer at The People’s Film Festival in New York, and Best Director at the 4th Indian Cine Film Festival. Filmed mostly on location in India, several scenes were shot in the United States, and the screenplay was written by Gauri from her NC home.
After watching this film, I felt a sense of sadness for Yadvi. Her happy, royal childhood gave her the opportunity to play and learn, but as a teen she was wed to a stranger through an arranged marriage. She persevered through life circumstances not of her choosing — pushed upon her by the patriarchal society of that time — which I found, at times, gut-wrenching. The film conveys how important family was to Yadvi, the joy and pain she endured, and the positive outlook she passed on.
This story of surviving painful life events is punctuated by haunting music, and offers not only visually beautiful scenes, but also a window into the traditions, discrimination, and royalty of British India and its legacy.
The film will be released in Los Angeles on May 25, 2018 at the Music Hall Theater, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, California.
The Premiere will be at Cinema Village, 22 E 12th street, in New York City on June 1, 2018, where the Honorable Counsel General, Sri Sandeep Chakravorty, is to grace the event and will be the guest of honor.
A North Carolina screening is planned, with the date yet to be determined.
To view the film trailer, audience video reviews, and more, visit the A Journey Of A Dignified Princess film website at www.yadvithedignifiedprincess.com. Check out cast and other details on IMDB, or follow the Yadvi Facebook page for updates/events.