another afternoon of the launch of an upcoming movie — Bha Ji in Problem (Akshay Kumar presentation). This time though, the conversation with veteran actor Om Puri, director Smeep Kang and comedian-actor Gurpreet Ghuggi steered towards a new direction. HT City brings to you excerpts from the afternoon.
(L-R) Director Smeep Kang with actors Om Puri, Khushboo Kochhar, Gippy Grewal and Gurpreet Ghuggi
Veteran actor Om Puri, who has been a part of Hollywood, Bollywood and Pollywood, seems a little concerned about cinema—be it Pollywood or Bollywood. “Directors such as Bimal Roy and Guru Dutt were successful, because their genre of cinema was substantial. Now, all we watch are songs with lurid lyrics, weird dance moves and ‘exposed’ actresses. It certainly leaves the wrong impression on young minds.”
But, don’t directors always get away by saying that the content depends on the audience’s demand? “It is a filmmaker’s responsibility to make good cinema, no matter what. It’s only art that can bring about a change in the society.”
So, why are serious films unable to pull the audience? “That depends on the quality of the film. It can be a good film without being a successful one. You have to grip the audience with emotions.”
His journey began with Chak De Fatte (2008), went on to Carry on Jatta becoming the hit of 2012 and is being followed up by Lucky Di Unluky Story, besides Bha Ji in Trouble, of course. The striking similarity — all are out and out comedies. “Since comedy is my strong point, I try to explore different genres within it. Carry On Jatta was about mistaken identities, Lucky Di Unlucky is a comic thriller and Bha Ji in Trouble is somewhat different,” justifies Kang.
With a hit film already in his kitty last year, isn’t it his duty to provide the audiences with something different? “It will be foolish on my part to make a serious film when I know it will not do well. Punjabi films get an approval by the rural youth on Friday itself. If they like them, only then do the families watch them over the weekend. The urban youth that appreciated films such as 3 Idiots and Rang De Basanti is different from rural youth. Various Punjabi films couldn’t do well because they were not able to figure out the difference between rural and urban audiences.”
“It’s too early for me to experiment. I do have a Delhi-based story that raises questions about what happened to the widows of 1984 riots in store,” adds he.
Ghuggi is one comedian who doesn’t pick up work just for the heck of it. “Had I not been choosy, I would have changed my look and moved to Mumbai. I chose to stay in Punjab as a turbaned actor. Post Carry on Jatta, I could have done 15 films and earned so much more money, but I ended up doing only two films. Lucky Di Unlucky Story happened because of the cast [the same as Carry on Jatta], Jatts in Golmaal was for a close friend, Ajj De Ranjhe was only for Manmohan ji, and Yamley Jatt Yamley was purely because of the script [and of course to earn my bread and butter].”
The honest answer from the man who turns producer with Bha Ji in Trouble is followed by a concern about cinema: “We’ve had our share of ‘invaders’ who insisted on duping their producers. But the Punjabi film industry will not grow till the time producers regain their faith in directors. Now, thankfully, we have at least three to four good Pollywood directors who are concerned about bringing good cinema to the table,” he concludes.