celebrated in his lifetime.
Jasraj Bhatti with his mother Savita. Keshav Singh/HT
Bhatti was posthumously honoured with a Padma Bhushan on the eve of Republic Day this year, announced his family at Chandigarh Golf Club, Sector 6, on Wednesday, at the announcement of their upcoming film, Paaji in Trouble.
Savita Bhatti, the satirist’s wife, says in a choked voice, “He was nominated when he was alive, but wasn’t honoured then. Jaspal ji was disappointed for not receiving recognition for his honest work. But, perhaps he was to receive it now.” Saying he was a ‘superstar of the common man’, Savita adds that the family isn’t able to cope with Bhatti’s death after he met with an accident in October last year, which left the country in shock. “In a million years, I can’t think like he did and nor can I give my children the confidence that he gave.”
A man who seems suddenly grown up, Jasraj intervenes to lend his mother emotional support.
“Jaspal sir has already cemented my backbone. In all these years of assisting him, he prepared me completely. So, it would be a shame now if I couldn’t prove myself,” he says.
About their new venture, Punjabi film Paaji in Trouble, Jasraj adds, “It is my birthday today and I consider it to be the start of the year for me. It would have been Jaspal sir’s next ‘mis-direction’, but now, I would be directing it. The film has a social backdrop.”
We mention a Punjabi film with a similar name, Bha Ji in Problem, the making of which was announced recently by actors Gurpreet Ghuggi and Akshay Kumar, with the latter presenting it.
Savita says sadly, “Even we were surprised to hear that. Five years ago, Jaspal ji got the title Paaji in Trouble registered. He even told Gurpreet about it. I’ve heard they have changed the name of their film to Bha Ji in Problem. But, I still made a personal request to Akshay and Smeep Kang (the film’s director), to change the title of their film if possible.”
Savita and Jasraj say the issue regarding the film’s title ‘is about the stature and respect of Jaspal Bhatti’, so the name will stay. Jasraj takes the controversy in good spirit, adding, “We’ll perhaps add the word ‘Asli’ (real) to our title.”
On poignant note, he shares, “Jaspal sir always asked me to keep working hard. He never showered praises on me, and I realise now that was to help me become strong and carry on his legacy. He would be in our film, though I can’t reveal how.”