Diljit Dosanjh stormed into Bollywood with a stellar performance in Udta Punjab (2016). But the Punjabi star is clearly not like most Bollywood actors — he doesn’t have an army of assistants or managers, or the usual set-up that the typical B-Town celebrity is known for. Instead, the soft-spoken actor-singer refuses to call himself a “star” of any kind.
No starry airs
“For me, Michael Jackson was a star. Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan are stars. They are the ones who own and carry stardom. I have never looked at myself as a star. I still feel that I am a pind da munda (a boy from the village),” says Diljit.
Calling all his co-stars in Bollywood – Kareena Kapoor Khan, Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Anushka Sharma — “big stars” and “amazing”, Diljit says the actors have worked very hard to get to where they are. “They make it very easy for their co-stars to work with them. On the first day, when Anushka ma’am met me, she was like, ‘hey dude, what’s up?’ So, I was like, ‘chalo, things will be good here’ (laughs). But I was a little sad when she told me she isn’t Punjabi, but that she is a UP (Uttar Pradesh) girl,” he says.
But does he know that his humbleness makes him stand out from the rest in the glitzy world of Bollywood? “When you talk of being humble, Gurdas Maan is the most humble person. He has a very pure nature. Maybe the term humble is wrong, but I think people can connect with me much more because I am a pind da munda (a boy from the village),” says the ‘Proper patola’ singer.
Diljit reveals that his father’s salary was around Rs 5,000, which would not last them past the second day of every month. “I still am surprised at how my mother would run the house. Now, sometimes, I buy Tom Ford suits that cost Rs 3 to Rs 4 lakh, but I’ll never forget those days,” he says.
The actor is currently readying for the release of his second Hindi film, Phillauri, opposite Anushka, and is “listening to scripts” for his next Hindi film. As Diljit readies for his next, Phillauri, he admits that he might feel a “little scared” on Thursday night (March 23, the day before his release), but “he is okay right now.” People have loved the trailer. Also, I am happy that Udta Punjab (2016) was loved by everyone. People’s likes or dislikes depend on your product. If the product is good, they will like it and if they don’t, they will let us know. Then, we will work harder,” he says.
The Punjabi star adds that he was the last one to become a part of Phillauri. “Everything — the recce, script, other cast members, music, dialogues was already final when only my look test was done, which the team liked. They suggested, ‘Make his complexion a little dark.’ But I said, ‘My mother always wants me to look fairer on screen, but they are making me look darker (laughs).’ Then, I thought, ‘It’s Bollywood; they must be doing something right,’” he says.
What makes Diljit happy is the fact that this time, he has “done a proper romantic film.” “I have done Punjabi rom-coms but not a romantic film, and that too with a big artiste like Anushkaji, so I was a little scared at first. But when the camera was on, everything was fine. Off camera though, I was a bit scared (laughs),” he recalls.
Ask him if working in Bollywood is a different ball game, with new people around and he says, “That’s not an issue. I just have to do my work. I don’t have to make relationships here. I believe, ‘You give me certain work and I will do it to the best of my abilities,’” says Diljit, adding that he “never thought of it [entering Bollywood].”
Creating a niche
Diljit admits that he “never planned” his entry in Bollywood. “I would always think that Bollywood isn’t made for me. I don’t compose rap songs or party numbers. I only compose folk. But there’s no space for folk songs here. I personally get satisfaction from making such songs. I don’t even try to make folk or party songs,” he says.
Despite being a successful actor and singer in the Punjabi film industry, and with an impressive debut in Bollywood, Diljit doesn’t agree that he has already “made a niche” for himself. “We keep making our space with each and every product. I don’t consider myself a part of even Punjabi cinema. If I get a good Punjabi or a Hindi film, I’ll do it. So, thinking that I have made a space for myself in Punjabi films, and that I am trying to make space in Bollywood would be wrong. I haven’t even bought a house in Mumbai yet. As of now, I am just trying to get an apartment for myself in Mumbai (laughs),” says the actor, who will also be seen in “first-ever” Punjabi superhero film, Super Singh, for which “only the dubbing is left”.
Dream home in Mumbai
Diljit informs that he had “checked out some places” in Mumbai. “But then demonetisation happened, so it got stuck as builders stopped taking our calls. I am looking though. Not because I am working in Bollywood, but I anyway love the city. Moreover, I have lots of work too in Bollywood now,” he says.