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‘Bad man’ in the making

It’s a long way before Ashish Duggal can be called the ‘bad man’ of Punjabi cinema. Just two negative performances — in Haani and Nabar, scheduled for release this month — are not enough to stake claim to the revered title, and he knows that. “The path to success is a long one and full of challenges, and I am up for it,” says Mumbai-based Duggal.

brunch Updated: Sep 03, 2013 09:37 IST
Sanjam Preet Singh

It’s a long way before Ashish Duggal can be called the ‘bad man’ of Punjabi cinema. Just two negative performances — in Haani and Nabar, scheduled for release this month — are not enough to stake claim to the revered title, and he knows that. “The path to success is a long one and full of challenges, and I am up for it,” says Mumbai-based Duggal.


His is an attempt to fill the slot of a villain in Punjabi cinema, though he insists to essay other characters as well. “My friends introduce me as a villain in Punjabi movies,” the 50-year-old actor says. And why not? After playing what his friends say ‘power-packed roles of a stubborn brother’ in Amitoj-Mann directed Haani and a ‘clever MLA’ in Rajeev-Sharma directed Nabar, it is hard not to associate the tag of a villain (not that of ‘bad man’) with him. After all, the appreciation he received on playing the chance role of a dacoit in a youth festival during his college days was a pointer to the things to come.

Soon after that performance, Duggal changed track from a would-be police officer, as his father who was in the police force had wished, to embark on an acting career. He joined a theatre group in his hometown of Ludhiana in 1981, graduated from the department of Indian theatre, Panjab University, Chandigarh, in 1986, and subsequently, went to Mumbai to try his luck. There, he acted in a few plays in Nadira Zaheer Babbar’s troupe and went on to act in nearly 50 TV serials and 15 Hindi films, the notable ones being Mann-directed Hawayein and Kaafila.

Back to his roots in Punjab, Duggal wants to do “meaningful roles”. Ask him to elaborate and he turns to the state of affairs in the much-hyped-but-low-on-content Punjabi cinema. “The Punjabi cinema’s revival is not on the back of good content, but on money power. Only a handful of directors are making films that relate to our lives, the rest are taking audience for a ride,” says he.

Duggal is certain that his next five to six films will present good cinema to the audience and help him stamp an identity of the ‘bad man’ in Punjabi movies.