People and their work inspired him to such an extent that he left his job at 9X (TV channel) in 2010 to bring stories to the big screen. He is also one of the rare directors who believe that multiplexes are ‘one of the mediums’, and not the only medium, to showcase your movies.
In 2011, director Rajeev Sharma, 44, became one of the pioneers of short Punjabi films, with his film Aatu Khoji, which he showcased throughout Punjab via screenings in villages, colleges and film festivals.
When his first Punjabi feature film, Nabar, won a National Film Award (Best Punjabi Film), Rajeev’s reason to rejoice was, “Thanks to the award, my movie’s reach will increase considerably.”
Hailing from Mullanpur in Ludhiana district, Rajeev did his theatre from Department of Indian Theatre, Panjab University, in 1992, and commenced his journey with documentaries such as Apna Pash (on revolutionary poet, Pash) and Idu Sharif — Song of Five Rivers. In 1994, he moved to Mumbai and worked with Doordarshan, Sahara, Zee TV and Channel Punjab. “When mediums were limited, I made documentaries. Now, when there are enough mediums, I’m making films, since their reach is wider. My first short film, Aatu Khoji, made on a budget of R1 lakh, came at a time when the trend of short films had not hit Punjab,” says Rajeev.
National Award winning film, Nabar (rebel), which was made on a budget of around R50 lakh, throws light on illegal immigration, informs he, “A newspaper article lead to the inception of my movie; it’s about a boy from Hoshiarpur (played by singer Nishawn Bhullar) who was allegedly murdered in Mumbai by illegal agents who promised to send him abroad. The story then turns to his father (played by veteran theatre artist Hardip Gill), who, despite the bribes and threats, fights the case. The cast of the film includes Rana Ranbir, Harvinder Kaur Babli, Geetanjali Gill and Ashish Duggal.”
The movie, produced by Jasbir Derewal’s Hands On Productions and Channel Punjab, falls into a different genre of films altogether, says he. “It’s neither art nor commercial cinema. I prefer calling this genre ‘meaningful cinema’. The movie will hit the theatres by June and I will make sure that it reaches each part of Punjab.”
Another crucial part of the film that Rajeev doesn’t forget to mention is its music. “The father’s character draws inspiration from Gurbani, which is presented in various forms, in the film. Famous folk singer, Barkat Sidhu, has sung the song Yaar Hi Yaar (written by Munna Dhiman, music by Channi Singh), and the movie also features Bhangra, romantic and soulful music, besides some shabad from the Gurbani. Singer Ustaad Raza Ali (grandson of Bade Ghulam Ali), Malika-Jyoti, Nooran sisters, Rohit Sharma, Nishwan Bhullar, Tiger Style, VGrooves and Ravi Sheen are also a part of the film’s music,” he says.