It’s a comeback of sorts, to his roots. Actor Dharmendra, who made Punjab famous in Mumbai, as he reigned for almost four decades in Bollywood, is mouthing Punjabi dialogues for Double Di Trouble as he shoots in and around Chandigarh.
Directed by Smeep Kang and produced by Subhash Ghai’s brother Ashok Ghai and his production house Mukta Arts, the film will see Dharmendra in a double role, along with singer-actor Gippy Grewal, who plays his son.
Dressed suave in a suit, Dharmendra doesn’t look like a man in his late 70s.
“I would prefer calling the Punjabi film industry ‘Sahnewood’ because of the familiarity I feel with it,” laughs the actor, who was born in Sahnewal, Punjab. Dharmendra reminds us this isn’t technically his debut, since he had made a couple of guest appearances in non-descript Punjabi films such as Kanke de Olle. “All my Hindi home productions have had a Punjabi flavour. But, I’m glad to be finally acting in a Punjabi film. In Double Di Trouble, I play an advocate and Gippy plays my son. Poonam Dhillon will be seen playing my wife,” he tells us about his role in the film that releases next year and stars Minissha Lamba, Ragini Khanna, Gurpreet Ghuggi, BN Sharma and Karamjit Anmol, among others.
While Ragini plays a modern city girl, Minissha is the other female lead, playing a village belle. “Speaking in Punjabi was definitely a problem, but I’m not scared of hard work. In fact, when I was shooting for Teen Thay Bhai [Hindi film], I learnt some Punjabi that made working on my next Punjabi film, Bhaji in Problem, a cakewalk,” says Ragini.
Does Dharmendra believe there is a dearth of meaningful films in Punjabi cinema? “Soon, I will make a Punjabi film with a serious plot — something that has not been made so far,” the actor surprises us, followed by another revelation. “I’ve completed a script of a Hindi film which will make people both cry and laugh. But, my dream is to make a film in which Bobby [Deol] plays Mirza,” exclaims the doting father.
In fact, comedian Gurpreet Ghuggi is also eager to try his hands at producing a Punjabi film that spells quality and makes it to a film festival. “There aren’t producers who are willing to spend big money on meaningful films. But, I have plans to make one such, which would be a Marathi remake,” he lets us in.
Meanwhile, with Double Di Trouble, director-producer Subhash Ghai also reprises his Punjab connections. “I started my career by acting in a Punjabi film called Sherni (1973). Later, I moved to Mumbai. But now, we aim to produce at least one Punjabi film each year. The Punjabi film industry has grown so much that it has started dominating Hindi films’ business too. Another reason for Bollywood making a foray into Pollywood is that the latter ensure financial recovery with little risk,” Subhash offers.