The year was a mixed bag for the Punjabi film and music industry. While there were stars that shone bright on the horizon of success, many failed to carve a niche for themselves, despite their best attempts.
As 2014 draws to a close, HT City brings to you a bevy of stars from Punjab and the region, who left us starry-eyed as well as those who proved to be squibs. Check them out!
Not for the ‘box’ office
He may have got a ‘clean chit’ post investigation in a doping case, but his ‘youth icon’ image took a back seat anyway.
In fact, with advancing time his popularity has faded and despite his winning a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games 2014 this summer, he failed to grab the limelight.
His entry into Bollywood with ‘Fugly’, a June release, also proved futile, and did nothing to revive his image. The film flopped at the box office and many critics and fans on social media declared it a disaster and a wasted effort.
Fall from grace
When it comes to romantic songs, his name is the first to come to mind. The song ‘Dil dita nahi si’ made him a household name. But unfortunately, this year opened for him behind bars.
He was arrested for raping a Ludhiana girl after he made promised her a chance in one his music videos.
The story doesn’t end here because he was also charged with making an obscene MMS of the girl and blackmailing her with it.
After spending three and a half months in jail, he along with three other friends, were released in April after the girl withdrew charges.
The ‘Missed’ opportunity
The Chandigarh girl who won the Miss India title in 1999 and competed in the Miss Universe contest that same year stepped into politics this year as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate from her hometown, the City Beautiful, but alas she was defeated by Bharatiya Janata Party contemporary and veteran actor Kirron Kher.
Despite tireless campaigning, she failed to taste political victory. It must also be mentioned that she also got embroiled in a war of words with Kher on social media when she said she was not sure whether Kher would have much energy left in her at the age of 60, the retirement age.
Arms and the man
Though Sippy Gill made a successful debut with ‘Jatt Boys’ this year, his latest track Kothe te char ke sun layee khar ke, kharke hatheyaran de from his album ‘Dus Mint’ was criticised by fans and several non-government organisations for its video for promoting brutality and hooliganism.
The video for the song shows how he enters a village and abducts a girl, shooting at people around him. Many termed it as an act of extreme hooliganism and slammed the director and lyricist for the video and song, respectively.
Dented and tainted
Singer-actor Balkar Sidhu was both surprised and shocked when he was first offered a ticket to contest from Talwandi Sabo by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
However, on August 21, he was suspended from the party because he was accused of human trafficking.
Sources said, a Toronto-based woman journalist wrote a letter to Arvind Kejriwal, alleging that Sidhu was responsible for trafficking a girl who belongs to Sidhu’s native village Phulla (Bathinda district).
She was reportedly in Toronto and struggling to get permanent residency there. The case was also highlighted by AAP’s NRI team, which is a major source of funding the party.
In and out
Savita Bhatti’s spirits seemed to have taken a hit after she lost her husband Jaspal Bhatti, popular comedian and satirist. Since then, she has hardly made any appearance in any serial or movie or nukkad natak (street plays).
She also got an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket to contest from Chandigarh in this year’s Lok Sabha elections but later quit without stating any reasons.
However, AAP party supporters later told the media that she gave up because she failed to get support on a local level from AAP supporters.Her checking in and checking out of the party raised many questions.
Punjabi singer Jarnail Singh, popularly known as Jelly, was booked for gang rape and kidnapping along with three other men on October 2014, against a complaint filed by a popular Punjabi actress.
It is alleged that they blackmailed and raped her several times, recording the act. The accused include Swaran Singh, who works in Jelly’s production team, and two others. In her complaint, the actress stated that Jelly had asked her to join him for training in Sector 57. There, she was allegedly gang raped by Jelly and three others. They also recorded the act, she claimed, and “continuously blackmailed and raped” her with the threat of uploading the video on the Internet.
Criticised for singing SAD tunes
During the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, noted Punjabi singers Pooja, Jazzy B, Gippy Grewal, Diljit Dosanjh and Harbhajan Mann, were criticised on social media for siding with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), through television commercials on a private channel.
Thousands of comments poured in on their respective social networking pages but one after the other, they apologised for the same and promised fans that they would not repeat this in future.
Singer Harbhajan Mann who was a chairman of SAS Nagar district planning committee even resigned from the position and said he had no connection with any other political party and wanted to solely serve Punjab and its people through his passion for music.
The superstar stunt
This 79-year-old evergreen superstar, who has captivated millions of hearts ever since he stepped into the world of cinema, returned to the Punjabi film industry this year with the blockbuster Double Di Trouble, in which he did all his stunts without the help of a stunt double. His visits across the state to promote his film were a cynosure for all.
During every interaction with the media, the dashing star, for whom age is just a number, has revealed that love from his fans encourages him to go on. His aim is to bring Punjabi cinema parallel to Bollywood.
The new superstar
Gippy was busy rubbing shoulders with Bollywood stars such as Dharmendra and Poonam Dhillon with whom he acted in Double Di Trouble and Zarine Khan who debuted with him in Jatt James Bond. The film turned out to be a blockbuster and gave the Punjabi audience a new genre- action thriller.
In ‘Bhaji In Problem’, Gippy shared screen space with Akshay Kumar. He is now busy with another film project, Second Hand Husband, in Jalandhar. The singer will be seen alongside Dharmendra and actor Govinda’s daughter Tina Ahuja who is making her acting debut.
Gippy’s solo track ‘Hello Hello’ shot in Las Vegas and released this summer turned out to be extremely popular. In Punjabi musical events across the world, his live performances were lapped up by fans.
The thinking hero
A flawless and dynamic actor, Pavan has charmed the audience as Geet’s uncle in the blockbuster Jab We Met, as army coach Gurdev Singh in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and as Tiger Memon in Black Friday. His lead roles in Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s National Award-winning film Bagh Bahadur and Saeed Akhtar Mirza’s Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro are unforgettable. His character Hari in television series Nukkad is still etched in the minds of his fans.
In 2014, Pavan left the audience awestruck with his portrayal of a cop, Deep Singh Rana, in Punjab 1984. The actor has now taken up the mammoth task of essaying the role of none other than Bhagat Puran Singh, the living saint, who spent his entire life working for those shunned by society and will be seen in the biopic Eh Janam Tumhare Lekhe.
In 2014, Harry Baweja directed the first photo-realistic 3D animation film (S-3D) on Sikh history. Chaar Sahibzaade was based on the tale of four martyrs who bravely took on the Mughal Empire and sacrificed their lives fighting for freedom.
Harry’s aim was to bring to light the untold stories which, till date, were buried in historical books or restricted to granny’s storytelling. The film was the highest grosser of 2014.
Harry says, “Nobody trusted an animation film to have a good opening. On the first day, we earned just about Rs 40 lakh in India but the word of mouth publicity was so strong that the film grossed 3.5 crore in India and one million overseas in the opening weekend.
It feels great to announce that in Australia and New Zealand, after Dhoom 3 and 3 Idiots, it is my film which is the highest grosser.
The chocolate boy
A versatile personality in Punjabi film and music industry, Diljit is a master of all trades. He proved his acting capabilities by playing the character Shiva in one of the highest grossers of 2014- Punjab 1984.
His superhit singles such as Patiala Peg, Soorma, Ray Ban, Selfie, Singh Naal Jodi, Singh is so stylish, have taken the audience by storm. Punjabi film viewers are waiting for his releases in 2015- Mukhtiar Chadha and Sardar Ji.
Highway, or my way
The year 2014 belonged to Randeep. He played prominent roles in Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster and Jannat 2. However, it was his role as Mahabir Bhati in Intiaz Ali’s movie Highway that worked magic, and was appreciated by movie lovers and critics alike.
The actor has always been a pro at handling intense roles. As Himanshu Tyagi in Kick, Raja Ravi Varma in Rang Rasiya and Abhay in Ungli, Randeep has proved his versatility. A global online survey by IMDb ranked him seventh on its list of ‘20 Sexiest Men in the World’. The actor has usually shied away from controversies in the industry and is one of the most focused actors. Looking at his performances in 2014, his career graph seems to be heading to new heights.
Yes we Cannes
Amritsar-based Navtej Sandhu’s short film Nooran brought pride to Punjabi cinema; it was the first-of-its-kind film to enter the 67th Cannes Film Festival this year. The 31-minute film was inspired by renowned Punjabi dramatist and short story writer Balwant Gargi’s story Rabbo Marasan.
The film received an exclusive world premiere in Toronto by the International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA) and Punjabi International Film Festival (PIFF) and now has the honour of being the first ever Punjabi film to be selected in the best short film corner at Cannes.
Catch ‘em young
One of the youngest singers of the Punjabi music industry, Jassi has, in no time, carved a niche for himself. His singles Lancer 2 and Ik Saal can be heard in every nook and cranny of Punjab. His debut album in 2011, Batchmate, became an instant hit with the song Chudiyan winning hearts.
In 2012, he released the single Vigre Sharabi which gave his image a boost. In January 2013, he released his second album Batchmate-2 which went on to become a bigger hit and his song Lancer went viral.
In 2014, he signed three films as a lead actor and also sang a few songs of the film Mr & Mrs 420, Dil Vil Pyar Vyar, Mundeyan Ton Bachke Rahin. Within just three years, the singer has performed in shows across USA, Canada and Australia.
She’s been around a while, and had already graduated from being a TV show actor and presenter to a Punjabi movie star. She had also done some item songs and movies down South. But 2014 was the year Surveen Chawla sizzled in Hate Story 2, and made her mark in Bollywood.
Fun fact: she actually wanted to be a doctor. Thank God, she did not. The year ended rather beautifully for her as she was already being noticed for her rather raunchy but convincing turn in Anurag Kashyap’s Ugly. She says she doesn’t want to keep on doing the bikini-and-kiss act just for the sake of it. Well, as you say, ma’am!
Gutthi ki ghar wapsi
Everyone’s sweetheart Gutthi — perhaps the most popular character on Comedy Nights with Kapil, played by Sunil Grover — hit national headlines at the turn of the year as Sunil wanted to make it on his own.
Not surprising, since Dabwali (Haryana) native Sunil, who is a trained actor from Panjab University, Chandigarh, has been on the scene for several years and was finally being noticed. He left friend Kapil Sharma’s show and soon started Mad in India which launched in January. It tanked for want of popularity, primarily because Kapil’s show had a more imaginative premise.
Then came a happy ending as Sunil returned to Kapil’s show in what could well be described as one of the most discussed story from the TV world in 2014. Sunil was sporting enough to make a joke of his failed venture, and talented enough to again win people’s hearts. All’s well that ends well. This was one ‘ghar wapsi’ that no one complained about!
Highway hit, family flop
Their Coke Studio turn brought them national fame, and in 2014 they got their big Bollywood hit in Pataka Guddi for Highway. Jyoti and Sultana, the Jalandhar-based Nooran Sisters, worked with AR Rehman, sang Irshad Kamil’s words, in an Imtiaz Ali movie, and had the song picturised on Alia Bhatt and Randeep Hooda — everything was perfect. "
Then came the turn, on the family front. Jyoti married her boyfriend against the wishes of her parents. Sultana was apparently on the parents’ side and Jyoti and her husband had to approach court to seek security.
They stayed in a shelter home and later shifted to the husband’s house as tempers calmed. The family unrest is still simmering, but fans have fingers crossed for the Nooran Sisters to come together again. Hope they grab the Sufi space that remains theirs for the taking.
Compiled by Usmeet Kaur, Rameshinder Singh Sandhu and Nanki Singh