International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA) and Punjabi International Film Festival (PIFF), Toronto, have selected Nooran, a 30-minute short Punjabi film by Amritsar-based Navtej Sandhu for an exclusive world premier to be held on September 22 in Toronto, Canada. It may be called a ‘short film’, but Navtej’s debut touches the subject of women empowerment and took inspiration from renowned Punjabi dramatist and short story writer, Balwant Gargi’s story Rabbo Marasan.
Sharing details about his venture, Navtej says Nooran will give a new and meaningful direction to Punjabi cinema. “My objective behind the film is to promote meaningful cinema that can inspire the society in the right direction,” says Navtej, the producer and director of the film, adding that he would follow this principle in his future projects as well.
Veteran Punjabi actor and theatre artist Sardar Sohi plays the male lead against actress Kul Sidhu, another renowned theatre artiste who was appreciated for her role in Gurvinder Singh’s National Award winning Punjabi film Anhe Ghore Da Daan. The supporting cast of Nooran includes Jaswant Jass, Gurinder Makna and Gurbinder Bhatti—all from the world of theatre.
“I decided to choose actors with a background in theatre since I believe that they are the ones who can remain authentic to their roles,” shares Navtej, who feels ecstatic with the fact that he has roped in upcoming talent of Punjabi music including singers Anuj Charturvedi and Meenu Sharma Chaturvedi and lyricist Amardeep Singh Gill.
Navtej has been associated with the Punjabi entertainment industry ever since he graduated from Khalsa College, Amritsar, in 1993. Not many know that Navtej started by organising live concerts of various singers through Sur Saanjh, a group he created and which is now associated with the film and music industry of Punjab. In 2002, his group helped promote Punjabi film Jee Aayan Nu, starring Harbhajan Mann and Priya Gill, which marked a renaissance of Punjabi cinema.
In his career so far, Navtej has promoted numerous Punjabi films and actors. In 2007, he also started a Punjabi film festival, managed by the group Sur Saanjh, to honour the unique talent of Punjabi cinema.
For Punjab’s audience, Navtej will hold a premier of Nooran at the auditorium of Khalsa College for Women, Amritsar, on September 25, where many Punjabi actors and writers are expected to be a part of the show. Amritsar was his maiden choice for the premier since it is his hometown and most of the film’s artists are from here, he said.