The man who has always been known for working in content-driven and quality Punjab cinema, is back once again. HT City speaks to actor-singer Harbhajan Mann about his choice of films, the changing aspects of the Punjabi film industry and more.
While the industry itself has witnessed a series of ups and downs ever since the 1930s and similarly for its actors, there was no looking back for Harbhajan Mann who debuted with Manmohan Singh’s Jee Ayan Nu. The film is considered to be a benchmark in reviving the Punjabi film industry, which was dying a slow death at that time.Mann’s acting was appreciated in other films some of which include Asa Nu Maan Watna Da, Dil Apna Punjabi and Mitti Wajan Mardi and Haani.
Unaffected by the relatively new stream of actors such as Diljit Dosanjh, Gippy Grewal, Amrinder Gill and Jimmy Shergill, Mann belongs to a league of his own. Gearing up to be a part of a suspense emotional thriller in May (Gadar), he will also be seen in a poltical drama (CM Sahib) in October. On the music front, the singer will be collaborating with Dr Zeus and Tigerstyle for the single Husn di Kali (releasing April end).
Q:The year 2014 saw a record number of Punjabi films, witnessed new genres and set new benchmarks. Being the revivalist of the Punjabi cinema, do you feel the young league of actors are doing justice to the quality of Punjabi industry currently?
I am proud of them. Actors like Diljit, Gippy, Amrinder and others have definitely ventured into different films and performed well which, in turn, has benefitted Punjabi Cinema in a big way. If stars do not lead from the front, who else will?
Q: Your new film Gaddar- The Traitor claims to bringing a new genre in Punjabi cinema? Will it be a trendsetter?
It is a serious attempt made by the team of the film Haani. Amitoj Mann and I have worked hard and are firm believers that the film Gaddar will be a crowd puller. I play an intense character in the film – it is a new avtaar and new genre suspense thriller. Through this film we have tried our best to raise the standards of filmmaking in Punjabi cinema. It is a content driven script with spell bounding stunts, cinematography to the peak and I can assure the action and other techniques used are at par with those used in Bollywood or even Hollywood for that matter. The film is a suspense emotional thriller.
Q: Even though your last film Haani had an interesting script, it was unable to taste commercial success. Why?
To be honest, there were no funds left to promote the film. In today’s time, two factors work in such situations. First - is a well made film and secondly and moreover, good promotion only then a film can relish commercial success. Last time, it was a mistake we did not promote the film and thus, masses were unaware about Haani. Now, in case of Gaddar, it is the first time in Punjabi cinema that the filmmaker is promoting a seven digital teaser.
Q: How do you view the Punjabi film industry’s future? Is it on the right path?
Filmmakers , producers and actors – all have to take a pledge that we should experiment with scripts and aim to make a film which is not a mere comedy play clipped together to make a film for the heck of making it. A good film will always work..it should be made well and at the same well-marketed. Rest assured, Punjabi cinema is headed in the right direction so far but we all need to make credible films which procure the reputation of this cinema and attract audiences to theatres.