Jaspal Bhatti, whose swansong Power Cut is due for release on Friday, worked for almost 26 years in the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).
The board was bifurcated into the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) and Punjab State Transmission Corporation Limited (PSTCL) in 2010, even as Bhatti took premature retirement in 2006 to concentrate on making TV serials and movies.
An electrical engineer who passed out of Punjab Engineering College here in 1978, Bhatti joined the PSEB as an assistant engineer in 1980. His father, MS Bhatti, also an engineer, occupied a senior position in the board at that time.
“He was fond of satire. In the mid-1980s, he used to produce satirical clips for the programme ‘Rang Ch Bhang’ on Jalandhar Doordarshan. He was a fine man, very soft-spoken,” recalled VK Gupta, who worked with Bhatti in the hydroelectric design wing of the Punjab irrigation department, where Bhatti worked for about 10 years on deputation.
Later, Bhatti joined the design wing of the Ranjit Sagar dam. “In view of his interest in satire and movie-making, the majority of his service tenure was in Chandigarh,” added Gupta, who retired as additional superintendent engineer and was six years senior to Bhatti. Rising to the post of senior executive engineer, Bhatti took premature retirement on August 3, 2006.
“Though I never worked with Bhatti, I found him to be a good man. He didn’t talk much, but his movies and public performances showed that he was concerned about social issues and the problems faced by the common man,” said PSPCL chairman-cum-managing director KD Chaudhari.
Talking about Power Cut, Chaudhari said the power corporation would deliberate on issues raised in the movie.
RP Pandove, chief administrator, PSPCL, remembered Bhatti as a jovial person. “But his death has saddened everyone,” he said, adding that Bhatti had made movies on energy conservation and power theft for the power corporation after retirement.
EC loses brand ambassador
With the death of Jaspal Bhatti, the Election Commission (EC) of India has lost its brand ambassador for Punjab. With the aim of increasing voter participation, Bhatti was made the brand ambassador before the January 30 assembly elections. Chief electoral officer, Punjab, Kusumjit Sidhu, called Bhatti “a pillar of social satire, renowned actor and political satirist, known for his humorous but impactful style of projecting the social aberration.”
In his trademark tongue-in-cheek style, Bhatti had demanded that the EC should not take notice of rival candidates stooping to mudslinging and even character assassination to some extent as it gave colour to the elections.
“When candidates dig up each other’s scandals, it provides entertainment to the public and they get involved in the democratic process with greater interest,” he had written to the EC.
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A life less ordinary
1955 Born on March 3 at Amritsar in a Rajput Sikh family
1976 Forms Nonsense Club, which performs spoofs on social ills
1978 Graduates from Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh, forms Nonsense Club, which performs spoofs on social ills
1982 Joins The Tribune as a cartoonist; shows his flair for satire
1984 Makes TV debut on Jalandhar Doordarshan with ‘Rang Ch Bhang’, a two-minute interlude shown between Chitrahaar songs
1991 Becomes national celebrity with Flop Show, a 10-episode serial aired on Doordarshan
1999 Directs his first Punjabi feature film, Mahaul Theek Hai, a satire on Punjab Police
2000-06 Acts in several Hindi films, including Fanaa and Koi Mere Dil Se Poochhe; also stars in Punjabi DVD movie Jijaji
2007 Launches MAD (Media and Digital) Arts film school at Mohali; directs 52-episode comedy series Thank You Jijaji, aired on SAB TV
2008 Participates with wife Savita Bhatti in dance reality show Nach Baliye on Star Plus
2012 His Punjabi movie, Power Cut, starring his son Jasraj Bhatti, to be released today, a day after his death
Inputs by Usmeet Kaur