Salman Khan starrer ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ has been ringing the cash registers of the box office since its release. And, while we absolutely cannot get over the return of the good old ‘Bhai’ and how entertaining he was, the film’s Punjabi connection must not be overlooked.
One of the supporting cast is Punjabi theatre artist and Chandigarh-based line producer Darshan Aulakh. For those who have watched the film, if you recall the opening scene and the bit where the mute girl’s mother tries to convince the Attari railway station superintendent to let her cross the border to look for her child, you know who we are talking about.
Born and brought up in Abohar, Punjab, Aulakh moved to Chandigarh to study Punjabi language at Panjab University in his early 20s. His interest in theatre and folk dance paved way for his engagement with the film industry. With over 28 years of experience in the field as a line producer, he was excited to work with director Kabir Khan yet again. “I remember we were shooting for Saif-Katrina starrer ‘Phantom’ with Kabir in 2013 and that’s when we got to know that Salman wanted his film to be completed first,” says Aulakh, who helped the director secure all permissions to shoot at the border. “We would shoot into the late hours and I used to be so apprehensive - as to what if any of the cast or crew members from Mumbai strayed on to the other side of the border, they would be shot. So I would always remain vigilant since I knew the area well,” he says.
Proud to be part of the film that focuses on humanity over barriers, the 50-year-old feels such films can go a long way in conveying what mere politics may not be able to. Having enjoyed working with superstar Salman, with whom he has also worked in ‘Heroes’ and ‘London Dreams’, he says, “Salman is a wonderful human being and fondly called me Paaji on the sets and gifted me a ‘Being Human’ t-shirt and a pendant.”
The actor is now gearing up for the release of Kabir Khan’s next, which has been widely shot in parts of Chandigarh, Patiala and Malerkotla, he also plans to produce a film on the increasing drug addiction among Punjabi youth. Besides assisting in various Bollywood film projects, Aulakh also played a pivotal role in managing the shooting of Oscar-winning Hollywood film ‘Zero Dark 30’ (2012) in Chandigarh.