Though Punjabi cinema has gained worldwide acceptance with some of its blockbusters, including Chaar Sahibzaade, Punjab 1984, Jatt and Juliet series, Carry On Jatta and Jatt James Bond, it has opened to a sluggish start in 2015. Compared to previous years, where six or more movies released in the first two months of 2013 and 2014, only a few films have hit the theatres so far.
The delay in release of Punjabi films can be attributed to a number of reasons, including the entry of new producers for quick money, over-budgeting, unorganised shooting schedules and the demand for higher pay by actors.
Director Smeep Kang of Carry on Jatta fame said, “The number of releases in 2012-13 was more as there was a backlog of films from the previous years. Besides, producers usually prefer to release films after Baisakhi as people tend to step out lesser during this time of the year due to the annual exams, cold weather and even the cricket season for that matter.” While 2013 saw a release of 38 films, 32 were released in 2014.
Filmmakers now believe that the gap is likely to be removed in the coming months, with regular producers from the industry experimenting with a variety of genres in Pollywood, irrespective of the number of films being released.
Producer-distributor Gunbir Singh shares how sudden hits like Jatt and Juliet 1 & 2, and Carry On Jatta in 2012 brought many people, including real estate owners, into this industry as they considered it a lucrative option. “As the success rate decreased in 2013, these real estate owners quit, leaving behind the regular producers. In fact in 2014, most of the films were flops and many producers ended up losing money. But now, it’s heading towards positive direction with good films,” says Gunbir Singh.
The road ahead
In order to showcase good cinema, the directors have planned to come up with different film concepts. Some of the unconventional films that have been released so far include Kudesan, Qissa and Eh Janam Tumhare Lekhe.
“Now that the artificial bubble of the last two years has burst. Around seven good films are expected to be released this year,” says Gunbir.
Anurag Singh, the director of hit films such as Disco Singh and Punjab 1984, explains how makers are now trying to package their films in different ways, including taking famous actors, to lure audience. “The Punjabi film industry is not a safe investment anymore. Though the count of films might be less, good films will be made this time,” he believes.
Known for his comedy films, Smeep Kang is now working on a family thriller, Lock, which features Geeta Basra and Gurpreet Ghuggi.
Gippy Grewal will be doing a cameo in it. “Directors are exploring new genres. I, myself, am working on a film out of my comfort zone,” Kang adds.
On July 31, Jeet Matharru’s Sikka will be released, which is ‘the first ever Punjabi horror film’. Meanwhile, Jatt James Bond director Rohit Jugraj’s Sardaarji will feature Diljit Dosanjh, Neeru Bajwa, Mandy Takhar and Jaswinder Bhalla. It is touted as a costly film with a budget of nearly Rs 8.5 crore. Next is an action film, Zoravar which stars Yo Yo Honey Singh. A film titled Mukhtiar Chadha, starring Diljit Dosanjh, Oshin Sai, Yashpal Sharma, Kiran Joneja, Jaswant Rathor and Khyali is also up for a release this year.
Films to watch out for