The first thing you notice about this Punjaban, if you’re seeing her after a while, is the absence of those extra pounds that made her look chubby on screen. In her new avatar, former Miss World Punjaban 2006-2007, actor Japji Khaira is ready to set the screen on fire with two of her upcoming Punjabi movies—Singh Vs Kaur and an untitled directorial venture by Rimpy Prince.
The conversation, quite obviously, commences with the mention of her weight loss. “I have lost about 8 to 9 kg,” declares she. After receiving appreciation for her visible efforts, she talks about making it to the industry, “I was born in Amritsar, but at the age of 10, we moved to Australia. Before winning Miss World Punjaban, I had also won titles such as Miss Sharara Queen 2003, Miss Sugar Festival 2004, Miss Charity Queen 2005 and Miss Punjaban Australia 2006. It was after Miss World Punjaban that director Manmohan Singh and singer-actor Harbhajan Mann approached me for Mitti Wajan Mardi.”
Post Mitti Wajan Mardi, Khaira moved back to Australia and hence went missing on the screens. “A lot of offers came my way, but I was always interested in quality, not quantity. So, I did Dharti in 2010 and later a promotional song for Taur Mitran Di in 2011. But, I always fostered the dream of shifting base to Mumbai—the city of dreams. The dream came true in January 2012, and by June 2012 I got busy with Singh Vs Kaur.”
About her roles in some upcoming movies, she says, “Singh Vs Kaur is a rom-com where I’m playing the role of Punjabi girl Simrat, who goes to Canada to find her boyfriend. In the second movie, the title of which has not been decided yet, I’m playing the protagonist, Geet, opposite Roshan Prince. I loved the script, which is a situational comedy, and I’m simply in love with my character. I will be seen playing various shades here and the audience will get to see the performer in me.”
But then again, like most other Punjabi actors, there are certain things about the Punjabi film industry that concern the pretty lady. “The Punjabi film industry is still a child. We all need to nourish it with care. My first movie came out in 2007, when Punjabi directors weren’t many in number. From then to now, things have changed quite a bit—be it the demand of the audience or the technology.
There are, however, certain factors that still need improvement. The concept of casting doesn’t exist in our industry. Actors are not cast according to the role, but according to the demand of the actor. Moreover, we believe in following the herd mentality in Punjab.
Everyone plays safe; no one is ready to experiment. It’s high time we make films on other subjects. If Bollywood can make Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Vicky Donor, why can’t we choose such subjects for our movies?” she concludes.