After producing, writing and evolving as the protagonist of Saada Haq, a movie grounded in the cold reality of the ’80s and ’90s, a period of turmoil in Punjab, Kuljinder Singh Sidhu (right), 40, is all geared up for the release of his second Punjabi film, ‘Yoddha- The Warrior’, this Friday.
As the film’s name suggests, Sidhu, who has achieved recognition as a Sikh actor in his own right, would now be seen essaying the role of a warrior. The film is set in the border area of Punjab where the drug mafia rules. It is a story of the state’s youth in the face of the drug problem.
Sidhu plays Ranjodh Singh, a baptised Sikh hero, who fights the corrupt system and drug abuse.
Trendsetter at 40
Describing himself as a trendsetter at 40, Sidhu says, “I have worked really hard to portray myself as a Yoddha. The character demanded a transformation of my physique. A warrior needs to have a body that speaks for him. It would be first time in the history of Punjabi cinema that a baptised Sikh Hero will evolve as a protagonist in a movie.”Sidhu is not afraid of controversy.
“There are chances that my film may face criticism from the audience and Sikh religious leaders but I don’t really care. I believe we have done nothing wrong if we have proved that a Sikh can become a hero in a commercial film.”
During his recent visit to Amritsar, Sidhu claimed to have offered the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee authorities an opportunity to view the film but the response was disappointing. He claimed that he wanted to promote the film in Punjab by hosting its premiere. “I would just say that religio-political bodies should start adopting cinema as a medium to teach the rich history of Punjab and the Gurus to the youth. There has been lack of interest from their (the SGPC’s) side in backing period films or those with a strong story line. They are unaware that cinema is the biggest medium to reach out to the masses,” he says.
In his own league Talking about the competition he might be facing from the young league of stars of Punjabi cinema such as Diljit Dosanjh, Amrinder Gill and Gippy Grewal, he says, “I entered the industry comparatively late but by adding perfection to my character like this makeover despite touching 40, has put me in competition with actors half my age. People like my work because I provide them with well-researched scripts.”
Sharing his experience in the Punjabi film industry, Sidhu says: “Initially, when I dreamt of becoming an actor, my dream was so weak that I got disheartened by people’s non-cooperative attitude. Even my close relatives doubted my talent but I was firm about acting as I wanted to contribute quality scripts to Punjabi cinema.”Sidhu is aware of the competition but is happy that at least he is not among those singer-turned-actors working in films without a good script.
“In today’s era, the audience knows which film is good and which is not. Gippy Grewal’s film ‘Jatt James Bond’ did well as it was a good film. The same goes for Amrinder Gill in ‘Goreyan Nu Daffa Karo’ and epic film ‘Punjab 1984’. Diljit acted in ‘Punjab 1984’ as well as in ‘Disco Singh’ but the latter flopped. Why? Simply because it lacked a good script.”
Rooted in reality
Talking about his film Yoddha, Sidhu says, “The film has been cleared by the censor board. We have only shown reality. The drug racket in Punjab involves politicians, police officials and other authorities and has left the state’s youth shattered. Through this film, we have tried to awaken the youth and teach them how to be cautious and fight drug menace. It is an action-packed film but in reality, the youth should stand up for their rights.”Yoddha has been directed by Mandeep Benipal, who was also the director of Saada Haq.