Like any other Punjabi, a civil engineer working in a thermal plant in the heartland of Punjab nursed a dream - to go to Canada.
And in 2000, he moved to Toronto. Struggling, doing odd jobs, and even criticized by peers for his decision to leave a settled life back home.
Twelve years hence, he is behind a show every Punjabi sitting across the globe is looking forward to. We are talking about Rajinder Saini (47) from district Pathankot in Punjab, chasing a big dream, organising the first international Punjabi film academy awards.
Saini who manages 'Parvasi media house', picked up the idea from international Indian film academy awards. Punjabi international film academy award function or PIFAA is going to take place in Air Canada Centre, Toronto on August 4 and 10,000 Punjabis were expected to witness the show when the envelopes would open, giving awards to Punjabi fraternity in 16 different categories.
A nine-member jury, including Bollywood actor Om Puri and director Manmohan Singh, would choose the deserving.
"I am very excited…have taken a big challenge," remarked Saini while talking to Hindustan Times, as he oversaw details of the preparations.
A total of 150-something staff is working round the clock for the event to happen. "I have been giving awards to the Punjabi community in Toronto since 2005, recognising their success in different fields, and now we are graduating to a really big show of Punjabi film awards," said Saini, who always wanted to get connected to the glamour world.
"There can't be a better way, and I plan to make the award function an annual event, taking it to different cities around the world," he adds.
Saini tied up with Bollywood actor Dharmendra as brand ambassador for the event and many big names from Punjabi movie industry are following him.
Divya Dutta, Jimmy Shergil and Sonu Sood have already arrived, as have those who would get the awards. "To make PIFAA an annual event, a lot depends on the success of the first event on August 4," says Saini, keeping his fingers crossed.