She’s all of 24, hails from Ludhiana, was raised in Dubai, and is certainly more than just a pretty face.
With her debut directorial venture — Zaalim Dilli — out to release later this year, Japinder Kaur Baweja is all excited to bring forth the Punjabi culture on screen. Shot in Delhi, the comic drama features Divyendu Sharma, Ira Dubey, Miss India Earth (2012) Prachi Mishra and Jackie Shroff.
Currently in Mumbai to work on the post-production of the film, the director who is touted to be one of the youngest filmmakers in Bollywood, says, “Right from childhood, I wanted to be a part of cinema, but didn’t know how to go about it in Dubai. So, after finishing my schooling from The Indian High School in Dubai, I did my bachelors degree in television production and a post-graduate diploma in film direction from Whistling Woods in Mumbai. Then I turned news producer and presenter in Dubai, after which I started assisting Prakash Jha in filmmaking and direction.”
Japinder also assisted filmmaker Shashant Shah (of Challo Dilli fame), before turning director herself.
Ask her why she chose this script particularly — the story of three friends in Delhi — for her debut, and she says, “I am a Punjabi to the core; I wanted my first film to portray the Punjabi culture, traditions, lifestyle and the overall vivaciousness of the people, and the script penned by Manurishi Chaddha appealed to me. Also, ‘Zaalim’ in the title should not be taken literally — it’s been used in a poetic manner — it’s about how the three friends grow up fighting all difficulties.”
The film, interestingly, also features a birthday song by infamous rapper Honey Singh, who would be making his first special appearance in a Bollywood film with Zaalim Dilli.
Clearing her stance, Japinder says, “My family and I enjoy Honey Singh’s music, which is why I thought of roping him in; it is a situational and promotional song. The song is shot at the Cavalli Club and Lounge in Dubai, which has been designed by Roberto Cavalli himself. This is the first time ever that a film was shot at the club. We have also shot a song, which has been sung by Sunidhi Chauhan, at Dubai’s Miracle Garden.”
The film has been shot on a budget of R13 crore, and the next one on her cards is a women-centric film, says Japinder, “It’s a women-oriented film, the script for which has been finalised. The work for the same will start soon after the release of Zaalim Dilli.”
And her experience on Punjab? “I was in Ludhiana recently and spent a good amount of time at our ancestral house. I make it a point to visit once or twice a year, even though we shifted to Dubai many years ago. I’m happy that Punjabi film industry is doing so well. In fact, I would like to direct a Punjabi film soon, if I come across the right script,” says she.