How are you feeling ahead of the release of Carry On Jatta 3?
I’m feeling amazing, grateful, and happy to see how people responded to the trailer. I was so happy to see how warmly we were welcomed to launch our film’s trailer in Mumbai. I feel so grateful to Aamir Khan for attending the trailer launch and supporting our film. I think he didn’t just support our film, he supported Punjabi cinema. It was overwhelming and I’m still processing it. It was kind of him to invite our entire cast for dinner, too.
Do you think the Punjabi film industry should have done a pan-India release earlier?
Maybe, we should have done it earlier. But I’m glad that we didn’t wait for someone else to do it and did it ourselves with this film. The language barrier is slowly fading away for not just Punjabi films but all language films. A Marathi film was remade in Punjabi. I live in Mumbai. I went to watch Sairat (2016) twice in cinemas. If you relate to the content, then language is no barrier. Any content that has a pan-India connection will find its audience.
I hope the pan-India release of Carry On Jatta 3 will blur the language barrier even further. Punjabi songs have been an integral part of Hindi movies. Mumbai concerts of Punjabi singers get sold out easily. In comedies, if you don’t understand the nuances of a language then you may not understand it fully. But you can understand drama and action without fully understanding the language.
Do you think a comedy like Carry On Jatta 3 could easily fit in the Hindi market?
With due humility and modesty, I’ll say that in comedy, Punjabi films are superior to Hindi films. Because humour is in our genes. We not only crack jokes but also can take jokes on ourselves. It is very common in our households. Punjabi comedies have their own USP and they’re in their own league. There’s no comparison between Punjabi and Hindi films.
You have worked in films from South India, too. What can the Punjabi film industry learn from their releases to achieve pan-India success?
See, there’s a difference in budgets. It all comes down to the money spent. The Punjabi film industry needs to explore different genres. We are a little scared of trying something new, thinking people might not come to watch it. I have observed that in Punjabi films we work a little less in pre-production. Of course, there are exceptions. But this is my observation throughout my 10 years in the industry. If we work a little more in pre-production our costs will be a lot more in control.
Have you personally tried to bring in a change?
I have had this discussion with so many filmmakers but they say that you can’t pre-plan a lot when you’re making a comedy.
Punjab has so much history. But we need budgets to make films based on history. I think it’s a matter of one big film and things will start moving. Big films on different subjects are currently in the making. Let’s see how those films do.
In our industry, actors have to do a lot of work by themselves. In other industries, you can have an entourage of 10 people for an actor. In many films, I am my own stylist. I do my own costume and makeup. We’re independent like that. I am happy that I started in Punjab because I’m very independent.
What kind of cinema do you want to be a part of?
My film Godday Godday Cha, which was released recently is doing really well. I want to do that kind of female-centric cinema. Secondly, I love romance as a genre. I haven’t got the opportunity to do an intense romantic film yet. I have done many romcoms. I also want to do a sports film. There was a plan earlier but I had a shoulder injury so it didn’t materialize. When I started, actresses were expected to only look good. Nobody was bothered about their acting.
When did things change for you then?
Things changed for me when I did Guddiyan Patole (2019). The same year, another film of mine was released titled Ardab Mutiyaran. 2019 was a game-changer for me. The first female-led critically acclaimed and commercially hit Punjabi film belonged to me. That was the year people started looking beyond my looks. Before that, I remember praying to God that please give me a film where I have the scope to perform.
Which actresses from the Hindi film industry do you like?
I like Alia Bhatt. Her work speaks for itself. Highway is one of my favourite films.
Any plans to do Hindi films?
Let’s see. There was a time when I wanted to do Hindi films. People have made a parameter that as an actor you’re only successful if you have done a Hindi film. But that’s not success. Success lies in enjoying the work you’re doing. And I’m doing that in Punjab. I am working with the best of the actors and amazing scripts. I wouldn’t trade that for something mediocre just to be in a Hindi film. I get a lot of offers but I want to do something worthwhile that makes my fans in Punjab feel proud of me, no matter which language film it is. So far, I couldn’t even convince myself to do the films that I was offered in Hindi. I am open to OTT also.
How was your tour with
It was very good. Most of my Punjabi co-stars are singers. So, I heard stories from them explaining the euphoria of live performances in front of audiences. The tour was a chance to perform for our fans on their favourite songs. What a wonderful feeling it was to see people not just singing your songs but also dancing with you. I was the only Punjabi actor in that whole group but they made me feel at home. I learned so much on that tour and I’m so grateful for that opportunity.