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Crossing The Line

As the lines between regional cinema and Hindi cinema fade, we see Diljit Dosanjh and Neeru Bajwa’s Shadaa create nationwide buzz. In conversation with Bhakti Mehta, the stars talk about the uniqueness of the film, the entertainment value and lots more

The film will be out in a week. How are you feeling right now?

Diljit Dosanjh (DD): Well, right now what I am feeling is cold because the AC is too high here. (Laughs)

Neeru Bajwa (NB): That is why I have a jacket!

DD: I should learn from you now.

Coming to the film, how did the both of you become part of it?

DD: So this film was not offered to me. In fact, the offer was conceived by us. (Laughs) I was actually very keen to do a film on this topic. I spoke to the team about this idea and then I got Jaggi paaji (Jagdeep Sidhu) in. He was the first person to come on board. I told him what the idea was and what we want so that he could pen it down accordingly. He is a very good writer. After that I told him that he should also direct this film. Then the producers came on board, Anurag paaji (Singh), Aman (Gill) and Pawan (Gill) paaji. Since all this pre-production was set, we then started looking for a leading lady. And of course we did not have to look anywhere since Neeru Bajwa, the best, the queen of our film industry, was there. We just had to get her on board for this role. This is how slowly and gradually the film got going as everything fell into place. As I said, Jaggi paaji is a fantastic writer and he wrote a mind-blowing script and has directed it amazingly as well.

NB: I actually had a lot of excitement for this film because it was not only the fans that wanted to see both Diljitji and I work together again but I wanted to work with him again too. In fact, I have worked with the whole team of the film before and there was just so much excitement to do this film. I cannot wait for it to come out in theatres on June 21, and for our fans and the audience to watch us come together again. (Smiles)

The plot seems quite interesting…

DD: (Cuts in) Did you understand it?

Yes, the gist came through.

DD: Now, when you watch the film with subtitles then you will understand it much better. All the thrist, gist, mist, you will get it all! (Laughs) You will feel the film and enjoy it.

And the thing is that this film is not just a comedy. It is not a pointless comedy. There is no slapstick and neither are there any gags. It won’t be like you are sitting and watching the screen and you can see one joke rolling in after the other. There is a story, there is a narrative that keeps moving forward. Yes, there are situations in this story which are funny. I don’t know what it is called exactly but this is what it is.

You will laugh as the story moves forward, you will feel good, you will want to get up and dance, you will feel the romance, everything. Even the characters of my parents, Neeruji’s parents, are very well done. The actors playing those parts have also done a very good job. There are many other actors in the films who are very good. And it is not that we have made this film just to make you laugh. It is a story which you will thoroughly enjoy because the dialogue is very good, written very well. You will laugh, you will be entertained and you will have a good time.

Speaking of characters, Neeru your character is very interesting and, if we can call it that, quite savage.

NB: (Laughs) Well, thank you!

DD: Ooh! Savage… nice word.

NB: Honestly, I love playing strong characters. And for this film, our director went a step ahead and made my character two years older. So the stigma of a woman being past the age of 30 and not married is the butt of a lot of jokes. I was at his and Diljitji’s mercy with that. It was a fresh take on it all. It was hilarious but it was all very real. And it was amazing because it was all of that without being forced or in-your-face.

You have done quite a few films together before this, and the audience loves you two on the big screen. How do you make sure that you keep the chemistry fresh with every film?

DD: I think the writing of the film makes it fresh. The script, the newness of the characters, is something that makes it unique every time we come together on screen. Since the stories are different, our characters are also different. And hence the freshness is definitely going to be there. But the attachment that has now been formed with the audience, that cannot be helped. Ab woh jo hai woh toh hai. There is no way we can break that and we will never attempt to either. (Smiles)

Diljit, we have to talk about the Kylie factor in this film. Since we all know you are a huge Kylie Jenner fan, whose idea was it to name the doll in the film Kylie?

DD: It was not my idea.

Really?

DD: I swear! It was really not my idea. It was an idea that came to our writer-director Jagdeep paaji.

But you must have been glad that he named the doll Kylie.

DD: Arre, why would I happy? Why would I be happy with a doll? Main doll ke saath kya kar sakta hun? Come on, yaar!

(Everybody laughs)

Main ab dolls ke saath khush hone wale logon mein se nahi hun. (Smiles) What happened was that we were shooting for this scene with the doll and he told me that her name would be Kylie in the film. So I said, okay, Kylie it is then. And this was actually something that was improvised on set. It was not really there on the script level. He improvised it, I did not!

The thing is that he likes all these things with dolls and toys. Our director likes it very much. I also like reliving my childhood with these things. When I was young, I took quite a lot of time to give up my childhood toys. I used to play with those toy cars even when I was older and my mother would worry over why I was still playing with kids’ toys. And I also started feeling a little bad so I would hide my toys when guests came over, but then I got a little brother so I would play with the toys on his behalf. (Laughs)

What do you think about the lines blurring between regional cinema and mainstream Hindi cinema today?

DD: I feel that if you have a good film, no matter what the language, it will be appreciated by all. And that is a good thing. If a film is good then somehow it will find a way to reach the audience. I was shooting in Dubai recently for something and the crew, the gaffers, were from places like Bangladesh, Pakistan. And I was surprised that so many people from that group had seen films like Jatt & Juliet. Seeing their reactions I felt that when you have a good film, even you do not know what kind of reach it might just have. And a bad film is a bad film whether it is a bad Punjabi film or a bad Hindi film. There is no use putting out a bad film in any language.

Today, even if you are recording a video on your mobile, if it is good, if it is entertaining, then it will go viral and reach others. I think that line has been broken by the internet already. The differences that used to be between a Punjabi film and a Hindi film or any other regional film are all gone. Now people watch whatever they like. We are also watching films from all over the globe. We are watching actors, admiring them, even though we won’t ever get a chance to meet them. So, there is no line when it comes to good content now.

NB: You know I don’t think that there is any particular validation that you get when you do a Hindi film. It is in the end about a good film or a bad film. I honestly have not been offered a good film in Hindi so I don’t think it is necessary to be validated as a good actor only if you do a Hindi film. I think validation comes from your fans and the love that they give you and your films.

Diljit, you have a huge fan-following in India and abroad. Does the image you have in their eyes ever become a factor when you are choosing scripts?

Yes, I do take fans into consideration, but not in regard to what they will think about what I am doing on screen. The thing is that I do not take myself so seriously. I never think about what people will think of me. But there are some things that even you do not feel like doing, and when I get that feeling, I do not do it. Whatever work I have done till now is work that has made me happy. And if the audience, if my fans, have liked it then somehow, somewhere, there is a connection that has been formed. I keep that in mind. If there is something that I don’t like then why will my fans like it?

What can the audience expect from Shadaa on June 21?

DD: First, I want to request everyone to go and watch the film. This film will for sure release in Mumbai and if you do not know where it releasing then I will help you out by putting it on my social media pages. Everyone should watch the film and let others know about it, they should let us know about it too, about how they have liked the film. The film is made on a good level, only the language is different, and that is also made easier by the subtitles. And it is a promise by Neeruji and I that you will definitely not be disappointed if you watch this film. The content of the film is amazing. It is surely no less than a Bollywood film. If you watch it, it will be a good thing for all, for Punjabi cinema too. But it is not that you have to watch it just to support us, we guarantee that you will have fun watching it.

NB: Yes, it is full of fun and full of entertainment.

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