Dil kahe maaran udaari,
Punjabi cinema ch jaavan,
Apni kahani Punjabi cinema de sitaareyan nu,
Apni zubaani sunaavan!
The above lines are not mere a set of rhythmic lines but someone’s yearning which is ubiquitous in his own self for years now. In a bid to choose a certain career, he too followed a pre-defined path which led him to his destination. When the career is related to the film industry, the (by default) destination for most people is the city of dreams – Mumbai.
An alumnus of Department of Indian Theatre (Panjab University, Chandigarh), director and writer Saahil Kohli, aka Happy Kohli, has been working as a director in the TV industry for some years now. During his stint in Mumbai, he has directed renowned serials like ‘Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya’, ‘Lajwanti, ‘Khatmal-e-Ishque’, ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’, ‘Yaaron Ka Tashan’, ‘Aye Zindagi’ and others. In addition to that, he has also directed a purposeful short film named ‘Sunset Years’ and several Hindi music videos. Having worked on these successful projects, his topmost aspiration now is to work in the Punjabi cinema.
In an interview with Punjabi Mania, he revealed, “I live in Mumbai but I want to work in the Punjabi film industry now. There is this burning feeling inside me which tells me to work in my mother tongue, to direct Punjabi films. Moreover, the joy of working in your hometown or places near it is unmatched. Mumbai has made me what I am today and I am very thankful to this city but that contentment of working in Punjab is still missing.”
Watch a sneak peak of Kohli’s show named ‘Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya’:
“Whenever I watch the sky in Mumbai, all I see is Punjabi actors and me working with them. My attachment with my roots force me to work in Punjab now. As a result of this contagious Punjab-driven vibes, even my wife and six-year old boy are fond of watching Punjabi TV channels in Mumbai. I am so obsessed with our culture and language that there are times when I end up speaking in Punjabi on the sets of my TV serials in Mumbai. Anyone who has worked with me can tell you about my knack of ending a scene in an archetype Punjabi accent, ‘Cut Oye!'”
The urge of making a living in your own city (Patiala, in his case) is quite common. When one belongs to Punjab, this urge grows manifold times because of how welcoming and warm the state and its people are. It is worth mentioning that Kohli made his directorial debut in the Punjabi cinema with the movie ‘Love Yoou Soniye’ (2013), which received mixed response at the box-office. What the movie did was aid him in tasting blood (of working in the Punjabi cinema) and it is this craving which makes him want to work in the Punjabi cinema now more than ever.
“I am gearing up to work in the Punjabi industry again. I am about to finish writing a script myself. I can’t reveal much about it at this point in time but all I can say is that it is an urban romantic-comedy, something that is uncommon in the Punjabi industry. I am working very hard on it. I don’t know if the movie will become a money-spinner or not but I will put my heart and soul in it. I am planning to visit Punjab soon and meet producers and actors over there. With the blessings of the almighty, we might make the official announcement soon”, he was quoted.
Watch an episode of his show ‘Khatmal-e-Ishque’:
On being asked about the potential names in which he sees the characters of his movie, he said, “I am open to working with each and every artist of the Punjabi industry. There is a uniqueness attached to each one of them. Having said that, I would also like to mention that I really admire the quintet of Jaswinder Bhalla, Binnu Dhillon, Karamjit Anmol, Gurpreet Ghuggi and B.N. Sharma. The consistency with which these actors have been entertaining us over the years is commendable.”
On being asked about his vision before directing a movie or a serial, he answered, “Irrespective of the project, my most basic aim is to entertain the audiences with conviction. I am a firm believer of showing relatable things on the screen. Whenever anyone watches my work, he/she should feel that there are traits of his/her own story in it. Before commencing any project, doing the groundwork is a necessity for me. I strongly believe that if you are clear with your thoughts on paper, execution becomes very easy.”
Watch a dialogue promo of his movie:
During the conversation, one comes across moments when Kohli recites songs written by him for his movie. On being asked about the books he reads to enhance his writing ability, he answered, “I don’t read much. I believe that life in itself is the biggest book, the biggest learning that we have received. I believe that life, as an institution, has enough teachings in store for us.”
On being asked about any message that he would want to give to the audiences of Punjab, he said, “It is my earnest request to the people that they should give at lease one chance to a filmmaker, that they should watch a movie before judging anyone. After all, a film is made for the audiences. A lot goes behind the making of every film. For a director, there is no bigger disappointment than watching a sensible movie not doing well at the box-office.”
We, at Punjabi Mania, wish him all the best and hope that his yearning of working in the Punjabi film industry becomes a reality in the near future. Watch his short film named ‘Sunset Years’ below: