An Interview with Charismatic classic Actor, Director, Writer, Producer Harpreet Sandhu – Arrival of Paralell Cinema in Punjabi Film Industry in form of Modern Satyajit Ray.
Q: What was your life like growing up?
I was born in Rurka Kalan, Punjab, India and spent the early part of my life living in a remote village. Playing sports, with the other kids in the village. I educated myself throughout grade school and into University. I competed as a Track athlete for the Indian National Team so did not go though the typical classroom schedule as other students. I spent my days training 3 times a day, and raised on afarm carried all the farm duties simultaneous to my rigorous training and education schedule I am a post-graduate of Khalsa College,Amritsar and a former multiple world, asian, national, university gold medalist for 1500m and 800m.
Q: What inspired you to become an actor? Why do you want to act in films? Do you prefer film or theatre?
Acting is an expressive art that allows you to convey through your sense. It is the purest form of art that is most difficult and cannot be manipulated. Audience can always distinguish between a good actor and a mediocre one. I am an achiever and in life you have to have a passion to live for. Therefore it is important for me to live my life through crat of acting. I believe theatre and film are two different kinds; I prefer film because camera caputres anything and everything you live through your character. It is not loud but subtle and shows true focus and strength of an actor.
Q: What inspired you to write a film script, why would you want to make films?
It is very unfortunate that these days, Indian films in general, lack good scripts. If I ever want to be invovled in a project it must be at the level I can act. I was having hard time finding good scripts andsince I have been long invovled in the creative process and I enjoy deep Urdu, Farsi and Hindi poetry. When there is a draught of creative peronalities in a pool, how can it be hoped that there would be goodresults? Pen and paper are cheaply available, but good writing is not. It all comes from passion of creating sensible with a motive to write a good script. I want to make films for multiple reaons. Money was never a reason when I started but reality kicks in sooner or later. Films are bigger canvas and can influence masses. I’d want to influence masses with positive Cinema and I see films are the most influential brach of media to deliver a positive message.
Q: How do you keep yourself fit through your busy schedule?
Keeping fit is a lifestyle. There are only a few important things to do in life, rest is just desire. Eat healthy, keep fit and prosper. It’s about maintaining a balance. There are daily priorities and fitness is one of them.
Q: If you weren’t an actor what would you be?
I would still be an actor. We all act in daily life, in one form or another. You might have to do other things for daily business but acting is always there for you. It won’t leave you unless you leave it.
Q: Tell us about your film experience?
My film experience involves first training under world renowed hollywood actress Debra Powdowski. I was very intrigued with the whole creative process and has this burning desire within to complete something of substance and to express through a craft that moves so many people. It led me to become an actor in Hollywood acting in various american films and commercials, to creating a musical short film for which I won many awards such as:
- Award of Excellence: Los Angeles Movie Awards 2011
- Honorable Mention: Los Angeles Reel Film Festival 2011
- Best Music Video: Onecloud Film Festival, Sweden 2011
- Official Selection: Toronto Independent Film Festival 2011
- Showcase: Lucerne International Film Festvial, Switzerland 2011 for Judaaiyaan: The Separation.
I later worked in TV series in Canada, and moved on to creating my first feature film in the Punjabi industry.
Q: How do you manage to balance your workload of the entire creative process from writing to directing to acting & managing your entire team?
There are phases in film making. It is not a destination, it is a journey. Each step has its importance and is never overlooked because of other component. I am a very humble person but at times you have to step up the plate.
Q: Why did you decide to create Work Weather Wife? When will it be releasing?
I believe, one’s identity is more important than fame. Creating Work Weather Wife is a turning point in Punjabi Film Industry. This is the beginning of meaningful yet commercial Cinema. Here, the gauge is not how bad you can sing and still how famous you are. Here, the gauge is how good your script, execution and above all acting is. The film is set to release in October 2014.
Q: Tell us about the work you did in Work Weather Wife?
Well first of all I had to adjust my appearance to fit this character I played. My Character was Vick am Indo-Canadian male in his mid 20’s, who was a negative shade throughout the film, goes through many turn of events and ends in a positive wrap. He was flirty, witty, handsome, an addict and a con-artist who has expensive fantasies and accessories. It was a challenging task to portray this as thisis completely opposite to who I am. The film which was conceived, written, directed and edited by myself, is gaining a cult status among the young aspiring actors and critics. I envisioned a topic that needed to be addressed i.e. Drug Abuse, Infidelity, the complexities of immigrant life, family, responsibility, decisions, and saw it come to light through numerous hours of hard work, blood and sweat, with the most beautiful songs which I directed, and created a balanced artistic and commercial film. I also dubbed some Urdu scripted poetry throughout the film to add that beautiful artistic touch.
Q:What is the main difference between your style and mainstream Punjabi films?
I have brought a hollywood trained eye, and unique cinematography to this industry. I have decided to not include any singers as actors. I have chosen to include only fresh raw talented actors. The film is fully canadian made and expresses truth through commercial eye. It does not fall short of any emotion and is the most gripping film this industry has ever seen.
Q: What is your most memorable moment of your acting career so far?
Every moment is memorable when you’re acting unless you are a repetitive actor or acting as yourself not as a character in the film.
Q: What is your favourite food?
Simple Punjabi Caramelized Sugarcane and Corn Chapati.
Q: Who is your favourite actor in Punjabi?
Q: In Hindi?
Quite a few. K K Menon, Irrfan, Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Aazmi are a few.
Q: I heard your style of direction is compared to Satyajit Ray and you’re nicknamed modern Satyajit Ray by friends?
There are quite a few Directors I like. Akira Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray, Martin Scorsese. I have learned by watching their films but my style is not really influenced by any. Yes, jokingly friends do call names.