Having written the dialogues for Vijay Kumar Arora’s ‘Ronde Sare Vyah Picho‘ (2013) to writing the script for Vijay Kumar Arora’s ‘Harjeeta‘ (2018), there was no doubt whatsoever in Jagdeep Sidhu’s rising up the ranks in the Punjabi film industry. In between those two movies, he had also penned down several other movies including the critically and commercially acclaimed ‘Nikka Zaildar’ series.
In which was expected to go down as another movie written by him and directed by someone else, it was Sidhu’s destiny which made him the director as well. Speaking of destiny, his imminent movie named ‘Qismat’ will mark his directorial debut in the Punjabi film industry.
In an interview with Punjabi Mania, Sidhu unveiled his hesitation regarding directing a movie initially, speaking about how eventually he ended up directing one. “Having written this script, I really believe that it is different. In the past, no one has wholly touched the romantic genre in the Punjabi industry. Romance has been shown in the Punjabi cinema but along with add-ons like comedy and action. I approached a few directors but no one was willing to direct a movie on this subject. It was then that I decided to foray into direction, ending up directing the movie myself”, Sidhu said about what forced him to take the matter in his own hands.
On being asked about the difference between writing and directing a movie, Sidhu claimed the former to be a much easier task. “While writing a script, your own mind should be active. You just have to be in that zone. However, while directing a movie, you have numerous responsibilities on your shoulders”, he said.
“Because the Punjabi industry is not very professional, it still lacks basic teamwork and other facilities. Work being divided into departments is a major missing. As a result, all these things fall on the director. Even the songs of the movie are selected by the director. Apart from being involved creatively, you have to get involved technically as well. According to me, a director’s job is really tough”, he further said on the same topic.
For someone who is a part of the industry for over half-a-decade, making friends in the industry is bound to happen. On being asked about if he had received an advice from any established director before directing his first movie, he disclosed that he spoke to a couple of friends from within the industry who motivated him to go ahead with the project.
“I really like Anurag (Singh) bhaji’s work in the Punjabi industry. I spoke to him and he advised me to follow my heart. He told me that my first film will be my most honest attempt at film-making and that I won’t get this opportunity in the future. After the first film, things like big actors, big production houses and the commercial aspect come into the picture, which force you to deliver hit movies, taking a toll on your honesty”, Sidhu said about an advice from the ‘Jatt & Juliet’ series director.
“I am on good terms with Amber (Amberdeep Singh) as well. He always used to tell me that I should start directing movies. He was always of the opinion that if I am able to write well, I will be able to direct as well“, Sidhu spoke about receiving a piece of suggestion from Amberdeep Singh, who successfully walked the writer-turned-director road last year.
Speaking about his vision before directing Qismat, Sidhu revealed that he kept it simple as putting exclusive emphasis on the emotions and feelings [in a romantic movie] was his main motive. He also said that he tried to deviate away from including excessive comic punches in the movies.
A facet of film-making which the Punjabi makers are generally obsessed with is incorporating unnecessary songs in a movie. Since Qismat comprises of six songs, it was vital to ask Sidhu about the purpose which these songs would be serving in his movie. “Ya. The film has six songs. Because there is a club and a wedding sequence in the movie, there’s one club and wedding song respectively. The other four songs are the screenplay of the film. The film won’t stop for those songs. It’s not like you will see the lead actors singing the song on a mountain top. You will get to see the film moving in these songs”, he added.
Qismat will mark Sargun Mehta’s return on-screen after more than 16 months. For an actress who has won two consecutive Filmfare awards for Best Actress in the last two years, it is a substantial break. On being asked about what made him cast Mehta in the movie, Sidhu answered, “Citing the character [that I’d written] in mind, I either wanted to work with an established actress in Sargun or wanted to work with a fresh face. Among the current actresses, I found Sargun the fittest for this character. I narrated the script to her and she agreed immediately.”
“There are some characters which suit a particular individual just as Bani [name in the movie] suited Sargun. I believe that she was an apt choice”, he further added.
For someone whose first directorial film is yet to release, Sidhu has a couple of more projects (big ones, at that) lined-up. One of which is ‘Shadaa‘, which stars Diljit Dosanjh and Neeru Bajwa. On being asked about this rare case for a director, Sidhu was quoted, “As I said, I had never thought of direction. Genuinely speaking, it is a great opportunity that I will be working with Diljit bhaji, he’s a superstar. I must confess that God has been very kind.”
Anurag Singh is one of the producers of Shadaa. Sharing an interesting anecdote of his past, Sidhu said, “I used to ask people if someone could fix me a meeting with Anurag bhaji. There’s a park behind my residence in Mumbai where Anurag bhaji used to jog in the morning. I used to think of narrating him a story over there but then I was always doubtful about this plan. And today, he is producing a movie for me. I had never thought of all this, it’s good that it is happening.”
Sidhu also admitted that all these responsibilities have put him under a lot of work-related pressure. “You definitely feel the pressure. I was just thinking that it is too much. Shadaa’s shoot will commence in 10 days. At the moment, I am doing Qismat’s post-production and Shadaa’s pre-production at the same time. It is difficult to manage. I had thought of completing a couple of stories after the release of Qismat. But that plan has gone for a toss now”, he said.
On being asked about an advice which he would give to a rookie writer, Sidhu answered, “I receive a lot of calls and messages which say that they [caller or sender] want to narrate a story to me. But all they have is half-baked stories. It is just a thought. I believe that the best way of learning writing is by doing it.
“Even if you aren’t getting an opportunity [to give a narration], at least complete your script. If you’ve completed one, complete the second one as well and so on. It is like a writer’s bank balance. It will never be wasted. With every script, you will grow as well and when time will come, believe me all those scripts will be made into movies.”
Before signing off, Sidhu was asked the reason as to why people should visit the cinema halls to watch Qismat. “The first thing is that people always complain regarding film-makers repeating the same thing in our industry. So, here is a movie which is different, something which has never been done in the Punjabi industry”, he said.
“Secondly, you won’t find this movie any less than the contemporary Bollywood movies. Be it the making, music or the overall quality of the movie, it is very rich. Since this is a love story, I believe that the audiences will be reminded of their own love stories after watching the movie”, he said in an amusing manner.
With the movie set to release on September 21, here is wishing the whole team of Qismat lots of luck!