With the first half of the year coming to a culmination, it is the most apt time to write a half-yearly report of the Punjabi film industry in 2018. With numerous movies already been announced along with their release dates, there was a sense of exhilaration at the start of the year. In this article, we will be throwing light on whether the might which those intriguing projects possessed on paper was converted into success on the silver screen and box-office or not.
The first five weeks of the year saw the release of Balbir Begumpuri’s ‘Delhi to Lahore’, Taj’s ‘Punjab Singh’, Shivtar Shiv’s ‘Saggi Phull’ and Shivamm Sharma’s ‘Bhagat Singh Di Udeek’. The year 2018 did not start on a positive note for the first four films ended up doing disastrously both commercially and critically. It was only in the sixth week that the Punjabi industry received its first hit of the year in Smeep Kang’s ‘Laavaan Phere’. A true-blue comedy movie, Laavaan Phere marked the successful debut of Karamjit Anmol as a producer in the Punjabi film industry.
Three weeks later, Amberdeep Singh’s ‘Laung Laachi‘ put on show a replica of what Laavaan Phere had done. Both were decent-budgeted comedy movies which did unexceptionally well at the box-office, giving more strength to the notion that comedy movies somehow find a path to thrive in our industry. Another movie of the same category and similar results was Ksshitij Chaudhary’s ‘Golak Bugni Bank Te Batua’. A lampoon of demonetisation, the movie went on to complete 50 days in the cinemas, something which is a rarity these days.
Our industry witnessed an elephantine battle being fought between the release of Laung Laachi and Golak Bugni Bank Te Batua. It was between two big-budgeted war-time period movies, starring two of the biggest names in our industry in Diljit Dosanjh and Gippy Grewal. It had to be a co-incidence that Pankaj Batra’s ‘Sajjan Singh Rangroot‘ and Simerjit Singh’s ‘Subedar Joginder Singh’ were scheduled to release within a gap of two weeks. Writing straight from the shoulder, it is high time that we accept that both the movies didn’t stand tall on our hefty expectations in one way or the other.
An additional reason why Golak Bugni Bank Te Batua did so well at the box-office was the movies which will released in the following weeks. Rohit Jugraj’s ‘Khido Khundi’, a first-of-its-kind movie based on Hockey in our industry, went terribly wrong when it came to executing the logic of the sport. As idiosyncratic as its trailer, the movie failed at the box-office as well. ‘Bhai Taru Singh’, which released in the last week of April, also failed to make a mark critically or commercially. The movie was a sign of disdain as far as animated movies are concerned. The low-budgeted animation of the movie paved way for it to be a setback on the silver screen.
The month of May saw an aberrant behaviour, not on the part of any actor or director but on the part of the audiences. Two worth-watching movies in Tarnvir Singh Jagpal’s ‘Daana Paani‘ and Vijay Kumar Arora’s ‘Harjeeta‘ didn’t do as well as their calibre. Both the movies were worthy of sky-high collections but somehow managed to not pull the audiences to the cinema halls which also speaks highly of the nature of our viewers and raises questions on their ability to accept other genres than comedy.
The first day of the following month saw the release of a record-breaking blockbuster in Smeep Kang’s ‘Carry On Jatta 2’. The side-splitting movie created new benchmarks in our industry. The domineering way in which the movie shattered financial records speaks enough about the craze which it had created in the minds of the audiences. The movie went on to become the highest earning Punjabi film in India and overall. In Carry On Jatta 2, another laurel has been added in the kitty of White Hill Studios, who have a majority of movies in the Top 10 highest-earning Punjabi movies of all time.
Overall, the first six months have pretty much seen everything in the Punjabi film industry. Cinematic catastrophes to blockbusters, films not expected of doing well at the box-office doing well to films expected of doing well at the box-office not doing well, the Punjabi industry has been there and done that in its journey from January to June this year.
The reason why the second half of this year is interesting is because the much-talked about films of this year have already been released. The second half falls in the second string category but might well (hopefully should) result in several convincing and affluent movies. Stay tuned for our piece on the most awaited movies of the second half of 2018.