Punjabi Cinema is in its strongest position till date as Punjabi Movies are making a mark and are being considered a threat to even Hindi movies. We have seen the rise of actors in Punjabi cinema and we have seen the rise of Directors, and yet most importantly we have seen the rise of Producers. But since this new beginning there has been a common link in all of the movies that made a mark: Dheeraj Rattan, whose name splashes as the screenplay and dialogue writer in the movies.
On a very serious note, if you were to remove his name from the contemporary Punjabi Cinema, you won’t be left with much. He has given the best stories we have ever seen in Punjabi Movies and now he is about to turn Director. His Directorial Debut Saadi Love Story is about to be released and I got the chance to catch up with him and have a brief chat. This chit-chat had been a long coming and here it is finally:
Me: Most of us want to know where have you miraculously appeared from in Punjabi industry. You have single handly taken Punjabi Cinema to a new level. How did it all happen?
Dheeraj Ratan: I had been doing writing for Hindi films with producers like Vikram Bhatt. At that time Manish (who had earlier done editing of Punjabi films) was editing the movie Phir and he wanted me to meet Jimmy Shergill for a Punjabi Movie, but I was reluctant to do Punjabi Films. But after sometime I finally met Navnait Singh and his then associate Mandeep, and later Jimmy sir through them. Before I knew, things fell into place as we were all like minded and the rest is history (literally).
Me: As an objective observer I can analyze your contribution but what do you think you have contributed to Punjabi Cinema?
Dheeraj Ratan: I think punjabi cinema had grown over the years but after a point it had become stagnant, I think I brought a different writing to the table, rooted yet modern stories and characters which every one could relate to in some way or the other.
Me: And hence the youth oriented films. Well a screenplay writer writes the story, the base, but at the end it’s the Director who manifests it. At times even tertiary and irrelevant people intrude in the vision of the screenplay writer. What I’m asking is: does a screenplay writer get his way in Punjabi Industry? Have you been getting your way?
Dheeraj Ratan: Yes, very much. I was lucky that my directors Navniat Singh, Mandeep and Anurag believed in my idea, they were ready to take risks, though they faced lots of problems as they had limited resources at their disposal but they didn’t compromise with the ideas. But in the end film making is a team effort and every body involved is entitled to make suggestions, the ideas which work are taken in but nothing for the sake of obliging helps any one.
Me: What I really want to know is do you have any qualms against your previous Films? Do you think you would have done things differently in the previous movies for which you wrote the scripts?
Dheeraj Ratan: Honestly at the time those films were made I thought I could do something differently, but when I crossed fences and stepped into director’s shoes myself, I came to realize that they did justice with my scripts and they did best what they could do at that time. It’s easier said than done with a growing industry and limited resources.
Me: You have hailed from Bollywood. Where do you rate Punjabi movies vs Hindi movies in contemporary times?
Dheeraj Ratan: This question can be answered in two aspects. If we talk of box office collections ever since I have come in Punjabi industry I have seen quality Punjabi films making more than many multi-starrer Bollywood movies. So, here Punjabi cinema scores. But when we talk of production values and budgets and bigger markets, Bollywood is ahead and it will take some time for Punjabi cinema to catch up.
Me: In the wake of your Directorial debut, who do you like more; Dheeraj Rattan, the screenplay writer or Dheeraj Rattan, the Director?
Dheeraj Ratan: Dheeraj Rattan the director as it was always my ambition. Writing along was a part of learning process. I hope that people also accept this new me and it all works out.
Me: That’s for the people to decide, So how do you want people in the industry to see you in future? As a Director or as a Screenplay Writer?
Dheeraj Ratan: Both. A writer/director. sounds good.. what say..?
Me: Saadi Love story… where does it rank in your own rankings?
Dheeraj Ratan: In writing I have never attempted anything like that. In directorial terms I have nothing to compare with as of now.
Me: Why should we watch Saadi love story?
Dheeraj Ratan: For entertainment… entertainment… entertainment…
Me: You wrote “Tu mera 22″ and it will be pitched against your own film. So what are your feelings towards that?
Dheeraj Ratan: I don’t see it against me. I think rather it’s in my favor. Audience will win with two good films to watch back to back and that is what we all try to do over and over. (516)