Spell of cinema is not disclosed to anyone. It‘s charm has always altered our lives in some way or the other. The ability of cinema’s big screen to change the mindsets of people makes it a tool of limitless power. Its capricious fan following making it tool for shaping the society. A feature film can cheer a low mind, relish a disheartened heart, force a brain to work and even ignite the sleeping conscience. In nutshell, it is a mirror of the society we live in.
Cinema has completed its 100 years on national screen. During these glorious years cinema has reached the zeniths and expectations of audience. Also it has encouraged the regional cinemas to foster and push more masses towards cinema. Punjabi cinema is one of the cinematic ventures which date backs to 1936.
The Punjabi cinema was born in undivided India with K.D. Mehra’s Pind di kudi aka Sheila. Then Heer Sial came in 1938 by the same filmmaker. After partition, unfortunately Lollywood faced a setback taking a long while to recreate a Punjabi cinema in 1950’s with numerous movie produced during those years. These movies often went un-noticed until in 1964 when a big budget Satluj de kande was released. From then on, Punjabi cinema has come a long way, incorporating developments in every aspect while creating a flick. Some cinematic marvels still tickle my mind whenever I sit up and watch them. Some were of course dealing with the commonly known as Jatt Budhi, atrocities of Zamindaars, the widow mother and her revenge and of course the drug addicts and their love issues. The Punjabi cinema was often paralled with Punjabi music industry, with latter gaining popularity swifter than the former. This at a point of time resulted in music industry masking the film industry.
Surinder Shinda, Gurdas Maan, Amar Noori began with cameos and later entered into mainstream leads. The trend gradually was followed when filmmakers thought that even when the storyline would be poor, the music of movie would help them gather bucks they spend while making movie. At first, this move proved beneficial with Jee Aayan Nu, Asa Nu Maan Watna Da breaking all records and making a sharp turn in Pollywood. This trend is followed blindly since then.
This trend had its pros and cons as it also had to compete with contemporary cinema which initially was dealing with financial crisis. But with good luck this move worked with tremendous advancement in Punjabi cinema since then. Punjab had now witnessed movies that threw light on issues like illegal migration, unemployment, morals and of course the pain of partition. Some movies on freedom fighter did well at box office. During the same time some Punjab based Bollywood actors did their part in Pollywood helping it to revive to a lot of extent. With Harbhajan Maan’s series of feature movies and Gurdas Maan’s heart touching Des Hoya Pardes making it big onscreen the Punjabi cinema was finally revived with big budgets banners now venturing into cinema. Several other issues like student politics, pain of 84 and post terrorism and the likes were now beautifully depicted. Versatile theatre personality had now been incorporated into cinema making an even more bold statement. But above all, comedy in Punjabi cinema has remained intact with its evolution.
No doubt that comedy films were made before, the real credit goes to Shri Late Jaspal bhatti Ji’s venture into Punjabi cinema with meaningful comedy that would change the viewpoint of the audience while laughing their ways out of the cinema halls.
Versatile actor and comedian Jaswinder Bhalla ji joined him in his each and every satirical venture supported with evergreen comedians like B.N. Sharma, Savita Bhatti, Gurpreet Ghuggi and the likes. Introduction of comedy into Punjabi cinema was fruitful when it meant in a clean and satirical manner, but things turned bad, when comedy was taken too much into the storyboard with romance and other issues taking a back seat. Comedy, that used to be an accessory to main storyline, had now become an integral part without which the filmmakers believed the movie won’t work. This thing bundled with already thumping Punjabi music gave us movies that may or may not make sense, but for sure could make people laugh , in turn filling pockets of producers who were now fully determined to make movies on same genre for whatsoever reasons.
This thing went well with few or more hits. Now we have actors like Gippy Grewal, Diljit Dosanjh and others who are big names in Punjabi music industry. The trend now is simple and clear. “Record a song put it on YouTube, if it’s a hit, congrats! You are singer, now you can officially act otherwise keep trying on your music career”. Nowadays this trend is on its height. It has become out of control making it difficult to digest for a cinematic appetite. The Punjabi cinema has now turned into what can be called as Funjabi cinema.
The meaningful cinema is now lifeless. It is either resting or is helpless at hands of filmmakers who in turn make whatever can be sold. Cheap comedy and unnecessary vulgarity has even made the situation worse. A person feels betrayed when he walks out of the hall seeing same old characters repeated again and again in every movie. Theatre actors who once did mind blowing serious and meaningful roles have now turned into objects of mockery pushing or say, pulling the movie so that it can make it well.
Still some movies like Saada Haq, Sikander and Anhe ghodde da daan are struggling to bring the cinema back on tracks which otherwise seems like two hours Pakistani stage drama. But all they need is a good story-line, budget and above all audience. There are numerous issues in Punjab that are yet to be discussed and depicted.
It’s high time we shift our focus from laughs and try to depict issues that have cried for years.
It is a humble request to all filmmakers from a disheartened fan.