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Multi-talented Diljit Dosanjh enjoys a remarkable career in Punjabi as well as Hindi cinema. As a Punjabi singer, he has several albums and singles to his credit and has travelled across the world for his music tours. And as an actor, he has starred in some of the most loved Punjabi and Hindi films over the last few years.

On screen, he most recently starred in Punjabi film Shadaa which has smashed several records at the box-office. And now, the turbaned star of Indian cinema is getting good response for his latest Bollywood outing Arjun Patiala which entered theatres yesterday.

In an interview with Eastern Eye, Diljit Dosanjh talks about reprising a cop in Arjun Patiala, his favourite cop films, his acting career in Bollywood, and why he feels that he does not deserve all the appreciation and adulation coming his way as an actor. The singer-actor also reveals his plans about turning producer.

 

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Arjun Patiala is being promoted as 245th cop film of Bollywood.

I do not know whether or not it is 245th cop film. The makers would know whether it is true or not. I have not counted all the cop films that Bollywood has produced so far. So, I have no idea about it.

Tell us something more about the film.

It is an out-and-out comedy film. There is nothing very serious about it. When the makers offered me the film, I asked them which issue it dealt with. They said, “None”. The film has been written by well-known screenwriter Ritesh Shah. He has written several issue-based films in the past. He told me that Arjun Patiala is an out-out-out comedy film. It deals with no issue.

Which has been your most favourite cop film?

I remember watching Zanjeer (1973). So, yeah, that is my most favourite cop film.

What drew you to the film?

I found the entire team very honest and genuine, so I decided to do the film.

 

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Your latest Punjabi film Shadaa (2019) has taken the box-office by storm. Had you ever thought it to be such a huge hit?

If the truth is to be told, no, I had not expected it to be such a big hit. Having said that, when I saw the film for the very first time, I knew that the audience would love it. That’s all that I had expected from the film. When it comes to business and all, I have no idea about that. I have not produced a single film yet, so I have no idea about the business aspect of it.

Do you want to turn producer in future?

(Smiles). Yes, I am planning to produce a Punjabi film. I have seen the producers making a lot of money, so I thought I should also produce a film.

You have done a superhero film in Punjabi. Do you wish to explore the genre in Hindi cinema also?

In the Punjabi film industry, you can make whatever you want to make, just like what we did with Super Singh (2017). We did not have much money to produce the film, but we still wanted to make a film about a superhero. So we took the risk. In Bollywood, I do not have many friends or producers whom I know well. In Punjabi cinema, almost every producer is my friend. If I ask someone, “Bro, let us make this film.” They will be like, “Okay, let us begin.” Here in Bollywood, the scene is totally different.

There is a long list of Punjabis who have played an important role in the growth of Hindi cinema. But why is it that Punjabi cinema has taken so much time in establishing itself?

It was not before 2011-2012 when Punjabi films started registering some kind of business. Before that, Punjabi movies were made few and far between. They were not made in routine. Mumbai has always been the hub for films. You rightly said that many Punjabis have contributed a lot in the success story of Bollywood. Maybe the reason is that Hindi is a language which is spoken in various parts of the country. Resultantly, Hindi films yield more business than any other film producing industry in the country. So, people always rush to the industry which is viable and makes more money.

 

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What was on your mind when you made a crossover to Bollywood from the Punjabi film industry?

I had only one thought on my mind that, no matter what, I would never play second fiddle to any actor. I would never play an actor’s friend, brother, etc. I never wanted to play such characters in Hindi films. I was doing pretty well in Punjab when I moved to Bollywood. I am still doing well in the Punjabi film industry. So, I never wanted to do friend and brother’s roles in Bollywood. That was the only thing I had on my mind when I entered the Hindi film industry. Besides that, I wanted them (Hindi filmmakers) to like me the way I was. I never wanted to compromise with my image for anyone.

After Udta Punjab (2016), you again play a cop in Arjun Patiala? Which cop character was more challenging?

Udta Punjab was a tough film, while Arjun Patiala is an easy film.

We all have grown up watching Mehmood and Kader Khan’s comedy films. How, according to you, comedy has changed over the years?

They all were extraordinary artists. Be it Mehmood or Kader Khan, they were actors par excellence. They did so many great films in their careers. No one can be like them. Today, not just comedy, but everything has changed – from our lifestyle to food that we consume. Mobile phones have become so common. They keep eating our brain throughout the day. The passion with which yesteryear people used to work is missing today. It is not just in the film-line, but everywhere else also. Today, we buy ready-made clothes. Earlier, our mothers used to knit sweaters and other warm clothes for us. It had her emotions attached to it. It was like her blessings for her kids. Those days are gone now. Materialism has taken over everything.

Who is your favourite comedian?

My all-time favourite comedians are Mehmood ji and Govinda.

 

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You just mentioned that you are planning to produce a Punjabi film. What kind of films do you want to produce?

I want to produce any kind of film that makes money at the box-office, otherwise, why would I turn producer (laughs)?

Would you like to produce films in Bollywood also?

No, I do not have that kind of funds. You need a lot of money to produce a Bollywood film. A lot of it.

How do you look at your journey in Bollywood?

I am happy. I feel I am not worth even this. I got an opportunity to do a film like Udta Punjab, which was followed up by another brilliant film like Phillauri (2017), where I played a completely different character. Last year, I got to do Soorma (2018), which was a biopic. People really liked the film and it even got critical acclaim. I do not think that I am worth the appreciation and everything else that I have received in my life. It is all because of His blessings!

Why do you feel so? You are supremely talented.  

Talent – I do not know whether I have it or not. I am basically a singer and can play tabla and harmonium. I have learnt how to sing and play these instruments. So, when people appreciate me for my singing abilities, I can understand why they are appreciating me. When a song becomes a hit, I know I have achieved something. However, when a film does well and becomes a success, I cannot take credit for it simply because I have never learnt that craft. I have never learnt how to act. That is why I feel that whatever movies I am getting to work on, it is all because of Him. I am forever grateful to God for it.

Arjun Patiala is running successfully in cinemas near you.