With the Punjabi film industry now progressing, the cinema lovers too are trying to associate themselves with it and encourage it in one way or the other. One such effort was undertaken by Phagwara based company, Punjabi Canvas, in the form of Punjabi Cinema Golden Honours organized with support of CT Institute. The platform was shared by the experienced generation, the one succeeding it and the one yet to flourish. The main highlight of the event was the screening of one Hindi and five Punjabi short films. Among the Punjabi films was Amardeep Gill’s short film Sutta Naag, based a story by Ram Saroop Ankhi. The screening of Sutta Naag turned out to be the most successful one. In the second session a discussion was held on the topic ‘Punjabi Cinema: its present condition and advancement’, while in the third session the persons, who are contributing towards the progress of Punjabi cinema were honoured. The artists entertained the audience with their performances as well. The Chairman of CT Institute, Charanjit Singh Channi and Manvir Singh Channi, MD, received full support of the students, even when the audience lacked in large numbers, yet their enthusiasm was encouraging.
The programme was delayed by about three hours from its scheduled time. Lack of publicity, organizational faults and absence of audience became the cause of this delay. Finally the program was started after arranging the hostel students of CT Institute amongst the audience. While conducting the stage, Dr. Satish Verma, Director of Youth Welfare Department at Punjabi University, Patiala, famous playwright, theatre artist, director and actor, said that it is a good sign that meaningful cinema is looking up in Punjabi film industry.
Yuvraj Hans and Harish Verma sharing a friendly moment on the stage during PCGH. Event was sponsored by Just Panjabi
The screening began with Vishwajot Maan’s Caterpillar with her being the only female Director amongst those whose film was screened. The film had as its backdrop the continuously increasing incidents of rape in the country and it was a portrayal of the psyche working behind a lustful mind. The film tried to re-establish the psychological fact that the lustful tendencies are deeply rooted in the mind itself, and the limbs are just a means. Inspite of having a strong subject, the film remained an average work or art because of its faulty technique, a discontinuity in presentation and the unnecessary repetition. Although after the screening, the director blamed the organizers for the faulty display, yet credit goes to her for making a film on such a bold subject.
Next film in line to be screened was Ojasvee Sharma’s Kamley, which presented the careless attitude of a modern student towards the society and his studies in a very entertaining way. It was loved by one and all in the audience.
Next in line was Sunil Kataria’s Honesty is the Best Policy, which was of less than one minute duration. There was an irony directed towards the honesty being practiced in modern times, but the irony was a very superficial one. What is more disappointing is that the male tendency of labeling the females as being hypocrites, cheaters and corrupt, is very apparent. The kind of act of lying that the girl is shown indulging in the film is nothing as compared to what is being done by the males. But the film maker earned a few minutes of fame by making a film just to satisfy male ego – a film that was made with the urban point of view. The film not only fills with doubt the minds of parents of girls hailing from rural areas, who go to study in urban areas; but also encourages to curb whatever little freedom that the girls have got after a long struggle. Finally the film proved to be a very shallow one. We can very well judge the mentality of such film makers. What pains more is that the film has been funded by Punjabi University in one of its projects.
The film was succeeded by the film Aab, made by an NRI, Mandeep Aujla. The lead roles were played by singers Jasbir Jassi and Amar Noori. The film depicts the importance of water as described in Gurbani and goes on to portray how the present bleak situation could take a very serious turn in times to come. Brilliant graphics and gripping presentation made the film very watchable. Another of the important ills of our society is the treatment meted out to the old people. This very subject was highlighted by Jarnail Singh in his documentary film Wrinkles of Life. Films made on their condition should be made and shown in every city and village.
The last but the most meaningful film was Amardeep Gill’s Sutta Naag, based on a short story by Ram Sarup Ankhi. Amardeep Gill, who has already fame as lyricist and an Art Activist, has made an entry into the world of film making with this short film. Out of all the films shown, Sutta Naag was an instance of meaningful cinema in the real sense of the term. Through this film Amardeep Gill not only brings before us the real face of the Punjabi public but also depicts the reality of Punjabi women and their real standing in the society. It tries to expose the poker faced society. Also without being didactic, he gives out a message to the women to recognize their existence and identity, and also rather than being dependant on the male psyche fight it out for themselves. The lead role played by Kul Sidhu, who has proved that without exposing the emotions of love and an earnest urge to possess can be portrayed successfully. The subtleness, with which she portrays the emotions of love and hatred, provides a very positive and progressive settings for the director do justice to the subject. The Malwa dialect, spontaneity in acting, brilliant usage of lighting and a good background score make a film worth it. We can easily say that where in Punjabi cinema it is difficult to bring meaningful and cinema together, from among the films above mentioned some can be labeled as meaningful and others just cinema but a combination of both could be seen in only Sutta Naag.
The second session was a discussion on the topic Punjabi Cinema: its condition and future. It was conducted by Dr. Satish Verma. Among those who were present in the panel were Satish Kaul, the veteran Punjabi actor, Munish Sharma, the director of film Pure Punjabi and Mere Yaar Kamine; Jaswinder Vicky J, who directed the movies You and Me, and Rabb ton Sohna Ishq; Actor Preet Bhullar; Munish Sahni, Punjabi film distributor; Sunil Kataria, upcoming artist and Parmeesh Verma, Dr. Satish Verma’s son. From amongst the audience RJ Harry, RJ Manpreet, actor Harpal, singer and actor Rai Jujhar, writer and film critic Amritbir Kaur, Editor of Punjabi Grooves website Vishal directed important questions about Punjabi cinema towards the panel.which lent more relevance to the discussion. While summarizing the views put forward by the panelists, Satish Kaul said that the weakest link in the film industry at present is the producer, who does not give freedom to the rest of the actors and technicians. As long as we don’t have producers with creative and progressive thinking, Punjabi cinema can’t progress on its path. Things took a humorous turn when RJ Harry and Manpreet Kaur from Radio Mantra posed a question about the lax attitude of the film producers while promoting a meaningful film but nobody from the panel could provide a suitable answer to that. When the RJs continued to harp upon the same question, Sunil Kataria reacted sharply to it. Seeing the situation, Satish Verma took the situation under his control and changed the direction of the heated discussion. Sunil Kataria remained absent from the panel for a long while after that. Much in the same vein, Parmeesh Verma too began to react without getting the import of the question put forward. He had to chew back his words when the question was repeated to clarify. During the whole discussion another amusing fact that came to light was that after having written and acted in two films each, Satish Verma confessed that he had realized that he had earned a much better place in the field of literature and that he would rather be a part of that field. This honest confession made by him rather made his personality even larger than life. In a question asked about the income generated from a few of the successful films and its fair distribution, the famous character artist, Harpal Singh said that a part of such income should be invested in making a meaningful film so that along with entertainment section we have films that can highlight the social issues as well and in that way Punjabi cinema can play a constructive role in society. The discussion ended on a hopeful note of having positive and progressive thinking producers, capable directors, writers and actors. A fact that was established was that until and unless we have producers, who fully understand the art of film making, an expert director, writers who can do justice to meaningful cinema and actors who feel socially responsible, all come together, till then the condition of Punjabi cinema won’t improve.
In the third and final segment of the programme, it was time to honour the celebrities. This section began with the presentation of a documentary film showcasing the history of Punjabi cinema. Life time achievemet award was conferred upon Satish Kaul. For Kapil Batra and Rajan Batra from Batra Showbiz the award was Star makers of Punjabi cinema; Magician of words for Amardeep Gill; Face of Punjabiyat for Jaspinder Cheema; Rangla Star of Punjab for Sarabjeet Cheema; Promising Character Artist for Jaspal Singh; Singing Sensation of Punjab, Amber Vashisht; for direction to Munish Sharma and Jaswinder Singh; Promising actor for Yuvraj Hans, Preet Bhullar, Balli Riar, Jimmy Sharma; Versatile Star for Harish Verma; Punjabi Cinema Promotion Honours for Munish Sahni. Along with them Jasmine Singh, Sunil Kataria, Paramjeet Faridkot, Sudhir Bhalla and Parmeesh Verma were also given special honours. Sarabjeet Cheema in his inimitable style displayed his skills on stage and the audience, which in the form of students was very less in number as far as the capacity of the hall was concerned, yet they enjoyed his performance. Yuvraj Hans, Harish Verma, Rai Jujhar, Amber Vashisht also presented a song each. The first trailor of Marriage da Garriage was shown, which is the debut movie of Navtej Hans, Yuvraj Hans’ elder brother and Hans Raj Hans’ elder son. A trailor of the film of comedy artist Surinderjeet Pateela was also shown. According to the list prepared by the organizers around thirty five persons were to be honoured.
Some of the artists, who had promised to come but did not turn up put the organizers in a tight spot, hence, they had to give away their prize in absence. On the one had there were the celebrated artists who ditched at the crucial moment while on the other hand there was one actor, who himself could not attend the programme but he made it a point to send his mother and brother to receive the award. This actor was Jimmy Sharma, who has been seen in movies like Gur Nalon Ishq Mithha and many other movies.
When we are mentioning Punjabi Cinema Golden Honours, we should definitely make a mention of the beginning that was made in the year 2007 by a society Sur Saanjh from Amritsar. That was a time when nobody had even thought of organizing such a function. Punjabi Cinema Golden Honours is a programme that has been held in keeping with the tradition of the one by Sur Saanjh. It is not at all a shocking fact that Ratish Gupta, the founder of Punjabi Canvas is a former member of Sur Saanjh and he had been associated with the same till last year. He has drawn the inspiration from there. Inspite of the minor organizational faults, he has proved his mettle in applying the lessons learnt from Sur Saanjh. In the very first programme conducted by Sur Saanjh many celebrities had come even from Mumbai and along with cinema, classic Punjabi films were also screened in an Art Gallery at Amritsar. In contrast to that the average beginning of Punjabi Cinema Golden Honours exhibits the kind of success it can hope to enjoy in future. While talking to the media persons during the programme, the founder of Punjabi Canvas, Ratish Gupta staked a claim that he has just taken a first step towards the direction of conducting a film festival of the calibre of Goa film festival. He said that he had not taken any aid from government or non-government enterprise but in future he would definitely realize his dream. Acting at the spur of the moment Satish Kaul promised to contribute 10% of his income to Punjabi Canvas, also to get a suitable time to telecast about this festival and also going to Mumbai and getting stars like Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan to endorse this festival in the coming years.
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