From gurudwara singer to superstar, meet the udta Sikh, Diljit Dosanjh
It's been a fantastic year for Dosanjh so far -all three of his releases Ambarsariya, Udta Punjab & Sardaarji 2 have been successful.
Whether he plays the endearing Sartaj in Udta Punjab or the heroic farmer in Sardarji 2, Diljit Dosanjh proves he can do anything, and make a success of it.
I've never really understood why filmmakers love to advertise their movies as `complete family entertainers' like it's a virtue. I don't think all four members of my family have ever made it to a theatre together just to spend some quality bonding time. But while waiting in queue for the Punjabi film Sardaarji 2 at a Mumbai multiplex, it all made sense to me.
Standing in the line parallel to mine was an enthusiastic teen Sardaar who asked to buy 10 tickets. "Sab ek saath," he emphasised.
Unfortunately, only eight seats were available. "Kya? Toh phir mere Kukku Mama ka kya hoga," he exclaimed in shock, hurt and anger -in that order. I turned to spot a forlorn Kukku Mama surrounded by a team of sardaars of all ages -the youngest being a toddler tugging at someone's pants. A quick scan of the multi-coloured turbans in the crowded room suddenly brought to my notice the fact that I was the only non Sardaar present. I started feeling pangs of guilt.
Had I usurped Kukku Mama's seat, I wondered? Will he smell my Bengali blood? What if I'm found out? Just then, the man behind the counter handed me a ticket and a warning -`Ma'am I hope you know there are no subtitles.' Watching films in languages I don't understand, and that too without any subtitles, is not how I usually spend my weekends. But this I had to see. Exactly a week ago, I was at the same theatre to watch Udta Punjab. Amongst the many things I marvelled at in that movie was the endearing one-star cop Sartaj played by Punjab's superstar Diljit Dosanjh. And so here I was at Sardaarji 2, a sequel to Dosanjh's 2015 hit film Sardaarji, to see what else the man could do.
The answer to that, I soon found out, is -everything.In the 2 hour 26 minute run time, I watched the actor play half the characters of the film himself, sing all the songs, and do the bhangra like there's no tomorrow. It's hard to explain what the film is about in a line or even two. There's so much going on in director Rohit Jugraj's film that it feels like watching three films at once. But here's the gist. Dosanjh plays Jaggi Khoowala, a simple organic farmer who's somewhat of a local celebrity. Early on, we see him being awarded with a medal on Doordarshan Jalandhar's Mera Pind Mere Khet for growing ginormous vegetables. He has names for them like Miss Radish. When danger befalls the farming community , the dutiful Jaggi steps up to save the day. In the very next scene, he's miraculously in Australia, working several jobs to bail out farmers back home.
But there's a problem. Jaggi has an aggressive alter-ego that keeps getting him into trouble. And this might well prove to be a spoiler, but before we are halfway through the film, there are multiple Diljits that keep popping up, ensuring his fans, of which there are plenty in Punjab, UK and Canada, get their money's worth. There are several other subplots as well, involving gangsters and a stolen bag of dollars. Actresses Sonam Bajwa and Monica Gill are in the mix too, but the `noble Sikh' as he is called, only longs for Roop and Preet, his buffaloes back home.
For the uninitiated, Dosanjh's stardom is unparalleled across Punjab. He's primarily a singer who has successfully collaborated with other popular Punjabi pop stars like Yo Yo Honey Singh and Badshah. In 2011, he debuted as an actor in The Lion of Punjab and then graduated to starring in comedies like Jatt and Juliet and Sardaarji that are considered instrumental in reviving the Punjabi film industry with their unprecedented box office collections. In an interview to Film Companion in April, Dosanjh described himself as a village pendu who is happy playing limited parts. "I can never play a rich businessman who makes an entry in a chopper," he said, reiterating that he's nothing more than an accidental actor.
And yet, the first-day collection of Sardaarji 2 proves otherwise. According to Forbes.com, the film amassed 14.25 cr in its first week on 350 screens, making it the highest-grossing Punjabi film of the year. It's been a fantastic year for Dosanjh so far -all three of his releases (Ambarsariya, Udta Punjab and Sardaarji 2) have been successful.
Next year, he stars opposite Anushka Sharma in her home production Phillauri.
I must confess that a lot of Sardaarji 2's punch lines that sent the family seated beside me into raptures were lost on me.But it didn't matter. In fact, the lesser I understood, the easier it was to enjoy Jaggi's antics without questioning its logic. And each time he throws a punch at someone who forgets to add a `ji' after Sardaar, you can almost hear the collective swelling of chests with pride. Just for that, I'd gladly endure a Sardaarji 3.
Also read: Collaboration with Gurdas Maan dream come true: Diljit Dosanjh