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Interview By: ANKITA R. KANABAR

A top-notch star of Punjabi cinema, and a newcomer in Hindi films. Yet, DiljitDosanjh enjoys his own niche and popularity. His latest comedy, ‘Arjun Patiala’ has him paired opposite KritiSanon and the audience has been loving this unique casting. We catch up with the singer-turned-actor talking about his latest release and more…

What do you feel about the love you’re getting here?
I am feeling great about the love I’m getting here. Not sure, if I do deserve that kind of love.

Do you think, the character in ‘Arjun Patiala’ was tailor-made for you?Or rather, you just fit in perfectly…
No, infact, I’m a very reserved, shy person. But this character is very loud. I enjoyed it. I just had to take care that it looks different and not anything like I’ve done before. I had never done an out-and-out comedy with no message before this, so I thought let me do it because I was getting offered serious films in Hindi cinema that time.

Was there a good comfort level, since you’ve already worked with RohitJugraj in Punjabi cinema?
When I said yes to Dinesh Vijan, Rohit was not on board. I asked him what’s the concept of the film and Dinesh ji said, there’s no concept. We just have to make people laugh with this film. I said, that’s great because I had never done such a film in Hindi cinema. Then when, he suggested Rohit’s name, I thought it’s great since I’d already done films with him. Despite not being a Punjabi, he has made Punjabi films. It’s his favour on us. So, I was damn happy to have him on board.

We’ve heard you completely are a different person in front of the camera…
That’s how I’ve always been, undoubtedly. My work starts when the camera is on. I’m at my job. The way, a doctor’s job starts when he is in his clinic.

Do you still believe; you have a long way to go here? Considering your potential and talent that’s tapped in Punjabi cinema.
In Punjabi cinema, I have a say on everything. When do we need to post something on Instagram or Facebook – it’s on me. I have the power to decide, which song to shoot first, the budget that we should use on production or promotions, or television, the number of screens and everything. But here, nothing is in my hand. The scale is bigger. So, I’m just choosing from what I get.

Do you think there’s now a change in Hindi cinema towards heroes like you? For example, a sardar being chosen to play a sardar in the film, instead of another mainstream actor?
Not much, but hopefully, if I’m successful enough and I bring in those numbers, there will be a change further. I never thought I could make it really. I didn’t really fit in. There were no turban heroes in Punjabi cinema too, when I started out. People told me not to get into acting. I was told to just stick to singing. But slowly, things changed in Punjab, we got numbers and good business. I also used to feel I might not be liked by people, but I’m happy things changed. Now even those actors who weren’t donning turbans, do that in their films now.

How does it feel like starting afresh here, when you’re already a star in Punjabi cinema?
It feels good. I’ve met some very nice people, who’ve given me a lot of love here. I’ve never had any bad experience. Other than that, Punjabis have this nature of adapting to people, the way they meet them. But I don’t have a control on anything here. For example, I felt that the trailer of ‘Arjun Patiala’ could have been funnier, but I don’t really have a say here. I don’t know much about it so I better do not say much. Here, there are people who have the know-how and insights about this industry. Dinesh sir knew what he was doing, he has that understanding of cinema here. So, when it comes to Hindi cinema, people here obviously know better.

Your last Punjabi release, ‘Shadda’ has broken all numbers. How did that feel?
I didn’t expect it to do those numbers initially when we made it. When I saw the film, we had conflicts about it. The film reached a duration of two hours, fifteen minutes but we thought it should be about two hours, five minutes. We wanted to make it crisp. It took a month to cut ten minutes of the film. It was difficult, but we managed somehow. Eventually, when I saw the final version, I thought we’ve made a good film, but didn’t know it would bring in such numbers. I was in Toronto, when my producer called that on Wednesday, the advanced bookings was the biggest in Punjabi cinema so far. Then on Thursday, we were sure that we will get big numbers. So, I expected a number which would create history. I am overwhelmed.

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