Our industry started to grow about seven years ago, and in the last two to three years, we have taken massive strides. Manmohan Singhji changed the way the industry functioned and that’s one reason we have been able to expand. Earlier, we made only typical formula films but now we have a range of genres, from comedy to drama. Earlier, Punjabi films were not appreciated even in Punjab. The audience expected a lot from our films, which we failed to deliver.
But now, with budgets increasing, impressive scripts and technical advancements, we are able to reach not only our people but a wider audience. Hindi filmmakers have always used our culture to enrich their films, from the songs to North Indian backdrops. There are people of Punjabi origin in the Hindi film industry who support our culture but they should also support Punjabi cinema. Punjabi cinema has a long way to go but we are on the road to success.
I am just two films old in the Punjabi film industry. I have worked in Hindi cinema as well. But I found that the main difference between the two industries is the language. Punjabi cinema is also more youth-centric and the audience is showing keen interest in Punjabi films. Even the audience in Mumbai are appreciating our films.
My debut Punjabi film, Dharti, was released in some screens across Mumbai, which suggests that the audience for our cinema is widening. Eros produced Taur Mittran Di and they were very happy with the box-office returns. The Punjabi film industry has a huge international market, and people abroad connect with our films and music. Five years from now, our industry will only grow and how! Punjabi culture and music is an integral part of Hindi films and always will be.
My father was a part of the Punjabi film industry, and back then, production values and the reach of Punjabi cinema was very low. But now, Punjabi films are more youth-centric and appeal to the college-going crowd.Tamil, Telugu and other regional cinema is way ahead of us in terms of production values and technology, and we are a growing industry. Our main audience is the North Indian belt. Distribution of our films has also increased in recent years.
Punjabi films are now also releasing in Mumbai, the hub of the Hindi film industry. We are competing directly with Hindi films, and luckily Hindi films have always supported Punjab and its culture. Also, the international market for Punjabi films, which used to be restricted to just Canada and the UK, has grown to Australia, Dubai and other regions. Among corporate houses, Eros has been constantly producing Punjabi films. We need as much support as possible from corporate houses but individual producers are also doing a great job.