Yes, I do come with experience but one should know theoretically how to go about certain things, and I don’t. They were shocked when I said I wouldn’t participate in the workshop. I was, like, tell me what you want to tell me, give me as much information as you want to, fill me up with everything that you have, I can even do the reading with you… but I can’t show you in a room how I am going to walk on the sets, I can’t show you how I will say my lines on the sets. Take me on the sets, give me my costumes, switch on the camera and I will do it.
I can’t perform unless I feel the character and his emotions. You say something that touches me right now and I will cry instantly. But if you tell me, ‘You have 3 minutes, cry now…’ I won’t be able to do that. There are brilliant actors who can cry instantly, who can laugh instantly… that is called ‘acting’. But I simply feel my character and then perform.
Coming from Punjab, what was your perception of Bollywood before you started working here?
I used to feel that Mumbai would have goons roaming freely on the streets, dons who can shoot anyone anytime, anywhere… this was my perception of Mumbai all because of Bollywood movies. But when I came to Mumbai in 2005, I realised it was like any other city. And then I realised that all Punjabi films basically start from here. Most directors are from here, DOPs are from here, music directors are from here, technicians… and when your dubbing happens, that too happens over here. So, there is basically no major difference between the Punjabi film industry and Bollywood, the only difference is the language.
Are you planning to focus more on Bollywood movies now?
If I get good scripts, some really good films, then I will do more films here. If not, them I have my Punjabi films and Punjabi music, and I am content with that. I need to really like the story before I pick up any project.
What kind of stories appeal to you?
Anything that I would like to see in the cinemas. But I don’t know how many people would like to see my kind of stories on-screen. Still, the only deciding factor for me is that I should like the story. And I decide 5-10 minutes into the narration, whether or not I am going to do the film. That doesn’t mean I don’t sit through the narration, I sit and listen to the whole narration but I know it in those initial moments whether or not I like the film. If I am excited about the script, I want to hear more and more and if I am not, I wait till the end to tell them that I am not in that particular zone.
When I started listening to the story, I felt, ‘Theek hai.’ I was still contemplating whether or not to do it but as soon as the story reached the climax, I cried. It was so touching. And, in that moment, I decided that regardless of how much money they are going to offer, I have to do this film.
Money, clearly, is not your primary concern while signing a film. But, apart from the story, what other factors do you consider before signing a film?
Yes, money is never a concern. I make decent money with my singing, I do shows and all… The story should be good and I should connect with it and my character. I also consider the production house and director before signing a film. I don’t even ask who my co-actors are; the producers will cast them according to the character requirements. My only concern is the script, production house and director.
Besides, Phillauri, what else have you been working on? What’s next?
I am working on a Punjabi film. The film will release in June, it is titled Super Singh. It is a Balaji film, Ekta Kapoor is producing it. Super Singh is the first superhero Punjabi film. When I started working in 2012, someone had made a sketch of Superman’s body and my face, and shared it on social media. At that time, people laughed and said ‘how can a Sardar be a superhero?’ I was, like, why are they laughing, why can’t a Sardar be a superhero? Since, then I have wanted to be part of a film where a Sardar is a superhero. And, since then, I have been on the lookout for a script like this.