Her last Punjabi release Sardaar Ji not only racked up impressive box-office numbers but was also loved by the audience. Neeru Bajwa is now back with her next Punjabi release Channo Kamli Yaar Di, which is also her maiden venture as a producer under her banner Fresh Air Movies. Bajwa spoke to Rohini Nag about her new film and her journey so far:
What has your journey of 12 years been like in the Punjabi film industry?
It’s been an amazing journey, from being an actor to now turning producer. I have learnt a lot about myself and also about other people. I am very proud of the Punjabi film industry and how we have grown over the years. All the love that I have received is humbling.
You are one of the top commercial actresses in the Punjabi industry. What makes you sign a project?
I go with my gut feeling. While taking up a project, I think from the audience’s point of view. I always take into consideration whether they would enjoy or not enjoy a film that I am offered.
The Punjabi industry has gone through a lot of change and is still evolving. What is it like for an actress today?
I believe it has a long way to go in terms of actresses. I am fortunate to get meaty roles and now roles are written especially for me. I hope to see better roles and opportunities for actresses in the Punjabi industry. It is way too male-dominated but things are gradually changing.
Several mainstream Bollywood actresses have forayed into the Punjabi industry but ended up becoming one-film wonders. You have been a much sought-after actress for a very long time.
In my opinion, Bollywood actresses come to Punjabi films when they feel they don’t have much work in the Hindi film industry. I don’t think Punjabi films should be a second option because it is a huge market in its own right, especially overseas. Other than that, the audience is what keeps me going, they accept me and their love for me grows with each film that I do.
Lately, the Punjabi film industry has been churning out a lot of content-rich films, winning National Awards and also going to international festivals. Do you think this change is here to stay?
I believe the audience is mature and intelligent and wants content-rich films, not just the usual stuff. Yes, I think the trend is here to stay. With the way our industry is evolving, we will see much better content and much better films.
Your film Channo Kamli Yaar Di is all set to release next month. Why did you decide to produce the film?
I always wanted to produce a film. My business manager Santosh Thite and I are very passionate about films, and are always creatively involved in films that we do. So when this came along, my husband Harry heard the idea and told me about it. As soon as I heard the script, my first instinct was ‘Let’s do it!’ So here we are.
Tell us about the story of the film and your character.
It is about the journey of two people from rural Punjab, looking for love. My character Channo is seven months pregnant and looking for her husband. The contrast of these two characters in Canada and their innocence is beautiful.
As a producer, what role did you play in the pre-production and post-production stages?
I was involved in everything. Even after pack-up, I was the last one to leave. I was seven-and-a-half months pregnant when I started filming and eight-and-a-half months pregnant when I finished, I haven’t talked about this yet, so here I am!
What are your expectations from the box office and how wide is the film’s release?
We are releasing worldwide and our expectations are high as this is a very important film for us. We have made it with love and honesty and a lot of hard work. We only hope that the audience accepts it with as much love as we have made it with.
Will we see you turn director as well?
Anything is possible. I cannot predict what the future holds but I will not dismiss the possibility that I might turn director too some day.
What’s next for your banner Fresh Air Movies?
We never plan, really. Our decisions are very spontaneous. But it will definitely be one crazy ride!