Narinderpal Singh Chandok has given the tried and tested comedy genre a miss to showcase the sombre side of Punjab with his debut Punjabi movie Jaspal : The Tribune India

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Narinderpal Singh Chandok has given the tried and tested comedy genre a miss to showcase the sombre side of Punjab with his debut Punjabi movie Jaspal

Narinderpal Singh Chandok has given the tried and tested comedy genre a miss to showcase the sombre side of Punjab with his debut Punjabi movie Jaspal


Sheetal

French-Indian documentary director, Narinderpal Singh Chandok embraces his Punjabi roots with his feature film debut, Jaspal. The film was recently screened at the Art Gallery, Alliance Francaise (AF), Chandigarh. In talks with the regional OTT platform Chaupal to release it for the Punjabi audiences, his film will also be showcased at AF centres of Kolkata and Lucknow.

I am deeply connected to my mother tongue, Punjabi, and also exposed to world cinema while residing in France.


Chandok’s notable documentaries

  • El Seed, Behind the Calligraphy (2020)
  • Penjab, India (2019)
  • Wudang, China (2018)
  • Christmas Time in Pakistan (2014)
  • Irezumi, The Japanese Art Of Tattoo (2013)

Born in Delhi in 1971, Chandok moved to France during the 80s with his family. He has directed as many as 35 documentaries during the past 18 years. Each of them was broadcast on several TV channels like France 5, Ushuaïa TV, Discovery Channel Asia and TV5 Monde.

Ask him if working in a feature film was different and Chandok calls it a lot more challenging than documentary filmmaking. “When you approach a subject from a documentary angle, the idea is to showcase the truth and you simply have to start shooting. But a feature film is another world altogether, as you have to work along with many people, including the writers, producers and technical staff. To manage all that is challenging.”

Long journey

Chandok took five years to complete Jaspal and when he posted the trailer on YouTube, he got both positive and negative feedback. He explains, “There would always be people who would not understand where you are coming from and what the story wants to convey, but that wouldn’t stop me from doing what I want. I wouldn’t like to believe that shooting in Punjab, India, staying away from my family and working this hard on a project isn’t worth it. Change is always repelled, but this sure is different from regular cinema that Punjabi audiences usually watch in theatres.”

It’s always tough to choose a person’s name for a film’s title, as Chandok did for his debut feature project. “I wanted a name which could be pronounced the same way in major languages, be it Punjabi, French, English, Spanish or any other. And Jaspal comes across as one such name.”

Going global

Chandok is driven by the dream to see a Punjabi film breaking fresh ground in the international market. “At the global level, many perceive us as pendu and do not know about our culture and how deeply we are attached to it, even if we have migrated to different countries. I am fed up with Korean and other language films doing great internationally. If we have a great Punjabi story, we shouldn’t be waiting for Bollywood to make it in Hindi, but rather choose our own language to tell it.”

Shooting in Punjab was also a different ball-game for Chandok. “I like to start on time and finish on time, which came as a surprise for the local staff. It took me time to break the barrier between the director and staff; I like to treat everybody equally,” he says. 


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