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Posted at: Jul 19, 2015, 2:03 AM; last updated: Jul 19, 2015, 2:03 AM (IST)

The turbaned prince

SardaarJi is the first-ever Punjabi film to hit the 50-cr mark. We look at the phenomenon called Diljit Dosanjh who has become an international celebrity following the film’s success

Jasmine Singh

“I had to wait for a month before my producers gave their approval to SardaarJi's script. I am glad they invested their faith in this film,” says actor-singer Diljit Dosanjh, who finds SardaarJi hitting the 50-crore mark as a miraculous feat. The film has become the most successful commercial project of the Punjabi cinema till date. The film has beaten all records of the previous hit ventures like Jatt & Juliet, Punjab 1984 and Chaar Sahibzaade.

SardaarJi, directed by Rohit Jugraj and produced by White Hill Productions, stars Diljit Dosanjh, as a ghost hunter, Neeru Bajwa as the ghost and Mandy Takhar as the love interest in the film.

Cracking the code

With the success of SardaarJi, the secret code to a hit film seems to have been decoded. This film has, in a big way, dragged the nearly-stagnant Punjabi industry in to a new and happy phase. What emerges after the success of the film is a 'phenomenon', who is 'unabashedly' being hailed as the superstar of Punjabi cinema — Diljit Dosanjh!

Role on

The singer-actor has given a string of hits starting from Jatt & Juliet 1 and 2 and Punjab 1984, which won a National award. His songs are a rage on the national and international scene. With SardaarJi, he repeats the hat-trick. Film-goers have loved his character in the film. His perfect comic timing and on-screen appearance has won many a hearts.

Rohit Jugraj, the shy but maverick director of Jatt James Bond fame, says "I didn't have much time to work on the script. I had to immediately start shooting. But Diljit handled it hands-on. All I needed to do was to explain him the scene, say action and the man would light up every shot."

It is, however, the film’s title, which seems to have pulled Punjabis to the theatres. Jugraj doesn't deny it but says, "The title does justice to this romantic-fantasy film, it wasn't used just to pull the crowd or strike a chord at large. It suited Diljit's character."

The industry insiders, on the other hand, firmly believe that the title has wooed the audience in large numbers to the theaters, especially the Punjabi viewers. The insiders don't find the film extraordinary in any sense. A film director, who doesn't want to be named, calls SardaarJi an average film. "Diljit has repeated his Jatt & Juliet act, it is the same style of comedy, and the only difference lies in SardaarJi's storyline. The script in itself is pretty weak."

Critical appraisal

Diljit, who didn't expect the film to be this big a hit, takes this criticism in his stride. "I truly believe that if we put in sincere efforts in anything we do, it always gives good results," he says. On being called as an important element of the film's success, the actor laughs out aloud. "Really," he smiles shyly, "I never thought so, nor do I feel like that. People say I have become a global phenomenon or that from now onwards I will only be doing Bollywood films, but I still have a long way to go. I am not jumping onto the Bollywood bandwagon, but if I get roles which are meaningful, I would do them. I would never leave Punjabi cinema that has given me so much," he adds.

Formula to success

Diljit has been only known to give hits with director Anurag Singh of Jatt & Juliet and Punjab 1984 fame. The two share a good understanding on and off screen. However, this time, going outside his comfort zone and working with a different director, has only worked in Diljit's favour.

So the other element to the secret success code of a commercial hit seems to be a successful director, who has a good track record. In this case, it was Rohit Jugraj, who is otherwise known to work with serious, thought-provoking subjects. Director Amit Prasher of Ishq Brandy seconds this. "A film usually comes to the director not without 'expert' inputs from the producers and even actors. Very few directors get a chance to work on their own terms. And if we are allowed, we can repeat a SardaarJi every Friday."

Amit, however, also takes into account the big role played by a good script, screenplay and dialogue writer as also actors, especially the hero, in making a film a success. "A director doesn't have to work extra on an actor like Diljit. He does what he is told and gets under the skin of the character without much effort."

In cracking the winning formula, a 'generous' producer is another factor. Gunbir Sidhu, one of the producers of SardaarJi, spent nearly Rs 11 crore on the film. A fat share of the budget was kept for the visual effects and exotic locales (almost 3 crore). Gunbir was sure that with Diljit on board, SardaarJi was bound to be a sure-shot win.

Winner stands alone

While a director, script writer or producer surely stands to gain from the success of a film, the actor as in SardaarJi's case, Diljit Dosanjh, gains the maximum and not just in terms of money. For the actor-singer congratulations pour in from all corners of the world; accolades also come from the director of his upcoming film, Udta Punjab, Abhishek Choubey.

"I hadn't asked anyone to see my film, neither did I message anyone asking how they liked it," says the shy hero, who has won many hearts with his songs and shy smile, and who has become not only the sardar of SardaarJi but the crown prince of the Pollywood because of it.

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