SAT Sri Akal ji, sorry, I made you wait,’ Amrinder Gill walks up to us at the Taj Chandigarh lobby, offering an apology along with a cup of tea. It’s his day off after a gruelling couple of weeks shooting for Priyanka Chopra’s maiden Punjabi production Sarvann, under Purple Pebble Pictures. Minus any starry entourage, Gill ambles in solo, dressed in a casual tee and jeans, relaxed and in mood for conversation.
He is cautious though, for he hesitates to reveal any details of Sarvann. “All I can share is that I play the character of Sarvann, which comes from Shravan, and it’s his journey, from negative to positive,” says Gill. Sarvann has been directed by Karaan Guliani and penned by Amberdeep Singh, and is a family drama set in contemporary time about a young boy, who unknowingly discovers his true identity. The film also stars Simi Chehail and will see the debut of Ranjit Bawa.
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A serious film that will see a December release hopefully, “It has its lighter moments too but you will see inspiration from real life in it,” says Gill, adding that he was sceptical at first when the Chopras contacted him. “I’ve had offers from Bollywood but I let them go because I had plenty of shows, and I didn’t want to repeat the mistakes of Punjabi cinema. But when this came, we decided to give it a shot for it is in Punjabi,” says Gill, who got his best buddy, writer Amberdeep on board. “We had been in the light zone for some time, and so, we thought why not experiment with something dark,” Amberdeep joins in. Conceiving and writing Sarvann was a risk and challenge for it took them 25-30 stories before they could lock on one and another seven months to draft it. “Sarvann’s a bigger challenge for me because I am nothing like the character. I am in fact closer to my character Angrej in Angrej,” adds Gill.
While Gill’s rustic, down-to-earth love story Angrej — set in 1945 Punjab — won hearts last year, the troubles between of a married life in Love Punjab struck a chord with many. His latest hit production Bambukaat championed the cause of the underdog. Gill says he prefers to stay humble and anonymous. With his base in Canada, he flies to Punjab only for work. Which brings us to Angrej 2, and Gill says it is on hold. They are, in the meantime, toying with the idea of a daily soap, and working on another album.
For Gill, the bottomline is to choose a subject with substance and message. “And a trendsetter,” he says, making sure his films are not repetitive, all characters get equal screen space and new talent is given a chance. For this very reason, Gill formed his own production house, Rhythm Boyz Entertainment, interestingly named after his bhangra team in college, when he started working on Angrej. “We make films with such passion but they fail to reach the audience because of poor marketing and distribution. So we decided why not turn producers and have the freedom to produce and market our own films.”
The box office, he adds, doesn’t matter to him. “It’s the process of making a film that does. There is no dearth of money in the industry, it needs sincerity right now,” says Gill, who started dreaming about becoming a singer while he was in school. “I would dream about Gurdas Mann telling me I could sing,” he says.
Gill says he is exactly where he wants to be. Born to working class parents in Boorchand, Tarn Taran, Gill was youngest and protected, and like a good son, finished his masters in agriculture sciences from Khalsa College, worked as a manager at Co-operative Bank before tuning into his musical career in 2000. From singing in college canteen to performing bhangra on Jalandhar Doordarshan for Punjabi artistes, it was music director Sukhpal Sukh who gave him the chance to sing on TV on New Year programme on 1999. What he thought was a one night dream, turned Gill into an overnight star, and soon saw him doing a film with Manmohan Singh, Munde Uk De.
“I’ve never been in hurry. In fact, I always feel I can do better, and want to keep my image and films as clean, simple and soulful as my songs,” he wraps up.