Actor Diljit Dosanjh talks about his upcoming film Arjun Patiala and the kind of changes he would like to bring in the portrayal of Sardar characters in Hindi films.
Q. Why did you choose to do Arjun Patiala?
When Dinesh (Vijan) had offered me Arjun Patiala, the first thing I asked him was what is the objective of the film. They said there is no objective. I didn’t understand why someone would make a movie without any specific purpose. They then said that the film is an out-and-out comedy and it makes fun of itself. They only wanted to make a movie that makes people laugh in cinema halls.
This is a good intention in itself, so I quickly agreed to do the movie. I had also not done a film like this in Bollywood. In fact, I have not done an out-and-out comedy film like this ever. I have done several romantic comedies, so I thought it would be a good break as I was only being offered very serious films in Bollywood.
Q. There were times when Sikh characters were caricaturish. But now roles are written with Sikh actors in mind. How do you look at this change?
I don’t think there has been a lot of change, but I also think if movies with Sikh characters do good business, things will be different for us.
Right now, I don’t even know how people will accept me in Arjun Patiala. There used to be times when I didn’t fit in any roles in Bollywood. But now things are changing.
Q. Why do you say that you didn’t fit in any roles in Bollywood?
Because there were no turban heroes. Initially, even Punjabi films didn’t have actors with turbans. Even when I had started acting, we didn’t have heroes wearing turbans. People had told me not to enter the film industry as ‘it was not my zone’. They said that I should stick to singing songs only because we had Sardar singers but we didn’t have Sardar actors.
Then slowly Sardar actors started doing films in Punjabi cinema and these movies did good business. That’s when people there realised that Sardar actors can also bring business and can be attractive. First, it was believed that people won’t find us attractive enough to come and see us in films. Even I had accepted that. But then things changed for us all.
I haven’t done too many Hindi films yet, but let’s see what happens in the future.
Q) What kind of change would you like to bring about in the portrayal of Sardar characters in Hindi films?
What change can I bring alone? But what I feel is that whatever film I am doing, I will make sure that a Sardar character is not made fun of. It is a different thing that Sardars love making merry and having fun, but that doesn’t mean people should make fun of us.
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