Punjabi actor Sonam Bajwa is now preparing for her big Bollywood debut. Sonam is known for her memorable performances in films like Punjab 1984 and Super Singh. She has also worked in Tamil and Telugu films. In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, the National Award-winning actor opens up about the benefits of working in regional cinema and her need to choose a good script over anything else.
Q) How has your journey been in the Punjabi film industry?
I think it was God’s plan for me to start my career with Punjabi films. Being a Punjabi, and growing up in that culture, it was the best thing that happened to me. Coming from the place, knowing the language and loving the music, it’s been great.
When I thought of becoming an actor, doing Punjabi films was the obvious choice. I come from a very humble background. My mother is a teacher and father is a principal. I knew doing a regional film is a better idea than doing a Bollywood film at that given point of time. It is not easy to get the ‘right’ Bollywood film in the beginning. When I came out of Miss India, I got a call for a Punjabi film. I spoke to my brother about it, as he is well aware of Punjabi films. He told me that I should take it up as it seems like a good opportunity as Gippy Grewal is a big name in the industry.
Now that I have done some considerable amount of Punjabi films, I think other than budget constraints, we are at par with any film industry in the country. People love the Punjabi language. We have great stories to tell. Every Bollywood film has a Punjabi song these days. Everybody loves it. I have done just one Tamil film and I have recently shot another one, so that’s also been a great learning experience.
Q) Now that you’re fully concentrating on Bollywood, how is the transition?
I have been getting offers here from last couple of years. The first Bollywood offer I got was after Punjab 1984, the film which won a National Award. Sometimes I had date issues. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if that particular film was the right film for me to make a Bollywood debut. This has been happening for quite some time now. It has never happened that I have gotten an opportunity and I thought that this is the one to kick-start my Bollywood career. And when the good ones came, I didn’t have dates. I have done four Punjabi films in a year. But now I have taken some time off to meet some people, and figure out stuff here. Even from within, I know that it is time for me to jump.
Q) Despite being an established Punjabi actor, you will have to begin from scratch in Bollywood. Are you prepared?
To be honest, I still feel like a newcomer in Punjab. I have never felt that I have become something or I have achieved something big. When I meet other people, I totally feel like a newcomer and that I have so much to do.
So, I am okay to work like a newcomer. I am okay to be treated like a newcomer because I think it keeps you humble and grounded. I even want to behave like a newcomer where you’re passionate and full of energy.
Q) You are patiently making choices in Bollywood. Is it because of your experience in regional cinema? Newcomers otherwise don’t wait and pounce at any given opportunity.
By the grace of God, this has been my nature since the very beginning. In Punjabi films or Tamil cinema, I haven’t done films just for the heck of it or because I have to survive. I understand girls coming from humble backgrounds, who are supporting their families, jumping at any film that comes their way because they have to. I respect them. But I have been clear about what I want, and hence, for me a script plays an important role in choosing a film.
There was a time when for one whole year I did not do any film because I didn’t feel I wanted to play the roles that were being offered to me. The break helped. Good scripts came my way again. It is important to know what you don’t want to do, more than what you want to do. It helps in the long run. There have been times that I have gotten tempted because they would pay me very well for an ‘okay’ film, but then I would tell myself that I am not here for fast money and I have to let go of those projects.