October 11, 2013
The new generation Punjabi cinema has not only set the box office ringing, but has also generated interest in unexpected quarters: among the Politicians and Realtors.
Impressed by the success of contemporary Punjabi movies like "Jatt and Juliet" and "Carry on Jatta", netas and their kin are flocking to grab a slice of the showbiz action.
With a sharp rise in number of films being produced over the last few years, and some proving to be grossers, many from the political class, irrespective of which party they belong to, are putting their money and time into film-making.
Recently released Punjabi movie "Young Malang" was produced by the senior Congress leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal's son Rahulinder Sidhu, Congress MLA Raj Kumar Verka is also tested waters by co-producing "Dil Pardesi Ho Gia", featuring Bollywood's Akshay Kumar and Shakti Kapoor and Punjabi singer Inderjeet Nikku .
Senior Akali leader and Markfed chairman Jarnail Singh Wahid, co-owner of a sugar mill in Phagwara, has also jumped into film production by setting up Wahid Sandhar Show Biz, along with his family and business partner Sukhbir Sandhar. The production house came out with a film by the intriguing title of "Vyah 70 Km" and soon to be released "Mukhtiar Chadha". Sandhar had earlier produced "Jatt Boys Putt Jattan de", and its success prompted Wahid to collaborate for "Viaah 70 Km".
The trend was started by PTC Motion Pictures, a sister concern of PTC Channel, which is controlled by the first political family of Punjab. The group had produced "Fer Mamla Gadbad Gadbad" a few months ago.
According to industry insiders, this film acted as a trigger for other Punjab leaders to try their moves in the cine world as they trust the business knack of the family.
Jarnail Wahid said it was his son Sandeep Singh's idea to venture into this trade. The latter explained the shift as a business opportunity since Punjabi films are doing well these days. "But it appears there is a rush as many people are joining showbiz. It can lead to compromise in quality and cast."
With the slowing down of the property scene, realtors too are finding it a lucrative investment. They have begun financing movies, including those being produced by the kin of established politicians. "Earlier, investing in property made good business sense, but with the slump in the market many people, including netas, are looking for new investment options," said someone associated with the Punjabi film industry.
According to Punjabi music and film critic Swaran Tehna, it's also the glamour that is a draw for political families, especially when they can afford to pander to their whims. "It gives them the chance to see their names on the big screen and provides them good exposure during promotions," he said.