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The Dilenma of fie Puniabi Film Heroes

The Dilenma of fie Puniabi Film Heroes  

Surinder Malhi

A dominant majority of the he roles of films made in Bollywood hails from the Punjab, yet it is amazing to find that not a single hero of the Punjabi films has ever graduated into Hindi films to Play a real stellar role there.  Surinder Malhi in this article pinpoints the dilemma faced by the Punjabi film heroes and lays blame on a number of important cause for this neglect and negativisim. He gives us here an enlighting peep into this Problem and also its solution. 
Almost every cinema buff ungrudgingly accepts the fact that a predominant majority of heroes of Hindi films hail from Punjab. year after year and generation after generation, the Punjabis have consistently served in stellar roles in films from Bollywood the Mecca of the Indian film world. Possessing a pleasing look, a magnetic personality and a rich acting potential, these actors have always straddled the Indian film scene like a colossus.
Not withstanding this invincible position of Punjabi actors, it is rather discomforting to realize that the regional heroes of Punjabi films are now just being dismissed as Lilliputians who are unable to achieve any distinctive position in histrionics the art of acting. This hapless fate of the leading men of Punjabi cinema can further be understood by the fact that while the other regional heroes like Venktesh, Rajani Kant and Chiranjeevi are now being woven in the vast texture of the Indian cinema, the Punjabi heroes stand not only disgracefully isolated but are also being labeled as "dummy artiste".
Apart from being declared as incompetent actors, the heroes of Punjabi cinema are also suffering the ignominy of being branded as "disloyal" to their regional films. Those who advocate this Point of view emphatically claim that while the southern stars enter the Bombay film world via their outstanding performance in their regional films and consistently remain loyal to them, our Punjabi stars tend to overlook their own films once they chance to migrate to the more alluring pastures of the Hindi movies. This Phenomenon has been existing ever since the Punjabi films came into inception and has gradually led to the decline and erosion of their genuine talent also. lt is sometimes felt that for this sorry state of affairs, the Punjabi heroes too are Partly responsible. For example, Pran started his career with a bang as a hero of the Punjabi film Yamla Jat (1945) and soon became an out standing crook of Hindi films. Again, Prem Chopra got his break in the glamorous world through a Punjabi iitm Sapni (1966). But instead of consolidating his position as a hero in the regional films, he preferred to act out villainy in Hindi films. Not to be left behind was Daljit (the most popular hero of Punjabi films produced between the sixties and the seventies) who discarded his regional cinema and leaPedJorward [o become a stunt hero of C grade Hindi films like Shahi Chor, Laila, Awara Shehzadi, Passing Show and Taj Aur Talwar.
Nevertheless, whenever these stars who had switched over to Indian films tried to act in regional films, the audience liked them and welcomed them enthusiastically For example, Dara Singh started his career as a stunt hero of Dev Sharmas King Kong and his introduction as a muscle man led to many silver jubilee hits but his stereotyped roles failed to fetch any critical acclamation for him. On the contrary, in his first Punjabi film Nanak Dukhiya Sabh Sansar  (1970), he displayed his full potential of acting and also upgraded the popularity of Punjabi heroes ln a similar vein, Raj Babbars Performance in Chann Pardesi, Madhi Da Deeva and Naseebo brought raving reviews for him and also enhanced the prestige of Punjabi films
But the ticklish question is why did the other Punjabi stars fail to let any national or international recognition ? The key to this question is hidden in the fact that the Punjabi films do not offer much scope for any artiste to establish his versatility. Hanging loosely on the threads of a meandering scriPt, these films generally offer an unadulterated amalgamation of comedy, action, romance and melodrama. While analysing the prevailing conceptual trends of Punjabi films, it becomes self-evident that it is invariably a crude type of comedy that has dominated the thematic base of these films.
Obviously, this compulsive fashion of eulogising the art of buffoonery has always resulted in the glorification of only the comic at the cost of all other significant emotions present in a balanced movie. Thus, in the sixties and the seventies, comedians like Majnu (Kaude Shah) Kharaiti (Do Lachhian, Pind Di Kudi Shaunkan Mele Di) and Gopal Sehgal (Lajo, Geet Baharan De), got more footage than the then leading heroes like Daljit and Ravinder Kapoor. Again, in the films like Sat Saalian, Pardesi Dhola, the role of a hero was defined essentially in comic overtones. Not satisfied with this hero-cum-comedian concept of -the protagonist, the Punjabi iitm makers went ahead to promote the comedians as heroes. For this reason, Gopal Sehgal(Mama Ji) and I. S. Johar (Chadian Di Doli) appeared in the main roles.
This incessant onslaught by the comic element continued even during the 80s and 90s with the only exception that the old kings of laughter were replaced by the new gods of mimicry. Hence the performance of several talented artistes like Dara Singh (Mele Mittran De), Sunil Datt (Man .Jeete Jag Jeet), Virendra (Sarpanch, Subedarni), Dheeraj Kumar (Patola), Satish Kaul and Navin Nischal paled into insignificance before the overshadowing roles of the comedians like Mehar Mittal and Atro Chatro. Besides, the ever-growing concept of Jokar as a Hero remained unchanged because Mehar Mittal came to snatch and wear the crown of the hero in films like Maa Da Laadla and Do Madari.
That Mehar Mittal was regarded as the only spring-board of Punjabi films can be understood from the fact that even J. Om Parkash the veteran producer-director of Hindi films was coerced by his distributors to minimise the role cf Navin Nischal, the hero, and to give more footage to Mehar Mittal in Aasra Pyar Da. Embittered by his first experience in the arena of Punjabi movies, J. Om Parkash left  his regional cinema forever.
ln a curious reversal of roles, the contemporary Punjabi cinema is now replacing the comedians by the action heroes. Taking inspiration from Pakistani Punjabi films, these films glorify the stuntmanship of their protagonists. So, gradually the comedians are receding into the background and their place is now being occupied by the action heroes like Gugu Gilt (Jat JeunaMaur), yograj Singh (lnsaaf Punjab Da) and Sukhjinder Shera (Pagdi Sambhal Jatta). Consequently, the contemporary heroes of Punjabi film now participate in such daring action scenes in which gun totting ruffians, with their frequent exchange of fire, galloping horses, running over dangerous terrains and engaging themselves in violent encounters constitute the main backdrop. Since such type of roles lack variety and complexity, these heroes have so far failed to land any convincing or classical dimensions tc their performance.
To make things worse, a third category of singing stars has now suddenly burst upon the cloudy horizon of Punjabi films. According to this trend, several popular folk singers are now entering the arena of acting. Thus for example, Gurdas Mann (Mamla Garbar Hai, Kachehari, Partigya), Malkiat Singh (Mehandi Shagna Di)are leading the cast of so many Punjabi films while other performers l   audience but, lacking as they do in the art of histrionics, they have ever failed to enhance the prestige of a Punjabi hero.

ike Hans Raj Hans (Mehqndi Shagna Di), Sardul Sikandar (Vaisakhi), Mohammad Sadiq (Saida Jogan) and Surinder Chhinda (Veerta) are appearing in pivotal roles. On the basis of their popularity, these star singers initially did create-to me interest among the
Realising that there is no true hero or a real superstar in Punjabi films, the Hindi film makers are treating these Friday Nights stars with indifference and casualness. Hence, sidelining their regular heros, Punjabi film producers are now promoting themselves also as the leading men in their films like Kulli yaar Di (Buta Singh Shaad), Pagdi Sambhal Jatta (Sukhjinder Shera), Karan Mann (Ankheela Soorma). Apparently, the already existing position of the Punjabi heroes appears now to be more deplorable and vulnerable and day by day it is receiving a severe setback.
As not much effort and intelligence have been bestowed on the fact of grooming the really credible Punjabi film heroes, they have been so far denied their legitimate place in the domain of Hindi films also. This position could have been theirs if they had earned, firstly. their true credentials by being fine and effective heroes in their own initial medium the Punjabi films. Hw apt in this regard is the advice contained in the proverb which says -gharon jaiye kha kay te agoan milan paka kay. (lf you go out of your house after appeasing your hunger, you will find people welcoming you everywhere with many food delicacies and preparations)
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