Gippy Grewal is one of the most prolific actors currently working in the Punjabi film industry. But he is not just an actor. He writes, sings and directs as well. He has blockbusters like Carry on Jatta, Carry on Jatta 2, Jatt James Bond, Jihne Mera Dil Luteya and Manje Bistre to his credit. He has also acted in Hindi films like Lucknow Central and Second Hand Husband. His directing credits include the 2016 film Ardaas. In this interview with Murtaza Ali Khan, he talks about his latest release Ardaas Karaan (the sequel to Ardaas), his ability to don different hats and much more
Ardaas was both a critical and commercial success. What can we expect from Ardaas Karaan?
Ardaas came out in 2016 and so it has taken has three years to come out with the sequel. The main focus of Ardaas was social issues affecting Punjab such as drugs, farmer suicides, female feticide, etc. So when we started working on the story for its sequel, we thought of choosing a more universal subject.
So a universal theme that appealed to us most was generation gap. We have also tried to focus upon the weakening of human ties owing to busy lifestyles. Everyone would be able to relate to it as one level or the other. Without consciously taking anyone’s side, we have shown the different points of view in Ardaas Karaan. Hopefully the film will appeal to the people of different age groups.
Other than directing the film, you are also acting in it. Tell us about your character.
I play an ambitious man who is driven by a deep desire is to earn a lot of money in the shortest possible time. That’s what has brought him to Canada. All the time he is planning, scheming and looking for shortcuts to make money. He has no feeling for his wife’s emotions. Also he is indifferent towards the feelings of his parents.
Now, I haven’t played a dislikeable character like this one before. All our lives we don’t value the things that we have but the day we lose it we start realising what we have lost. That’s exactly what we have tried to explore through the character that I am playing in Ardaas Karaan.
You don different hats that of an actor, singer, writer, director and producer. How do you manage to strike a balance?
Well, first and foremost, I try to keep things simple. Every role comes with a unique set of responsibilities. A producer must be smart enough to keep a track of the budget without compromising on the quality. It is ultimately a business and so you can’t afford to lose money. On the other hand, writing is a very organic process which tends to take a lot of time as the story must evolve on its own.
Now, acting comes naturally to me as I like keeping things spontaneous. As far as singing goes, I have been doing it long before I became an actor. While I enjoy directing, the challenge arises when I am both directing and acting at the same time. That’s when things start to get a bit tricky and so there is a need to slow things down. That’s precisely why I have taken much longer to make Ardaas Karaan.
How do you see the trend of sequels? Is it driven purely by commercial interests?
Every film cannot have a sequel. When a film becomes a major commercial success, there is a lot of pressure to recreate the same magic. At first, I was not in favour of making a sequel to Carry on Jatta but the fans compelled me to make a sequel. The box-office figures along are enough to understand the kind of love it received from the audience. But it is not about money always.
In comparison to Carry on Jatta or Manje Bistre, the performance of Ardaas was quite average at the box-office. But people connected with it very strongly at a personal level. They urged me to make more such films. So that’s how Ardaas Karaan came into being. One definite advantage of making sequels to commercially successful films is that they automatically get a big initial push at the ticket counter. How
How do you reflect upon your journey? What were your struggling days like?
During my early days I had to work in hotels in Delhi and other places in order to sustain a living. Then one day I decided to go back to Punjab but nothing really materialised. Subsequently, I travelled to Canada where I had to put in long shifts in order to survive. After work, there was hardly any time left to sleep.
But the money that I made came handy as I was able to record an album. I got back some money when the album finally got released. It really set me on the right track. I have finally managed to reach here taking small steps. So the struggle has been quite long but I guess one tends to value success even more if it doesn’t come easily.
Tell us about your upcoming projects
My upcoming projects include Carry on Jatta 3 but that will take some time. The movie that’s lined up next is Dacca