Cinema of Punjab

Cinema of Punjab

Punjabi cinema is the Punjabi language film industry in the states of Punjab in India and Pakistan. This article deals with Punjabi cinema in India.

The first Punjabi film was released in Lahore, provincial capital of the Pakistani Punjab. The Lahore film industry is known as Lollywood, a portmanteau of the words Lahore and Hollywood, similarly, Punjabi cinema has been called Pollywood by western audiences.[citation needed]

As of 2009, the Punjabi film industry has produced between 900 and 1,000 films.[citation needed] The average number of releases per year in the 1970s was nine; in the 1980s, eight; and in the 1990s, six. In 1995, the number of films released was 11; it plummeted to seven in 1996 and touched a low of five in 1997. Since the 2000s Punjabi cinema has seen a revival with more releases every year with bigger budgets, home grown stars, and Bollywood actors of Punjabi descent taking part.


First film

K.D. Mehra made the first Punjabi "talkie" film, Noor Jehan was introduced as an actress and singer in this film. Sheila was made in Calcutta and released in Lahore. It ran very successfully and was a hit across the province.[citation needed] Due to the success of this film more producers started making Punjabi films.[2] K.D. Mehra made his second film, Heer Sial (1938), with the assistance of M.M. Billoo Mehra. This film had Noor Jehan and new artists Balo and M. Ismail. This film was commercially successful.[3]

Due to the vast Punjabi community in Lahore and Punjab, the area soon became a significant Punjabi-language film market. Studios opened up and many artists, producers, directors, and technicians from Bombay and Calcutta shifted to Lahore. Prominent names were Shanta Apte, Motilal, Chandra Mohan, Hiralal, Noor Jehan, Mumtaz Shanti, Wali, Syed Attahullah Shah Hashmi, Krishna Kumar, and Shanker Hussain. Baldev Raj Chopra, later known as a director, got started in the movie industry in Lahore, where he ran a film magazine called the Cine Herald. Ramanand Sagar, also later a director, was associated with the Evening News. Syed Attahullah Shah Hashmi worked for the film newspaper Adakar.

Punjabi partition

In 1947, India was divided into two parts, India and Pakistan. The Punjab region was split between the two nations. West Punjab became part of Pakistan and East Punjab became part of India. This affected Punjabi cinema because most Muslim artists and directors moved to Pakistan, and worked in Lollywood, while Sikhs and Hindus moved to Bombay.


Attempts were made to keep Indian Punjabi cinema alive in this period. Film-makers made films like Posti, Do Lachhian and Bhangra with some success but were not able to revive Punjabi cinema. Songs from the films would run for months and years on the radio resulting in a long term audience for the films.[citation needed]

Post-partition, the trend of comedies continued. One of the hit comedies was Mulkh Raj Bhakhri's Bhangra (1958), starring Sundar and Nishi. It was remade by director Mohan Bhakhri as Jatti in 1980 with Mehar Mittal and Aparna Chowdhry, and it was again a commercial success. The music from the film was by Hansraj Behl with lyrics by Verma Malik. Songs sung by Shamshad and Rafi like "Batti balkay banere utte rakhdi han, rah bhul na jave chann mera" and "Chitte dand hasnon nayion rehnde" were widespread hits. Johnny Walker (1957) was a hit and was later remade under the same title, featuring Mehar Mittal in the lead role and Amitabh Bachchan as a guest star.


The big-budget romantic Punjabi film by director Padam Prakash Maheshwary, Satluj de Kande, was released in 1964. This film starred Balraj Sahni, Nishi, Wasti, and Mirza Musharraf, with music by Hansraj Behl. This was the only Punjabi film starring Balraj Sahni. It was a major hit and earned a National Film Award. Satluj de Kande was broadcast three times on the public TV channel Doordarshan in India.

In 1969 the religious film Nanak Nam Jahaz Hai starring Prithviraj Kapoor, I. S. Johar, Vimmi, Som Dutt, Nishi, Suresh, and David Abraham was released. The film was the first really major successful Punjabi film in post-independent India with a major cultural impact on Punjabi Sikhs at home and abroad and is credited with the revival of the Punjabi film industry in India. People stood in kilometre long lines to buy a ticket for the film.


After the success of Nanak Nam Jahaz Hai, films were released in huge numbers. Hindi actors of Punjabi descent became interested in Punjabi films. Kankan De Ohle (Dharmendra, Asha Parekh and Ravindra Kapoor) and Nanak Dukhiya Sab Sansar (Dara Singh, Balraj Sahni, Ram Mohan and Asha Sachdev) were released in 1970. 1971 saw no major releases. In 1972, Dara Singh starred with Prithviraj Kapoor in Mele Mitran De. Man Jeete Jag Jeet, a religious film starring Sunil Dutt, Radha Saluja and Ranjeet, was a major release of 1973. In 1974, Do Sher (Dharmendra and Rajendra Kumar), Bhagat Dhanna Jatt (Dara Singh and Feroz Khan), Sacha Mera Roop Hai (Manmohan Krishan) and Dukh Bhanjan Tera Naam (Shaminder Singh and Radha Saluja) were released. The most successful was Dukh Bhanjan Tera Naam, due to the wide appeal of its religious historical setting and appearances by Bollywood superstars including Sunil Dutt, Rajendra Kumar, Dharmendra, Johnny Walker, and Dara Singh.[citation needed]

Teri Meri Ek Jindri (1975) starred Dharmendra and introduced his cousin Veerendra. Many films were released in 1976: Daaj Giddha, Main Papi Tum Bakhshanhaar, Papi Tarey Anek, Santo Banto, Sardar-E-Azam, Sawa Lakh Se Ek Ladaun, Taakra, and Yamla Jatt. Sawa Lakh Se Ek Ladaun was the biggest hit and starred Dara Singh. The film ran into conflict with the Sikh political parties as the film had Fauj-i-Khas soldiers wearing fake beards. The year 1977 was not a major one for the Punjabi film industry. Jai Mata Di, Saal Solvan Chadya, Sat Sri Akal, and Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha were released, amongst others. Saal Solvan Chadya was a highlight because of the cameo appearance by Rekha. Sat Sri Akal was another hit film. It starred Sunil Dutt, Shatrughan Sinha, and Premnath. In 1978 Udeekan, Dhyani Bhagat, Jai Mata Sheranwali, and Jindri Yar Di were released. The drama Udeekan was a hit. Walayati Babu, the first ever remake in Punjabi cinema, was released in 1978. The film was remade from the Punjabi film of the same name by Johnny Walker, and featured a special appearance by Amitabh Bachchan. 1979 was a big year: Guru Manio Granth, Jatt Punjabi, Kunwara Mama, Sukhi Pariwar, and Til Til Dalekha were released. The religious film Guru Manio Granth was an instant hit. Jatt Punjabi had a big cast and a special appearance by Manoj Kumar. Til Til Da Lekha won the Punjab State Government award for best story writer and second best feature film of 1979. The first mystery film was released, Vangaar (The Challenge); it failed to become a hit.


Chann Pardesi, the first Punjabi film to win the national award, was released in 1980, and was the biggest hit of that year. It starred Raj Babbar, Rama Vij, Amrish Puri, Om Puri, and Kulbhusun Kharbanda. Fauji Chacha had veteran Bollywood actor Sanjeev Kumar in the lead. A remake of Mulkh Raj Bhakhri's 1958 film Bhangra came out in 1980 from director Mohan Bhakhri. The film was titled Jatti, and starred Sundar, Nishi, Mehar Mittal, and Aparna Chowdhry. As with the original, the remake was a tremendous success.[4]

1981 had only one hit: Balbiro Bhabhi. This film had Veerendra in the lead role. Two major releases of 1985 were Ucha Dar Babe Nanak Da and Sarpanch. The former was a religious film that established Gurdas Mann as a star. Sarpanch starred Veerendra. In 1983, many movies were released, with Putt Jattan De the biggest commercially. Veerendra had another hit in 1984 with the film Yaari Jatt Di. This film was the first Punjabi film to have more than half its footage shot in the United Kingdom. Mamla Garbar Hai was a hit for actor Gurdas Mann. The film's songs were especially loved.

Two hit films of 1985 were Mohammad Sadiq's Guddo and Veerendra's Vairi. Long Da Lishkara was the big hit of 1986, starring Raj Babbar, Gurdas Mann, Om Puri, and Nina Deol. In 1987 Veerendra starred in Patola and Jor Jatt Da. Punjab was shaken with the assassination of Veerendra by gunshot during the filming of Jatt Tey Zameen. The death opened the door for supporting actors including Gugu Gill and Yograj Singh to take leading roles.

1988 had no major film releases. In 1989 came the critically acclaimed Marhi Da Diva. The film starred Raj Babbar, Pankaj Kapur, Kanwaljeet Singh, Parikshit Sahni, and Deepti Naval.


In 1990 Qurbani Jatt Di, starring Gugu Gill, Yograj Singh, Gurdas Mann, Dharmendra, Raj Babbar and Priti Sapru. The film was directed by Preeti Sapru herself, and did well at the box office. A second important release was Dushmani Di Agg the last film of Veerendra. It also starred Gurdas Mann and Priti Sapru, and was successful at the box office. In 1991 the major film Anakh Jattan Di starred Diljit Kaur and Gugu Gill. It was the first movie where the people really accepted ex-villain Gugu Gill as a hero. The film was followed by films like Jor Jatt Da, which managed to recover its cost. Badla Jatti Da was the major success of the year. It starred Gugu Gill, Yograj Singh in a villain role, and Aman Noorie. Udeekan Saun Diyan garnered critical acclaim, but was not a commercial success. Sounh Menoo Punjab Di, starring Satish Kaul, Rama Vij, Mehar Mittal, and Pal Randhawa was also one of releases of 1991. The film was directed by Sukhdev Ahluwalia, one of the most successful directors of Punjwood, and had music by Surinder Kohli.

Vaisakhi starring Deep Dhillon and Sunita Dheer, was released in 1991 to critical acclaim, but did not succeed commercially. Jatt Jeona Morh was a major hit that year, and made Gugu Gill a superstar. Also released was Yograj Singh's Jagga Daku, which did moderately well. Dil Da Mamla, starring Guggu Gill and Amar Noori, did poorly at the box office.

1993 had films like Jatt Sucha Singh Soorma (with Yograj Singh and Neena Sidhu), Mirza Sahiban (starring Gugu Gill), Lalkara Jatt Da, and Saali Adhi Gharwali. These films managed to do adequately at the box office, but were not major successes. Preeti Sapru's Mehndi Shagnan Di, starring Malkit Singh, Hansraj Hans, Preeti Sapru, and Yograj Singh, lost money. Kudi Canada Di starring Yograj Singh also did poorly.

Kachehri (1994) starred Gurdas Mann, Yograj Singh, and others. The film was praised by critics, was a commercial success, and won a national award. A second release was Tabahi, starring newcomer Vishal Singh; it was the blockbuster hit of the year. Guggu Gill's Vairi did quite well at the box office, but Jigra Jatt Da, with Yograj Singh as the villain, did poorly at the box office.

Kimi Verma starred in Naseebo and Qahar in 1995 to critical acclaim, but not commercial success. Naseebo managed managed to recover its costs. Pratigya, starring Gugu Gill, Gurdas Maan, Preeti Sapru, and Dara Singh did well at the box office. Zaildaar (Yograj Singh), Nain Preeto De (Yograj Singh), and Sir Dhad Di Baazi did well. Gurdas Mann's Baghawat did not. Jakhmi Jagirdar and Mera Punjab amongst others also did poorly that year.

Punjabi cinema began to decline in 1996. Only the film Sukha (starring Vishal Singh) did well at the box office. Deson Pardeson, Dhee Jatt Di (Upasana Singh, Gurkirtan, and Shivinder Mahal), Vichoda (Yograj Singh), Gawahi Jatt Di, and Jorawar all did poorly at the box office. Dara Singh's Vindoo and Farha's Rabb Diyan Rakhan also fared poorly.

Films of 1997 (Mela, Truck Driver, Sardari, Preetan De Pehredaar, and Pachtaawa) all failed to make a profit. Even Gugu Gill's films were not successful. Train to Pakistan was filmed in a mixture of Hindi and Punjabi, and was later dubbed into Punjabi for film festivals.

In 1998 Gugu Gill's Purja Purja Kat Mare, Dara Singh, Ravinder Maan, and Vishal's Laali, and Kalbhooshan Kharbanda and Tanuja's Dildaara did not make money. Even big budget films like Guru Gobind Singh did poorly. The critically acclaimed Main Maa Punjab Dee won a National award, but it was not a big hit initially. Later this film was shown repeatedly on national television. The year ended on a positive note as Jaspal Bhatti's Mahaul Theek Hai became an instant hit of Punjabi cinema. It was the first big hit since Jatt Jeona Morh (1991) and Badla Jatti Da (1992).

Punjabi films were more successful in 1999. Mahaul Theek Hai, Gurdas Maan, and Divya Dutta's Shaheed e Mohabbat was a critical and commercial success. Muqqadar, Tera Mera Pyar, Nadiyon Vichde Neer, Door Nahin Nankana, and Ishq Nachave Gali Gali (Randeep Virender, Manjeet Kullar, Deepak Saraf, Neeru Singh, Surinder Sharma) all did poorly at the box office. Rajniti, which was also made in Hindi, failed to make money. Raj Babbar's Shaheed Udham Singh did well towards the end of the year. There were only two major hits that year, Shaheed e Mohabbat and Shaheed Udham Singh.


In 2000 there was just a single release: Dard Pardesan De, starring Avinash Wadhawan, Upasana Singh, Paramveer, and Deepshikha, which fared poorly in Punjab, but did very well overseas. Sikandra and Jagira were released in 2001. Avinash Wadhawan and Ayesha Jhulka starred in Khalsa Mero Roop Hai Khaas , which was released to the overseas market but not in Punjab.

In 2002 Jee Ayan Nu was released, featuring singer turned actor Harbhajan Mann and directed by Manmohan Singh. The movie was made on a big budget for Punjwood - 90 lakhs, as compared to the more typical 20-50 lakhs. Badla came out in 2003. Asa Nu Maan Watna Da was released in 2004, again with actor Harbhajan Mann and director Manmohan Singh.

Jija Ji, Des Hoyaa Pardes, Main Tu Assi Tussi, Yaaran Naal Baharan, and Nalaik were released in 2005. Dil Apna Punjabi (again pairing Harbhajan and Manmohan), Ek Jind Ek Jaan, Mannat directed and written by Gurbir Singh Grewal Having Jimmy Sheirgill and Introducing Kulraj Randhawa and Waris Shah came out in 2006. Kambdi Kalai a Punjabi diaspora movie based out of the United States, came out in 2006. Rustam-e-Hind and Mitti Wajan Mardi (Harbhajan and Manmohan) were released in 2007.

A significant number of movies were produced in 2008: Yaariyan, Mera Pind, Lakh pardesi hoye, Heaven on earth, and Sat sri akal. In 2009, Jag Jeodeye Deh Mele became a hit, and Tera Mera Ki Ristha with Jimmy Shergill was a hit. But the biggest earner of all the punjabi films was Manmohan Singh's Munde Uk De with Jimmy Shergill and Gurpreet Ghugghi.

Munde Uk De broke the record of Dil Apna Punjabi Movie which was also directed by Manmohan Singh and became the biggest earner of all the Punjabi movies.

Mehndi Wale Hath with new star cast Goldie Somal, Gavie Chahal, Prableen etc. Was a hit film in east punjab teritory realesed in 2006. Written &Directed by Harinder Gill.

Jawani Zindabad featuring Raj Barar the famous punjabi singer, Pooja Kanwal, Gugu Gill, Gurkirtan etc. Written & directed by Harinder Gill released in March 2010.Its a big hit in Canada. Channa Sachi Muchi starring Miss Puja & Goldie Somal writer & directer Harinder Gill realesed in Aug.2010.


In 2010, 16 movies were released. Mel Karade Rabba, starring Jimmy Shergill later broke all records and grossed 32.50 crore nett and became the highest grossing Punjabi film ever. Sukhmani-hope for life, starring Gurdas Maan, Juhi chawla & divya Dutta

In the year ending Chak Jawana were released, directed by SIMERJIT SINGH starring Gurdas Maan.


In February 2011, the PTC Punjabi channel organised the first ever Punjabi film awards at Panchkula. It was a tremendous boost to the industry and was attended by the likes of Om Puri , Prem Chopra, Gurdas Maan, Guddu Dhanoa , Preeti Sapru, Raza Muraad, Satish Kaul , Manmohan Singh, Amrinder Gill, Gippy Grewal , Jasbir Jassi, Puneet Issar, Rakesh Bedi, Rama Vij, Sudhanshu Pandey, Akriti Kakkar and many more.

With renewed interest from the public, Punjabi cinema has seen a revival with more releases every year featuring bigger budgets, home grown stars, and Bollywood actors of Punjabi descent taking part.

2011 looks to be the year when the industry moves away from the "typical NRI-centered" storylines and towards more meaningful and creative storylines with movies like The Lion of Punjab and Dharti. This year also saw the production of the first Punjabi 3D feature film Pehchaan 3D.

Jihne Mera Dil Luteya is a 2011 Punjabi film directed by Mandeep Kumar with story and screenplay by Dheeraj Rattan, produced by Batra Showbiz Pvt. Ltd. and starring Gippy Grewal, Diljit Dosanjh, Neeru Bajwa, Jaswinder Bhalla.

National Award winners

Satluj De Kande (1964) and Nanak Naam Jahaaz Hai (1969) directed by Panna Lal Maheshwari won the National Award's Certificate of Merit.

Best feature film awards were won by Chann Pardesi (1980), directed by Chitrarth; Marhi Da Deeva (1989), directed by Surinder Singh; Kachehari (1994), Main Maa Punjab Dee (1998), written and directed by Balwant Dullat; Shaheed-E-Mohabbat (1999), directed by Manoj Punj; Shaheed Udham Singh (2000), directed by Chitrarth; and Des Hoya Pardes (2005)."waris shah - ishq daa waaris" (2006)directed by Manoj Punj.

Punjabi stars

See also


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