Breaking India! Are Punjabi films giving cinema goers something that Bollywood isn’t?

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Punjab may not have the strongest economy in India (that is a story on its own), yet the Punjabi entertainment industry is fast becoming Punjab’s biggest export throughout India. A casing point has been the unprecedented success of Carry On Jatta 2, this has set new records for Punjabi films, and the most surprising thing about this, is that we are not surprised by it at all.

As Bollywood looks at films that court controversy, they may have taken their eyes off the ball, and it seems Punjabi films have picked up the baton of entertainment, fantasy and pure indulgence and married it with huge name singers. Punjabi cinema is handing people some escapism for a couple of hours. India loves a good fantasy film, and Bollywood at its best was pure escapism.

The Punjabi entertainment scene (especially in India) has fully grasped importance of social media, unlike any other genre of entertainment. The stars who are at the top of their games are now easily recognised  by fans across India as they have not restricted themselves to Punjab.

Avengers: Infinity War’, ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’, and Bollywood films like ‘Raazi’, ‘Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran’ and ‘Veere Di Wedding’ are running successfully throughout India, yet it is the success of Carry on Jatt 2, that has made people sit up and take note.

Delhi, Nodia and Gurgoan are loving Punjabi cinema (50-70 screenings per day ), as are other states in the south of India. Films like ‘Golak Bugni Bank Te Batua’, ‘Daana Paani’, ‘Bhai Taru Singh’ and ‘Laung Laachi’ have also had an average occupancy of over 85% in cinemas across Delhi, Noida and Gurgaon. Exhibitors tell us that they’ve also became increasingly dependent on Punjabi movies to pack cinema halls. They say that a Punjabi film, coupled with good content and cast, does well across other regions as well as Punjab.

Actress Sargun Mehta, who has acted in several Punjabi films:  “Content has changed, and now Punjabi films are houseful not just in West Delhi, but in South Delhi, too.” Citing an example, a cinema manager says, “If you look at the movie listing pages of booking websites, you’ll find Punjabi films next to Hindi and English in non Punjabi areas and this positioning is only because of their growing popularity.”

Social Media:
Diljit Dosanjh and Gippy Grewal have a good fan-following in north India, and this is growing daily due their presence on social media and fan interaction. Reality shows play a role, too. Joginder Mahajan, a Delhi-based film distributor, says, “A number of Punjabi film actors are part of TV reality shows, and that’s why they have a good fan following. We receive a lot of feedback from the audience in Delhi saying that they went for a Punjabi film only after they spotted a known face on the boarding.”

Yogesh Raizada, Corporate Head, Wave Cinemas, told the times of India, “The producers of Punjabi films bank on this familiarity formula, and going by the packed cinema halls, it seems that casting familiar faces has indeed proved to be fruitful.”

“Star power definitely works. When a moviegoer – who otherwise is not interested in a Punjabi film – sees a familiar face like Jimmy Shergill or Diljit Dosanjh on a poster, he wants to watch it. But star power alone doesn’t run regional films. Another reason why Punjabi films are doing well in Delhi now is because till a few years back, most Punjabi films were only comedies, but now, the industry is working on other kinds of content as well.”

Let hope this keeps up, Punjab needs positive news and the success of Carry on Jatta 2, should be seen as a stepping stone for further success for the whole Punjabi entertainment sector.

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