There comes a time in everyone’s life when things change beyond your wildest imagination and that too in just a split second. Most of us have experienced that and so did the tottering Punjabi film industry at the turn of the century, which was trying its best not to fall into an abyss that it had largely created for itself. Unimaginative storylines, casting (ranging on the absurd), poor titles, music (everything but creative), and every scene that seemed to be a perfect example of ‘penny-pinching’?
There seemed to be no hope. Punjabi film lovers were forced to lunge for the nearest exit doors at damp cinemas because of poor cinematic content. Above all, the only ‘ticket-buyers were the ubiquitous UP ‘Bhaiyas’, watching them in the hope of brushing up their Punjabi skills.
And as the cliche goes, one day a film came along as a ray of hope for a ‘one-time’ booming Punjabi film industry which was sadly on the verge of being declared a ‘has-been’. I am talking of the film with which we are all very familiar.
‘Jee Aayan Nu’ simply changed the rules of the game and proved that Punjabi cinema could bring back in hordes of viewers which in turn translated into mega collections.
A famous singer was trying his luck as an actor hoping the audience would not mind the difference. And thankfully they did not. Sick of dialogues like ‘Main tainu nahin chadangaa’, ‘Jithe jageera Janda hai uthe dharti kambdi hai….., ‘Oye aider aa oye, waddeya badmasha’ etc.
The soft and tender voice of this Canada-returned singer came as a whiff of fresh air, the kind that you enjoy sitting on the terrace at Kasauli club amidst the pine trees.
The film became a rage and its songs became pretty huge too. It was technically superior and its cinematography was pleasantly amazing. Considering the risk that its director – the iconic cinematographer Manmohan Singh had taken, one can simply stand amazed by his risk-taking capability.
Manmohan Singh, who frequently collaborated with Yash Chopra, for whom he shot Darr, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Dil Toh Pagal Hai, and Mohabbatein, seemed to have made up his mind to give something back to the land that he really belonged to. And he delivered, big-time!
A simple story served on a smorgasbord of excellent songs, acting, cinematography, and direction laid the foundation for many future films to emulate. ‘Jee Aayan Nu’ became the juggernaut that steamrolled everyone in its path. It also provided a lifeline for Priya Gill to resurrect her sagging Bollywood career and not to forget the pleasant screen presence of Kimi Verma, who enslaved everyone with her charms. And how can we ever forget the support provided by Kanwaljit Singh, Ghuggi, Navneet Nishan, and the rest of the crew?
A wonderful effort by Manmohan Ji for saving the Punjabi film industry from the brink of disaster. We shall forever remain indebted to you.