Cinema | Stargazer
Back to the Village
A docu-series on Punjab’s new pop stars B Praak, Diljit Dosanjh, Badshah and Harrdy Sandhu
01 Apr, 2022
(L to R) Deepika Padukone, Harrdy Sandhu and Nimrat Kaur
When Harrdy Sandhu and Ammy Virk left London after the shoot of 83 (2021), in which they played Madan Lal and Balwinder Singh Sandhu, respectively, they had 16 suitcases between them, mostly of luxury leisurewear. That’s become a trademark of the new generation of Punjabi pop stars, who model themselves on Black American rap stars. From their aspirational consumption to their aggressive lyrics, the pop stars have managed to go national with their branded angst. From Gucci tracksuits to Tom Ford glasses, they can compete with the best in the world when it comes to looking the part. It’s something Karan Johar has found fascinating since he met Badshah with whom he has been a judge on Star Plus’ reality show Dil Hai Hindustani. Johar, who is busy wrapping up the shoot of Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani, which he says is a return to his kind of unapologetic filmmaking, is now planning a docu-series on Punjab’s new pop stars, among them B Praak, Diljit Dosanjh, Badshah and Harrdy Sandhu. The Netflix series will take viewers back to the villages these superstars came from, their cultural influences, and their incredible following worldwide. Given the influence they wield in the minds and hearts of young India, it should be worth a watch.
Women are powering the change in streaming series, telling stories not seen before through their work on and behind the scenes. But there is another area where they have made an enormous transformation, and that is in coming to terms with mental illness. Deepika Padukone, who first went public with her experience of depression in 2015, was included in this year’s prestigious Time 100 Impact list for her advocacy of mental health. Vidya Balan, who has been speaking on body shaming, opened up on dealing with hormonal and emotional issues. At an event in Mumbai, she spoke with candour and humour about being a public figure, handling the anxiety of public appearances, and working with a healer to change her perception about her body by using a technique called access consciousness. When powerful role models open up about the challenges of conforming, they send out just the right message to other women who fear the wrath of public opinion. It’s something Taapsee Pannu combats in her work as well, whether it is the issue of pay parity or the kind of roles she wants to play.
It’s a pity Will Smith slapped Chris Rock in what was possibly the most diverse Oscars in a long time. It’s taken the spotlight away from the 94th edition, which was pluralism at its best. In only the third time since the Oscars began in 1929, did a woman win the award for Best Director (Jane Campion for early Best Picture favourite The Power of the Dog, 2021). Smith was only the fifth Black man to win Best Actor—only 20 Blacks have won an Oscar so far. And a part-Puerto Rican, Ariana DeBose, won Best Supporting Actress for West Side Story (2021). But the truly inspired award was Best Picture to Apple TV+’s CODA (which stands for Child of Deaf Adults), 2021, which is really like Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Khamoshi: The Musical (1996), where the child of deaf parents wants to sing. A sweet, somewhat sentimental movie, it has many moments designed to tear you up, but it’s at its most stunning when it views the world from the perspective of the parents. Played by Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur, both hearing impaired, it is poignant when they are watching their daughter sing a duet with her boyfriend but can only judge how good it is from the smiles and sniffles of the people around them. At its heart though, just like Bhansali’s movie, CODA is about family. How they can limit us, but also how they can set us free.
For those missing Nimrat Kaur, the talented actress who made everyone sit up and take notice of her in The Lunchbox (2013) will soon be seen after a hiatus in Dasvi, where she plays a Rabri Devi clone from the Hindi heartland. Kaur, who played Tasneem Qureishi, a Pakistani ISI spy, in Showtime’s hit Homeland and an American, Rebecca Yedlin, in Manoj Night Shyamalan’s Wayward Pines (Fox), is now getting ready to play another colour-blind part in Season 2 of the Apple TV+ show, Foundation. Her character’s name in it: Yanna Seldon. Welcome to the new world of diversity.
About The Author
Kaveree Bamzai is an author and a contributing writer with Open
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