A blockbuster rom-com is all set to become the first Punjabi movie to get a Bollywood makeover.
If you aren’t an avid Punjabi movie buff, chances are that you’ve missed a pretty fun movie.
Of course, Jatt and Juliet seems like just another rom-com and we’ve got dozens of those. Throw together a pair of zealous, earnest, misguided lovers; a plot that’s not altogether new; a few catchy songs and the right mix of sniffles and giggles, and you’ve got a pleasant enough movie.
Like I said, it’s business as usual. But there’s something about Jatt and Juliet. Something that resulted in an unexpectedly thumping box-office success; something that has made Bollywood look up and take notice.
Everyone appreciates a good story and, in a country as diverse and multilingual as India, these stories don’t usually share the same language. For years now, Bollywood has borrowed quite a bit from the south, remaking everything from thrillers to rom-coms. Now, with Jatt and Juliet, it’s turned to the north for a little inspiration. Jatt and Juliet has become the first Punjabi movie whose rights have been bought by Bollywood.
As a story, there is nothing new: a mismatched pair starts out by hating each other, keeps meeting unexpectedly, is thrown together due to unforeseeable situations and slowly realises that the hate was, as it always seems to be in movies, true and lasting love. Of course, there are twists, turns, other women and bank repossessions in the picture.
It is a formula that has worked well before but, with Jatt and Juliet, it reached altogether new heights. Perhaps it was a combination of some great acting by Neeru Bajwa and newcomer Daljit Dosanjh, a good script and a fresh, feel-good vibe, or something else that’s hard to define; whatever the reasons, the fact remains that even before its release, the movie’s trailer had become the most watched Punjabi movie promo on YouTube.
Post-release, Jatt and Juliet was easily the biggest selling movie in Punjab. It saw a historic opening, with 100 per cent occupancy, shattering all previous Punjabi film records and collected Rs.2.27 crores in the first week. It also made excellent collections outside the state and the country.
By the end of four weeks, the movie was declared both a commercial and a critical success, much to the pleasant surprise of its makers who admit that, while they had hopes for Jatt and Juliet, the movie has far exceeded their expectations.
As far as the Hindi movie industry is concerned, Jatt and Juliet is about to undergo a transformation. The rights to the film have been secured by singer, composer, actor and producer Himesh Reshammiya’s company, HR Musik. Reshammiya, together with Rakesh Upadhyay, will be remaking the Punjabi blockbuster on a much grander scale. In Bollywood, this seems inevitable, though perhaps a little dangerous too, since part of the movie’s charm seems to lie in its simplicity. The team has, however, signed on the original film’s director, Anurag Singh, to direct the remake. Upadhyay also confirms that the remake will keep the plot of Jatt and Juliet intact.
“The basic plot is so endearing that it needs no embellishment in Hindi,” he says. Together, Reshammiya and Upadhyay have just released their comic caper, Khiladi 786, and, already, the grapevine has Askhaye Kumar pegged as the lead in this new project. Rumour or fact? Upadhyay has refrained from commenting on the case, leaving movie lovers with the tantalising promise that the remake will see an A-list cast.
Even the harshest critic will not be able to deny that the overall quality of Punjabi films has seen massive improvement. “Be it scripts or technical aspects, the industry has come a long way in last few years,” says Punjabi filmmaker Manmohan Singh. “These changes have not gone unnoticed by Bollywood. Earlier, most scripts used to revolve around NRI and Punjab-related issues.”
Already, actors like Akshaye Kumar, Jimmy Shergill, Neha Dhupia and Salman Khan are making their debut as actors and producers in the Punjabi film industry. It also helps that most Punjabi and Hindi filmmakers treat entertainment as their key ingredient. This makes the symbiosis of the two both easy and optimal.
With Jatt and Juliet, though, the stakes are high, and it remains to be seen whether the remake will be able to spin the same magic that the original already has.