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Fresh from Punjab!

ANUJ KUMAR
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Cinema Kulraj Randhawa talks about her role in “Yamla Pagla Deewana”

transition time Actor Kulraj Randhawa photo: shiv kumar pushpakar
transition time Actor Kulraj Randhawa photo: shiv kumar pushpakar

O ne of the long-standing stereotypes of our mainstream films is that female actors coming from regional film industries of the North are not considered good enough to play lead roles in mainstream Hindi films. The producers would say she is not glamorous enough or she doesn't have that elusive X-factor that the multiplex audience want. Kulraj Randhawa, a known name in the Punjabi film industry with two back-to-back hits ( Mannat and Tera Mera Ki Rishta), is out to prove the pundits wrong with Yamla Pagla Deewana, where she is the only girl standing between the Deols.

Raising the bar

“Like every stereotype, this one is also giving way. Interestingly, Bollywood never showed such concerns for girls coming from the South! It is, perhaps, because business and market-wise the Punjabi film industry is not as big as cinema from the South. But with creative people who have made a name internationally returning to roots, the Punjabi film industry is on the rise. Directors like Manmohan Singh (as a cinematographer he has shot films like Chandni and Dil to Pagal Hai) have raised the bar. The films I worked in had Jimmy Shergill, Raj Babbar and Anupam Kher as co-stars. So the difference isdiminishing,” says Kulraj, who was also seen in a small role in Chintuji. “Also, I had the advantage of starting my career with a popular Hindi television series like Kareena Kareena. So I always had the recall value for the Hindi film audience.” Kulraj says she got offers from Bollywood after Kareena Kareena but she was not sure of taking the plunge.

“I feel the TV setup was quite different from the way a feature film is mounted. I wanted to be confident of my skills. That was one of the reasons for signing Punjabi films apart from the fact that I was comfortable with the language and wanted to give something back to my community.”

But what chance does she stand in the film devoted to the Deols? “See, they can't play the female part. So they can't step into my shoes! They are three pillars who will hang around me. Kulraj is playing a photographer, who comes to Benaras to shoot some pictures for a coffee-table book. “In Benaras she gets hooked to a thief, played by Bobby. It is a romantic role with a little bit of comedy.”

Kulraj says she wants to carve out her own niche in an industry where it is difficult to distinguish one actor from the other from the way they dress up. “I don't want to take the route of skin show. I am looking for more dramatic roles.”

ANUJ KUMAR

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