Over to Hindi beat

Spreading wings: Gippy Grewal at The Lalit in New Delhi. Photos: Hrishikesh Bhatt   | Photo Credit: 02dmcGippy

Gippy Grewal has admitted to his guilt. He just had mango shake! One of the biggest names in Punjabi film industry, Grewal reveals he has been on a strict diet for 14 months for his upcoming thriller Faraar. “My trainer has told me even if you follow 99 per cent diet schedule, it amounts to cheating because body demands perfect discipline.” Having said that Grewal also believes that today’s generation doesn’t make body for self-satisfaction. “They make it to please others. Otherwise, how will you explain the trend of taking off the shirt? My trainer can’t match the sheer power of my security guard who tells me he has never been on any diet.”

We meet at 24/7, the all-day dining restaurant of The Lalit for breakfast and Grewal has been given the liberty to try omelette and sausages. “I am naturally skinny but still I have been on a bland diet for months to get the right cuts and for a Punjabi it is difficult.” As the restaurant is almost houseful we move to the adjoining bar to have a leisurely talk.

Many of us might know him as the singer who sang the popular Cocktail number “Angrezi Beat” with Honey Singh for which, according to Grewal, Saif Ali Khan paid a whopping 70 lakhs to get its sync rights. “Earlier Akshay wanted to use it but he was looking for complete rights and as the India, UK and North America rights were with three different companies it was proving to be a very expensive proposition. With sync rights you can’t include the song in the album. You can only use it in the film and use for the promos.”

But for all his success as a singer for Grewal acting has always been his first love. “After ‘Angrezi Beat’ I was offered many songs and films but I wanted to work on my own terms. I didn’t want to let my core audience down.” With Second Hand Husband, releasing this week, Grewal got the opportunity he was looking for. “It is a script that I have nurtured since its birth. It was offered to me for a Punjabi film but I felt that it has the potential to reach out to a large audience. In Punjabi films, the humour is mostly gag-oriented. Here it is situational. And at the core the subject and my character are serious. It is about alimony…how a husband looks for a partner for his ex-wife so he doesn’t have to pay alimony.” Grewal says the script is in the same zone as Tanu Weds Manu where everybody makes fun of the boy, who is in a personal crisis. “The humour is subtle in comparison to the image of Punjabi films. It is like people say that marriage leads to pressure but the real pressure comes after divorce.” As the backdrop is Punjabi, Grewal is confident that he won’t lose his core audience either.

In Second Hand Husband, he got the opportunity to work with Dharmendra, who, in the second half of his career, has thrived on a similar set of audience. “Watching my diet, he repeatedly asked me for some tips. I said I will give him my diet chart and we should have lunch together. He readily agreed but as soon as the desserts arrived, he had seven gulab jamuns in one go. I said ‘I give up. You can’t even have one’. He smiled, ‘Gippy I can’t leave sweets. Kuchh aur bataa!’”

Hailing from a middle-class agricultural background, Grewal has achieved stardom through sheer hard work. Till the turn of the new millennium, he was serving at Delhi’s Surya hotel. “I was always a backbencher in school and was interested in acting and singing. The 90s were bad days for singers. The music companies wanted singers to approach them after making their audio and video for marketing. In the hindsight I can say that their approach helped because it gave me the freedom to shape the videos the way I wanted. I started the trend of videos which started like a story and then culminated into a song. They became show reels of my acting prowess and attracted the producers.”

Going back to his brush with hospitality industry, Grewal recalls, “As my friends were joining hotel management I also decided to give it a try to earn some money to invest in my passion. During the course we were trained to eat everything, even banana, with fork and knife. It was beyond me and could never master it.”

When he joined Surya he was posted in the staff canteen. “On the first day my senior asked me to cut onions. I brought half-a-dozen and started chopping. He said, ‘son bring the whole sack, we have to cook for the 400 odd staff’,” recalls Grewal. “My shoulder ached for a week but I learnt the art. You have to acquire a speed where the other person can’t even see your handing moving while chopping. I was also good at tandoori rotis. In fact I lost all my hair on the arms because of it. However, when I got settled I reminded them that during my stay at the hotel I never came across any customer who ate banana with fork and knife. Why train the staff in something that your customer doesn’t do. It takes away the flavour of the food.”

Grewal knows that Punjabi film industry is falling into the influence of Bollywood and getting stagnated with romantic comedies and different excuses to use Jatt in the title. He and Diljit Dosanjh, the other heart throb of the region, are now looking to experiment. Interestingly, both started together with Mel Karade Rabba where Jimmy Shergill was the hero followed by Jinhe Mera Dil Lutya where the two took charge. “It is difficult to break the popular image but we both know we have a bigger responsibility towards the industry. We might look big sitting in Ludhiana but from Mumbai we are still a very small industry.” Diljit has done 1984, and Grewal says he is doing Lock, where he is playing a character and not a hero.

For now our appetite is eager to be unlocked and we don’t mind a bit of cheating!

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 6:57:43 PM |

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