BATHINDA EXPRESS, the highly anticipated Punjabi feature film which will be releasing soon, is the brainchild of Deep Joshi (former known as Pradeep Joshi) whose previous acting credits include the comedy BURRRAAHH, as well as Gurdas Mann’s SUKHMANI and CHAK JAWANA. With BATHINDA EXPRESS Deep has also turned director, and promises a film that is both entertaining and socially relevant, with a plot that follows a winning athlete whose life takes a turn for the worse.
Barnala born and Ludhiana raised, Deep grew up with a fondness for movies. He would have headed for service in the Indian army or a career with the local constabulary (he went so far as to clear the police exam), “But, God had something else in store for me,” Deep states, and he instead chose to follow his long held dream of working in the filmmaking arena…
…and it is certainly our good fortune that he pursued this vision, as Deep Joshi is determined to help change the face of Punjabi cinema with challenging, engaging, and important stories such as will be seen in BATHINDA EXPRESS.
Having enjoyed Deep’s past work, and now intrigued by the preview of his latest production, I contacted the actor to find out more about the film and its creator and he was kind enough to answer my array of questions for Pedro (The Ape Bomb) blog.
Mike Barnum: You not only star in the soon to be released film BATHINDA EXPRESS, but you have behind-the-scenes duties as well!
Deep Joshi: Actually, as the director, scriptwriter and storywriter too!
MB: Was it difficult to juggle these different tasks?
DJ: On the contrary, I can only wish for the opportunity to get to work this way in all of my future projects, because how else would you have the freedom to shape your movie the way you want. You are not restricted to any particular department. Moreover, this whole film is like my own baby; I was not just acting in it, but making it too. And as they say, if you do what you love, it is not work at all. It was the same with me!
MB: What made you decide to make your own film?
DJ: To take my idea to the next level; I always believed in it, but others didn’t. Sadly, almost all film makers in Punjab today don’t want to explore new ideas, they say it’s too risky! But film-making is an art, and art must always grow and be explored. Hence, after approaching many leading producers and directors for my project and getting rejected, I decided to take things into my own hands and break this pattern.
MB: How important is this film to you, both personally and professionally?
DJ: Personally, as I said earlier, it is entirely my own baby! I have made it by giving my all. Writing it, directing it, casting it, acting in it…this film is one of the most important things in my life. Professionally, again as I had said, hardly anyone in the Punjabi film Industry today wants to explore, they are mainly concerned with financial success. But for a true film-maker it’s an art, and an artist would always want his field to grow and develop. There are so many fresh ideas with the new, aspiring film-makers today, our industry can really grow! I am quite confident that this film will, at least in some way, definitely help break this chain! It’s a unique and independent subject that everyone would be able to relate to and draw something positive from, especially the youth!
MB: You were originally set to go on a different career path, what did your family and friends think about your going into show business?
DJ: Well, they always knew what a big narcissist I had been (laughs)! So they were basically not surprised, but were very happy. Only my Dad wasn’t really happy with the decision, but then he couldn’t say anything directly since I had full support from my grand-father, who is my best friend, philosopher and guide at the same time!
Deep Joshi (left) and Harish Verma in a scene from the Punjabi comedy BURRRAAHH
MB: How did you come up with the story for BATHINDA EXPRESS?
DJ: When I finally decided to take things into my own hands, the first thing I did was muse on a subject that people of Punjab, especially the youth, would not only be able to relate to and enjoy, but one that would create value and inspire. The topics I thought on were current issues of Punjabi youth, their lifestyle; basically an authentic and raw picture of Punjabi youth today!
MB: The film faced censor problems which has held up the film’s release. What was it that the censors objected to?
DJ: They raised objection to a few shots depicting drug addiction. However, I wasn’t ready to compromise on that as everything shot was symbolic, almost near to reality. Second, we are not encouraging viewers to use drugs; rather we are showing them its negative influence. Until we do not do this, people won’t be aware of how this habit can creep in to anyone, and that the addicts actually suffer! I wanted to show the root cause of it and, probably, the way that it can be correctly addressed and cured.
MB: What was the process of casting the film? Did you have certain actors in mind ahead of time or did you rely on casting calls?
DJ: The look and the other traits of the characters in the film were already very clear in my mind from the moment I started writing the story. I did have to take auditions for a few of the characters, but others are all non-actors that I personally knew. And surprisingly, they did complete justice to the roles assigned to them.
MB: Tell me about the lead character, whom you portray in BATHINDA EXPRESS?
DJ: He is the common guy next door. He could be you, me or anyone else out there who is decent, emotional, passionate and full of life, but vulnerable at the same time.
MB: What is your opinion of the state of Punjabi film-making in recent years?
DJ: I would say, not very professional. They don’t work on the script or take the processes of pre-production very seriously. It seems that they would just collect a few jokes and make a film around that. They are not aware of the proper way of film-making, or are not concerned, I would say. Of course, exceptions are there, but unfortunately, very few of them again. It seems to me that they have money, but no vision. Everyone is just following a pattern of other filmmakers.
Deep Joshi in a scene from his upcoming Hindi thriller BLOODY D
MB: You recently completed filming a role for a Hindi thriller titled BLOODY D. Is this your first Hindi film?
DJ: Yes, it is. It is about three young guys who have their own ambitions in life. One is an aspiring director, the other a freelancer cinematographer, and the third one is a financier. All three are optimistic and ambitious; [the film focuses on] their journey and struggles in making their chosen paths in life a success. Again, it is a strong and practical subject, and entertaining too. I won’t be able to talk much about it at this point of time, but it is a good film and people will surely like it.
MB: You have been in at least three previous Punjabi films: BURRAHH, SUKHMANI, and CHAK JAWANA. Which was your favorite to work on?
DJ: All of them honestly, but in SUKHMANI, the character of Bilal is my personal favorite. I played the negative lead against Gurdas Mann; it was challenging and a very different role to play. The director of the film, Manjeet Mann had also worked on the minutest details of this character – starting from his costume, to looks, to attitude, and posture, etc.
MB: Who would you rate as one of your favorite performers to have worked with?
DJ: Gurdas Mann, without a doubt.
MB: As a film fan, who are your favorite film artistes – both Hindi and Punjabi?
DJ: Gurdas Mann, Kamal Hassan, Dilip Kumar, Amir Khan and lots of others
MB: And of yesteryear performers, who would you most liked to have had the opportunity to work with?
DJ: Amrish Puri saab, Dilip Kumar saab, Pran saab.
MB: How about among the current crop of performers?
DJ: Amir khan, Irfan Khan, Pankaj Kapoor
Gurdas Mann with Deep Joshi
MB: Are there any leading ladies who you have dreamt of playing hero to?
DJ: When I was young I always dreamt of working with Urmila Matondkar, and then there is Katrina Kaif, Kareena Kapoor, Deepika Padukone.
MB: Anything else about BATHINDA EXPRESS or BLOODY D that you would like to share?
DJ: Just go and watch them, you won’t regret.
MB: And finally, what is next for you?
DJ: I just hope to continue experimenting with new subjects and to grow as an actor and as a film maker.
Thanks to Deep Joshi for taking the time to share, and I hope you will join me in wishing him great success for what looks to be a fantastic film, BATHINDA EXPRESS! You can check out the trailer below:
And, be sure to look for the BATHINDA EXPRESS Facebook page!