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Sonam Bajwa: ‘It is extremely difficult to make people laugh’

This interview was first published in The Telegraph Online by the same author.


As she relishes the growing success of her latest solo lead Punjabi film Godday Godday Cha, actress Sonam Bajwa is also gearing up for the release of her first pan-India release Carry on Jatta 3, co-starring Gippy Grewal. Before embarking on the promotional tour of the first-ever pan-India Punjabi film, the Punjabi star chatted with us about the film, her career, her ambitions and her initial inhibitions.


What are you feeling about your first-ever pan-India release?


Sonam Bajwa: I am very excited but it is also a lot to process. It has been overwhelming to see the response from people, support from the media, and of course, Aamir Khan who launched the trailer of the film. I have a very positive feeling about the film. I’m sure amazing things are going to happen and I’m looking forward to it.


According to you, what is the USP of the Carry On Jatta franchise?


Sonam Bajwa: According to me, the USP is madness. I haven’t seen such madness and confusion in other movies. I think people liked those two things about the first film as well as the second one. And I hope they’ll like the third one as well. I have seen the film while dubbing and it has come out well.


How difficult or easy is it for you to do comedy, especially in the company of Punjabi stalwarts like Gippy Grewal and Gurpreet Ghuggi?


Sonam Bajwa: I have done comedies in the past. It is extremely difficult to make people laugh. We have the greats of comedy from Punjab in this film and this genre of comedy is slightly different from the ones I have done in the past. I am good at comedy but when I was in the company of the actors in this film, I would keep laughing. Most retakes happened because I kept laughing during takes. I told the director Smeep Kang to give me less dialogue and keep me out of the frame whenever possible.


You have acted in films down South and done songs in Hindi films. How do you want to position yourself as an actor in this era of crossovers?


Sonam Bajwa: Of course, as an actor I want a wider audience and a fan base across the globe, not just in India. I know that I might have to do films in languages that are watched by many and Hindi seems to be that language. Having said that, I don’t want to do a film just because that’s the mandate. The parameters of success have changed for me.


I just want to do my work with sincerity irrespective of the language or the industry. If I continue doing good work then why only Bollywood, I can get work in Hollywood too! Punjabi is still a growing industry so not all the genres are explored at the moment. Action and thriller are genres that I want to explore but those kinds of films are not being made in Punjabi. If I get an opportunity to do an actioner in another language, I’ll be happy to do it.


What kind of cinema do you want to do more?


Sonam Bajwa: I love romantic films and I have done many romantic comedies. But I have been eagerly wanting to do an intense love story. I also want to do films with social messages. There was a time in Punjab when women were not allowed to accompany men to baraats, and the groom’s mother was not allowed to attend pheras. My film Godday Godday Cha is a story about a girl who intends to put an end to this ritual.


I will keep on trying to do different stories like this and play different characters. But a hardcore romantic film is at the top of my wish list. I feel that I can do justice to a role like that.


You had some inhibitions about doing Hindi films because of on-screen intimacy. How much has that changed?


Sonam Bajwa: With time, you grow as a human being as well as an actor. When you gain confidence as a person, it reflects in your acting. Earlier I used to be concerned about what my parents would think about intimate scenes. But with time, I have seen my parents grow too. When I realised that they will understand and trust my choices, it boosted my confidence.


Earlier I wouldn’t even audition for a movie if I got to know that there was a kissing scene. Now things have changed because of confidence and understanding. It makes me happy when I see this change in me. You need to have boundaries, sure. But it should not happen that you stop listening to scripts or giving auditions. My parents and friends helped me get over that block in my mind.


Do you feel it’s important to have some mystery around yourself in this age of overexposure because of social media?


Sonam Bajwa: If I was not an actor I probably wouldn’t have been on social media or would have kept my account private. I take photos for professional commitments, post them and that’s all. I use it as a tool to promote my films and endorsements. I don’t post about my family on social media.


Social media has benefitted me because many people got to know about me through social media. I’m grateful for the platform but I have always believed that there should be a boundary.


As an actor, what boxes do you make sure to tick before signing a film?


Sonam Bajwa: Content is most important whether it’s a serious film or a comedy. Carry On Jatta 3 was of course a big franchise and I knew why people would want to watch the film as I had acted in the second part.


As for Godday Godday Cha, I felt that it was a culturally rooted story and people would love to watch it. I am an old soul. I love old things, old music, old sayings, and even old clothes. When I go on a set dressed as a girl from a village, I feel like my true self because I have grown up in a village. That’s why I picked that film.


The director and production house are also important because sometimes you might have a good story but not the right team to execute that film. So, I make sure to tick these boxes before signing a film.

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