Against the current

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With bold and beautiful actress Gul Panag playing a strong character in her debut Punjabi film, Sarsa – directed by critically acclaimed young filmmaker Jatinder Mauhar – it is only obvious to expect a defining film in Punjabi cinema, which still lacks in the script department. “The film has a strong storyline based on youth politics in Punjab, it portrays an upright woman’s struggle,” says the vivacious 33-year-old actress while talking about the film along with director Jatinder in Chandigarh on Saturday.
She informs that the film’s protagonist, Beant (played by her), lives life on her own terms and challenges every conflict that comes her way. “She has the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. She also believes that the disillusionment among youngsters is rooted in a hostile political culture, the deep irrational voids within the society and the insensitivity of educational institutions,” says Gul.
She informs that while the film is expected to release in September this year, they are also trying to send it to the Toronto Film Festival and other major international festivals. But she is quick to add, “This does not mean that the film falls in the art-film genre. It’s a film for the masses made with a belief that a commercial film can also go beyond entertainment. For instance, last year American film Drive, which was commercially very successful, also won rave reviews at Cannes Film Festival.”
Mauhar too feels that a mainstream film can initiate a dialogue in society. “Entertainment can be engaging too and that is what we have tried in Sarsa,” says Mauhar, who adds, “The title has been inspired by the river, Sarsa, which is a symbol of upheaval in Punjab. The film, therefore, is a metaphorical representation of this symbol – of fierce energy that turns into a contemporary conflict of individuals, caught in their own circumstantial dilemmas.”
Mauhar, who directed Punjabi film Mitti in 2010, says that the strong point of the film is its script and characterisation. “I can safely say that such a strong woman character has not been presented in Punjabi cinema before,” he adds.
On this, Gul – who is learning flying these days – says that she was offered many Punjabi scripts but she did not like most of them. “This film has the kind of story which goes well with my ideology and thought process,” says the actress who was last seen in Hindi film, Turning 30.
About her upcoming Hindi films, she informs that she has just wrapped up the sequel of Ab Tak Chappan and will start shooting for another Hindi film in October.

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