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The Punjabi Cinema is the Punjabi language film industry in the states of Punjab in India and Pakistan. The first Punjabi film to be released was in the provincial capital of the Pakistani Punjab Lahore, its called Lollywood and is based in the city. This article deals with Punjabi Cinema in India.

It has been generally called Punjwood, a portmanteau of Punjab and Hollywood, similar to the general Indian film-industry term Bollywood (Bombay and Hollywood); or, alternately, Pollywood. However, both terms are of disputed origins.

As of 2009, Punjwood has produced between 900 and 1,000 movies. The average number of releases per year in the 1970s was nine; in the 1980s, eight; and in the 1990s, six. In 1995, the number of films released was 11; it plummeted to seven in 1996 and touched a low of five in 1997. Since 2000s the Punjabi cinema has seen a revival with more releases every year featuring bigger budgets, home grown stars as well as bollywood actors of punjabi descent taking part.

Contents

First film

K.D. Mehra made the first Punjabi film Sheila (also known as Pind di Kudi). Baby Noor Jehan was introduced as an actress and singer in this film. Sheila was made in Calcutta and released in Lahore, the capital of Punjab; it ran very successfully and was a hit across the province. Due to the success of this first film many more producers started making Punjabi films.[1] K.D. Mehra then made his second film, Heer Sial, in which M.M. Billoo Mehra assisted him. This film had new artists Balo and M. Ismail and Baby Noor Jehan. This film was also commercially successful.[2]

Due to the vast Punjabi community in Lahore and Punjab, these soon became significant Punjabi-language film markets. Studios opened up and many artists, producers, directors, and technicians from Bombay and Calcutta shifted to Lahore. Some prominent names were Shanta Apte, Motilal, Chandra Mohan, Hiralal, Noor Jehan, Mumtaz Shanti, Wali, Syed Attahullah Shah Hashmi, Krishna Kumar and Shanker Hussain. Many journalists like B.R. Chopra, Ramanand Sagar has also settled in Lahore, where B.R. Chopra was running his film magazine Cine Herald. Ramanand Sagar was associated with Evening News and Syed Attahullah Shah Hashmi took out the film paper Adakar.

Punjabi Partition

In 1947, India was divided into two parts: India and Pakistan - Punjab itself was split between the two nations, West Punjab becoming part of Pakistan and East Punjab become part of India. This greatly affected Punjabi cinema because most Muslim artists and directors, along with most of the Muslim population, moved to Pakistan, and made it big in Lollywood. While Sikhs and Hindus moved to Mumbai.

1950s

Many attempts were made to keep Indian Punjabi cinema alive. Film-makers made films like Posti, Do Lachhian, Bhangra, etc. Some of them succeeded. Movies like Posti and Do Lachhian were hits but weren't able to revive Punjabi cinema. And to specify why such movies became hits, there is only one reason: the music and songs. The songs of movies would run for months and years on Radio. So people became interested and really wanted to watch the films. But many didn't enjoy Punjabi films that much.

Post-Partition, the trend of comedies continued. One of the hit comedies was Mulkh Raj Bhakhri’s Bhangra (1958), starring Sundar and Nishi. It was remade by Mohan Bhakhri as Jatti in 1980 with Mehar Mittal and Aparna Chowdhry, and once again it was a great commercial success. In fact Bhangra’s music (Hansraj Behl, who introduced Asha Bhonsle) and lyrics (Verma Malik) became immensely popular. Songs sung by Shamshad and Rafi like Batti balkay banere utte rakhdi han, rah bhul na jave chann mera and Chitte dand hasnon nayion rehnde were on everybody’s lips. Similarly, Johnny Walker-starrer Vilayati Babu was a hit and was later remade with the same name featuring Mehar Mittal in the lead role and Amitabh Bachchan in a guest appearance.

1960s

In 1964 released a big-budget romantic Punjabi film of Padam Prakash Maheshwary titled "Satluj de Kande". This film had big stars like Balraj Sahni, Nishi, Wasti, and Mirza Musharraf and music by Hansraj Behl. This was the only Punjabi Film by Balraj Sahni and was a super hit and it also earned a National Film Award. "Satluj de Kande" was telecast thrice on National Channel of Doordarshan (Indian National TV channel).

Then in 1969 released religious film Nanak Naam Jahaz Hai. Starring Prithviraj Kapoor, IS Johar, Vimmi, Som Dutt, Nishi, Suresh, David. The film was a direct ducces. The film was the first really major successful Punjabi film in Post-Independent India with a major cultural impact on Punjabi Sikhs at home and abroad and is credited with the revival of the Punjabi Film Industry in India. People stood in km long lines to buy a ticket for the film.

1970s

After Nanak Naam Jahaz Hai, movies started releasing in huge number. Hindi movie actors (who where from Punjabi descent) got interested in Punjabi movies. The next year saw releases such as Kankan De Ole (Dharmendra, Asha Parekh and Ravindra Kapoor), Nanak Dukhiya Sab Sansar (Dara Singh, Balraj Sahni, Ram Mohan & Asha Sachdev). 1971 saw no major releases. Again in 1972, Dara Singh starred in a movie. This time he paired with Prithviraj Kapoor in Mele Mitran De. 1973 saw only one major release Man Jeete Jag Jeet. This film starred Sunil Dutt, Radha Saluja and Ranjeet in lead roles. Again it was a religious film. 1974 saw many releases like Do Sher (Dharmendra & Rajendra Kumar), Bhagat Dhanna Jatt (Dara Singh & Feroz Khan), Sacha Mera Roop Hai (Manmohan Krishan) and Dukh Bhanjan Tera Naam (Shaminder Singh & Radha Saluja). The best of them was Dukh Bhanjan Tera Naam. This could have two reasons:

  1. Because its a religious historical film or
  2. It had many special appearances from Bollywood superstars: Sunil Dutt, Rajendra Kumar, Dharmendra, Johnny Walker, Dara Singh etc.

The year 1975 saw 1 major release: Teri Meri Ek Jindri. Along with Dharmendra this movie introduced his cousin brother Veerendra. 1976 saw many releases: Daaj (1976) Giddha (1976), Main Papi Tum Bakhshanhaar (1976), Papi Tarey Anek (1976), Santo Banto (1976), Sardar-E-Azam (1976), Sawa Lakh Se Ek Ladaun (1976), Taakra (1976), Yamla Jatt (1976). Sawa Lakh Se Ek Ladaun was the biggest hit and starred Dara Singh. This movie ran into conflict with the Sikh political parties as the film had Khalsa Fauj soldiers wearing fake beards. The year 1977 wasn't a major one. Jai Mata Di, Saal Solvan Chadya, Sat Sri Akal, Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha released amongst others. Saal Solvan Chadya was a highlight because of the cameo-appearance by Rekha. Sat Sri Akal was another hit film. It starred Sunil Dutt, Shatrughan Sinha and Premnath in lead roles. In 1978 where released Udeekan, Dhyani Bhagat, Jai Mata Sheranwali, Jindri Yar Di etc. Udeekan was a drama film and was a hit. The first ever remake in Punjabi cinema was released in 1978. The film was Walayati Babu. It was remade from an older Punjabi film with the same name by Johnny Walker. The film is famous because the special appearance given by Amitabh Bachchan. 1979 was a big year. In this year movies like Guru Manio Granth, Jatt Punjabi, Kunwara Mama, Sukhi Pariwar, Til Til Dalekha released. Guru Manio Granth was a religious film and an instant hit. Jatt Punjabi had a big cast + special appearance by Manoj Kumar was a hit. Til Til Da Lekha was a hit. It won Punjab State Govt. award for Best Story Writer and Second Best feature film 1979. The first mystery film released, Vangaar (The Challenge). It failed to become a hit.

1980s

In 1980, the first Punjabi film to have achieved the national award was released. That film was Chann Pardesi. It starred Raj Babbar, Rama Vij, Amrish Puri, Om Puri and Kulbhusun Kharbanda. Chann Pardesi is the biggest hit of that time. Another film Fauji Chacha was also a hit. Fauji Chacha had veteran actor of Bollywood Sanjeev Kumar in the lead as the Fauji Chacha. A remake of Mulkh Raj Bhakhri’s Bhangra (1958), starring Sundar and Nishi was remade by Mohan Bhakhri as Jatti in 1980 with Mehar Mittal and Aparna Chowdhry. As the original, this remake also was an tremendous succes. [3]

1981 saw only one hit: Balbiro Bhabhi. This film has Veerendra in the lead role.

1985 saw two major releases: Ucha Dar Babe Nanak Da and Sarpanch. The former was a religious film that established Gurdas Mann as a star. Sarpanch starred Veerendra.

In 1983, many movies released, with Putt Jattan De the biggest commercially.

1988 saw another hit from Veerendra in the form of Yaari Jatt Di. This film was the first one to be shot more than 50% in U.K.. Mamla Garbar Hai again was a hit given by Gurdas Mann. The film's songs where especially loved.

1985 saw two hit films. One was Mohammad Sadiq's Guddo. The other was Veerendra's Vairi.

1986 saw one major hit in the form of Long Da Lishkara, starring Raj Babbar, Gurdas Mann, Om Puri, and Nina Deol.

In 1987 two hits from Veerendra were Patola and Jor Jatt Da. Punjab was shaken with the assassination of Veerendra during the filming of Jatt Tey Zameen. The backbone of Punjwood was dead, opening the door to supporting actors such as Gugu Gill & Yograj Singh to take leading roles.

1988 saw no major films. In 1989 came the critically acclaimed Marhi Da Diva. The film starred Raj Babbar, Pankaj Kapur, Kanwaljeet Singh, Parikshit Sahni and Deepti Naval.

1990s

1990 saw one major releases. Qurbani Jatt Di (Gugu Gill, Yograj Singh, Gurdas Mann, Dharmendra, Raj Babbar & Priti Sapru) directed by Preeti Sapru herself, film turned out to be hit at the box office. Second release was Dushmani Di Agg which was last film of Veerendra also starring Gurdas Mann and Priti Sapru; it also did well at the box office 1991 saw a major film in Anakh Jattan Di starring Diljit Kaur,(Gugu Gill. It was the first movie where the people really accepted ex-villain Gugu Gill as a hero. The film was followed by films like Jor Jatt Da, which also managed to recover its cost. But it was Badla Jatti Da which turned out to be major success of the year. It starred Gugu Gill, Yograj Singh (in a villain role) and Aman Noorie. Udeekan Saun Diyan got critical acclaim, but not a commercial success. Sounh Menoo Punjab Di starring Satish Kaul, Rama Vij, Mehar Mittal and Pal Randhawa was also one of releases of the year. The film was directed by Sukhdev Ahluwalia, one of the most successful director's of Punjwood and had Hit music by Surinder Kohli.

1992 had film like Vaisakhi starring Deep Dhillon & Sunita Dheer. It got critical acclaim but not commercial success. Jatt Jeona Morh turned out to be major hit of the year and made Gugu Gill a big superstar in Punjwood. Also released Yograj Singh's Jagga Daku, which did some moderate business. Film like Guggu Gill & Amar Noori's Dil Da Mamla(not to be mistaken as gurdas maan's mamla garbarh hai) flopped at the box office.

1993 had films like Jatt Sucha Singh Soorma (Yograj Singh and Neena Sidhu), Mirza Sahiban (Gugu Gill), Lalkara Jatt Da, Saali Adhi Gharwali. These films managed to do quite fine business, but were not major success. Preeti Sapru's Mehndi Shagnan Di (Malkit Singh, Hansraj Hans, Preeti Sapru and Yograj Singh) was a losing project for her. Kudi Canada Di (starring Yograj Singh) also flopped.

1994 had Kachehri (Gurdas Mann, Yograj Singh, etc), which not only got critical but also commercial success, later it even won a national award. Second release was Tabahi starring a newcomer Vishal Singh, which was the Blockbuster hit of the year.Guggu Gill's Vairi also did quite well at the box office. But film like Jigra Jatt Da (Yograj Singh as villain) flopped at box office.

1995 had Naseebo & Qahar, both starring Kimi Verma and got critical acclaim, but not commercial success. Naseebo managed somehow managed to recover its cost. Pratigya starring (Gugu Gill, Gurdas Mann, Preeti Sapru & Dara Singh did well at the box office. The same Year Zaildaar (Yograj Singh), Nain Preeto De (Yograj Singh) & Sir Dhad Di Baazi did well. Gurdas Mann's Baghawat could not do that well. Jakhmi Jagirdar, Mera Punjab amongst others also flopped.

1996 was the beginning of Punjabi cinema's decline. Only the film Sukha (starring Vishal Singh) did well at the box office. Rest of films like Deson Pardeson, Dhee Jatt Di (Upasana Singh, Gurkirtan and Shivinder Mahal), Vichoda (Yograj Singh), Gawahi Jatt Di, Jorawar etc all flopped at the box office. Dara Singh, Vindoo, Farha's Rabb Diyan Rakhan too flopped.

1997 saw films like Mela, Truck Driver, Sardari, Preetan De Pehredaar, Pachtaawa etc all being flopped at the box office. Even Gugu Gill's films were flopping. Train to Pakistan was mixture of Hindi & Punjabi, but it was later dubbed into Punjabi (but it was meant for film festivals rather than for cinema release).

1998 saw Gugu Gill's Purja Purja Kat Mare, Dara Singh, Ravinder Maan and Vishal's Laali, Kalbhooshan Kharbanda and Tanuja's Dildaara, Suche Moti etc being flopped. Even big budget film like Sarbans Daani Guru Gobind Singh too flopped.Critically acclaimed Main Maa Punjab Dee later got National award, but in the beginning, it was not a big Hit and later Main Maa Punjab Dee has been telecasted on National network Doordarshan maximum times and no Punjabi film has been shown on National Television repeatedly in past like Main Maa Punjab Dee . But 1998 ends with positive note as Jaspal Bhatti's Mahaul Theek Hai became an instant hit in Punjabi cinema. It was the first big hit after films like Jatt Jeona Morh (1991) and Badla Jatti Da (1992).

1999 saw a rise, after Mahaul Theek Hai, Gurdas Mann & Divya Dutta's Shaheed e Mohabbat, which not only got critical but also commercial success. Avinash Wadhwan and Upasana Singh starring Teriyan Mohabbatan, Gugu Gill, Pankaj Dheer, Preeti Sapru, Manjit Kular, Upasana Singh starring Muqqadar, Tera Mera Pyar, Nadiyon Vichde Neer, Door Nahin Nankana,Ishq Nachave Gali Gali(Randeep Virender, Manjeet Kullar, Deepak Saraf, Neeru Singh, Surinder Sharma) etc all flopped at the box office. Rajniti, which was also made in Hindi, also flopped. Just like 1998, 1999 also ends with positive note as Raj Babbar's Shaheed Udham Singh did well. So 1999 was having two major hits Shaheed e Mohabbat and Shaheed Udham Singh with critical acclaim.

2000s

After that in 2000 there was just single release Dard Pardesan De starring Avinash Wadhawan, Upasana Singh, Paramveer, Deepshikha, which flopped badly in Punjab, but did very well overseas.

In 2001 movie such as Sikandra and Jagira were released. Avinash Wadhawan and Ayesha Jhulka starred in Khalsa Mero Roop Hai Khaas (2001), released in the overseas market but not in Punjab.

In 2002 released Jee Ayan Nu. Singer-turned actor Harbhajan Mann acted and it was directed by cinematographer-turned director Manmohan Singh. The movie was made on a big budget for Punjwood - 90 lakhs, as compared to a more typical 20-50 lakhs.

2003 saw movies such as Badla.

Then in 2004, Asa Nu Maan Watna Da released. Again singer-turned actor Harbhajan Mann acted in it and it was directed by cinematographer-turned director Manmohan Singh.

2005 saw movies including Jija Ji, Des Hoyaa Pardes, Main Tu Assi Tussi, Yaaran Naal Baharan, and Nalaik.

The following year (2006) saw the movies Dil Apna Punjabi (again pairing Harbhajan and Manmohan), Ek Jind Ek Jaan and Warish Shah.

2007 saw the movies Rustam-e-Hind, and Mitti Wajan Mardi (Harbhajan and Manmohan ).

2008 saw a significant number of movies such as Yaariyan, Mera Pind, Lakh pardesi hoye, Heaven on earth and Sat sri akal.

In 2009, Jag jeodeye deh mele became a hit, while Tera mera ki Ristha with Jimmy Shergill has broken Punjabi box-office records. Another movie, Munde U.K. De with Jimmy Shergill, directed by Manmohan Singh was released.

With renewed interest, the Punjabi cinema has seen a revival with more releases every year featuring bigger budgets, home grown stars as well as bollywood actors of punjabi descent taking part

National Award-winners

Satluj De Kande (1964) and Nanak Naam Jahaaz Hai Directed by Panna Lal Maheshwari (1969) won the National Award's Certificate of Merit.

Best feature film awards were won by Chann Pardesi Directed by Chitrarth (1980), Marhi Da Deeva Directed by Surinder Singh (1989), Kachehari (1994), Main Maa Punjab Dee written and Directed by Balwant Dullat (1998), Shaheed-E-Mohabbat Directed by Manoj Punj (1999), Shaheed Udham Singh Directed by Chitrarth (2000) and Des Hoya Pardes (2005).

Punjwood stars

See also

References

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