Behind blockbusters like, Mel Karade Rabba, Jihne Mera Dil Luteya, Yaar Anmulle, and Pure Punjabi, there’s a name that has almost brought a revolution to the Punjabi film industry. Warm, forthcoming, gregarious and a true gentleman, Rajan Batra – a producer and the owner of Batra Showbiz pvt. Ltd., talks to Ballewood about his love for his profession, his views about the Punjabi film industry and of course, about his upcoming Bollywood movie, Teetu MBA..
How did you get interested in Punjabi film industry?
I am basically a stock broker and also have an office in Mumbai. Since 1994, I am into film distribution, so my relationship with film industry isn’t that new. In 2010, I was in my Mumbai office and my friend Mr.Babbi Kant – a producer, who has made movies like “Mujhse Shaadi Karogi’, “Shaadi Karke Phass Gaya” and many more, starring Salman Khan, was planning to produce a Punjabi movie and he wanted my help to shoot in Punjab. Hence, I got into Punjabi film distribution and turned into a producer myself with “Mel Karade Rabba” in 2010. Since then, there’s no looking back.
Punjabi cinema seems to be on the upswing now. How do you see it emerging in times to come?
Well, the future certainly, looks glorious than ever before. There used to be times when Punjabi movies would get released after a gap of six to seven months but now, things have changed a lot. If we talk about this year (2013), already more than 70 movies are on the floor. If this trend continues, then we’re surely going to see a lot of movies’ release dates clashing with each other- something that has never happened before in our ‘ballewood’.
Tell us something about your movies. What kind of genre do you personally like?
As a filmmaker, I believe in producing films of all genres. If you’ve seen our first movie, "Mel Karade Rabba", you would find that it was a romantic/action movie. Then we had "Jihne Mera Dil Luteya" which was a pure comedy. Then there was “Yaar Anmulle” which targeted youth and had the whole campus feel to it. “Pinky Moge Wali”, although it was not a success at the box office, yet we tried something different and then “Pure Punjabi” also offered a story that was different from the league. So, I basically think that we must give the viewers wide variety of content.
What do you think about the ongoing trend of comedy movies in Ballewood?
Comedy is definitely the flavor for the last two years. But the sad part is that comedy is being attempted in a similar way in almost all the movies – with similar storylines, similar characterization, punches and even the same set of actors. I liked “Singh vs Kaur” as it offered something different – action and comedy- basically, pure entertainment. It has been much appreciated for its new styled action, so we can now bend towards something other than comedy.
Tell us something about your upcoming movies?
Our upcoming film, Viyah 70 km is a comedy with a new flavor starring, bollywood actress Aarti Chabria, Geeta zalidar and critically acclaimed Harish Verma besides comedians like Binnu Dhillion and Jaswinder Bhalla. Then we have “Mere Yaar Kaminey” featuring Karan Kundra, Anita Kailey, Inderjit Nikku, Gaurav Kakkar, Isha Rikhi and Kajal Jain. “Mere Yaar Kaminey” will present a story of three married couples with a comic tinge.
What is your message to the new-age filmmakers?
I would just like to tell them that before beginning on their dream project, they must keep in mind that Punjabi film industry is a regional market and here, you have competition with not just Hindi movies, but Hollywood as well. So, the makers should first understand the demand of the market then make movies accordingly. The audience for Punjabi movies is expanding without doubt, still the market has constraints. So, make sure that your product is rich content wise but well within the budget as well.
Who is your favorite Punjabi actor/actress?
I like working with Jimmy Shergill and since, I have done four movies with Neeru Bajwa so she is definitely, my favorite actress. I also had a wonderful experience working with Aarti Chhabria in Viyah 70 km.
What do you think is the role of a producer in making a movie ?
A lot of people think that a producer’s job is only to invest money in a movie project, but I must clarify as that is not quite true. It’s the producer’s vision which when matches with director’s execution, a great film is produced. A producer has to see each part from conceptualization, casting, to distribution and promotion of the movie. From arranging the finances till the very release of the film, a producer has to take care of each and every aspect of the movie.
Are you planning to make a movie in Bollywood as well?
Yes, definitely. We’re coming up with a movie called, ‘Teetu MBA’ (married but available) which will be a sex comedy. Though it’s a Hindi movie yet it will have Punjabi flavor throughout. With this movie, we will be introducing some new faces. The movie will be on the floors by April and hopefully, shall get released by this August.