‘Qissa Panjab’ by Jatinder Mauhar is a pleasant departure from typical ‘commercial’ or ‘formula’ Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu films being produced in India and Pakistan.
First of all, the two women protagonists do not, at any point in the whole hour-and-a-half long film, appear to be ‘heroines’, ‘actresses’, ‘fashion models’ or ‘prostitutes’- instead they always appear to be who they are supposed to be: two young women from lower middle class making their way through poverty, crime and misogyny in today’s urban and rural Punjab.
Second, the music thing. Yes, there are songs and dances, but each are made to occur ‘naturally’, so to speak. For example, most songs and dances were performed on stage by characters who are singers and dancers; and, there’s a nice recurring theme song by Gurdass Mann.
This same ‘common sense realism’ sets off and permeates the plot, characters and scenes of ‘Qissa Panjab’- and its done very well where there isn’t a dull moment in the film.
The director has achieved an important milestone in creating a real-to-life film for the box office. The film has no pretensions of being an ‘art’ movie made for foreign film festivals and academic institutions, and it does not covet to become a box office hit by employing the usual ‘selling’ tactics of sexualizing women, over-dramatizing or providing solutions palpable to exploitative societal structures.
This is Jatinder Mauhar’s third full-length feature film as a director, earlier he had made ‘Mitti’ (2010) and ‘Sikander’ (2013) where he was also the screenwriter. Jatinder’s short films include ‘No exit’ (2005) and ‘Reth (The Sand)’. He has worked as researcher for the documentary ‘India’s Frontier Railways’ in 2014 for BBC London. He is a regular columnist with over 82 articles published about films, film literacy and current issues for the USA based newspaper Punjab Times, and for other publications in India and abroad.
Jatinder is now working on his fourth film titled ‘Saade Aale’.
‘Qissa Panjab’ was presented in Surrey on December 20th by Sukhwant Hundal and Sadhu Binning for ‘Watan’ where Jatinder Mauhar was in attendance.
View its trailer:
Contact Jatinder Mauhar
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