Diljit Dosanjh may already be a household name in Punjabi cinema, but the actor is carving a niche in Bollywood too. Despite his immense stardom, which means roles being written especially for him by the biggest of production houses in the industry, the man himself remains quiet and exceptionally humble. He also hasn’t forgotten his roots, hoping to do at least one Punjabi film a year.
Congratulations on your hit, Good Newwz. What was your reaction when you were first offered a film on In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)?
To be honest, mujhe toh pata bhi nahin tha yeh kya hota hai (I didn't even know what this was)!
But your producer Karan Johar just had twins using this procedure!
Achcha? Chalo ji, tab toh yeh ghar ki baat hui. (Really? Oh, then this is a family matter). I feel Good Newzz is a socially relevant comedy about two childless couples played by Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor, and Kiara Advani with me. There are so many childless couples these days trying so hard to have children.
Lately there have been significant movies on themes like Tamara Jenkins’ Private Life and Harry Wootlif’s Only You?
Maine yeh filmein nahin dekhi (I haven’t watched these films), but when I heard the script for Good Newwz, I immediately warmed up. I got a chance to work with Akshay Paaji. Bada mazaa aaya (It was great fun). Shooting with Akshay Paaji is like a picnic. I didn’t realise when it began and when it ended.
Was Kareena Kapoor Khan another incentive for doing Good Newwz?
She’s a favourite, everyone knows that. I’ve had the privilege of working with her in two films. In my first Hindi film Udta Punjab, she was cast opposite me. But in Good Newwz she’s with Akshay Paaji, so we have less scenes together.
Your single ‘Kylie + Kareena’ is a hit. One doesn’t know if Kylie Jenner has heard it, but Kareena certainly did.
I am truly happy that Kareena ji noticed my song and liked it. It was just something I composed on a whim because both Kylie and Kareena had the letter ‘K’ in common. So I put the song together for my two krushes.
What do you think of Kareena complaining that you don’t talk much?
Woh kya hai jee (The thing is), they talk in English on the sets. Main beech mein Hindi mein bolu toh achcha nahin lagta (It’s not appropriate if I speak in Hindi in the middle). But from now I’ll definitely make an effort to speak to her. She makes me nervous. Itni badi star hain (she’s such a huge star), but no airs at all. Udta Punjab was my first Hindi film, and she could have easily said no to being paired with someone who was unknown in Hindi cinema. But she agreed to work with me. I learnt so much just being around her.
What went wrong with your last Hindi film Arjun Patiala?
I don’t know, sir ji, lekin kuch toh gadbad ho gayi (something went awry). The comedy didn’t work. No, that film was not happening.
Does failure disappoint you?
Failure kisse pasand hai (Who likes failure)? But I am not new to this business, I have been singing and acting for 10 years. I can live without acting, but I can’t live without singing. My live concerts are my lifeline. When I’m there on stage, I feel the direct and immediate love of my fans. I feel I am communicating with my audience. It’s a feeling that no other form of expression can replace.
How does it feel to have your wax figure at Madame Tussaud’s? And to be the first turbaned Sikh to get his own statue there?
I am still pinching myself. When I got that call from them (Tussaud’s) informing me that they want to do my statue, my response was ‘Mera kyun (Why mine)?
What have I achieved?’
Before me, another Sikh Milkha Singh ji was honoured at Tussaud’s, but his statue did not have him in a turban. So I think I’m the first turbaned Sardar to be featured at Tussaud’s. I am humbled by all the love I get from all over the world.
Do you feel your reach is restricted in Bollywood since you can only play Sardar roles?
I know I am a turbaned Sardar, I can only play Sardar roles. Either that or producers should be willing to alter the script to accommodate my physical appearance. But I won’t call this a restriction. It is my good fortune that I am the first Sikh to be playing lead roles in Bollywood Hindi films.
What about your presence in Punjabi films?
Oh, that will never stop. No matter how busy I get, I will do at least one Punjabi movie every year. It’s a promise I’ve made to myself.