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Cover Story

Neeru Bajwa: The Queen of Punjabi Cinema

By Petrina D’Souza, 17 Jul, 2019

    "I truly believe I am God’s child. I never imagined to have such a long career as an actress, considering all the stereotypes in our industry and it being male-dominated. I feel blessed that I’m still working today.”


    She is gorgeous, talented and inspiring! Ace actress Neeru Bajwa continues to charm audiences with her interesting films and versatile roles. Her passion and hardwork has led her to becoming the most successful and popular actress in the Punjabi film industry. Her love for movies is endless; as a producer, she delivers tasteful films that play a vital role in the growth of the Punjabi entertainment sector. What is amazing is that despite playing multiple roles, personally and professionally, Neeru lives a balanced life. This is a remarkable feat for an actress who is constantly in the limelight. This fine balance is only possible if one is strong-headed, experienced and immune to negativity. Neeru is an inspiration to many, not just as an accomplished actress but as a genuine human being who values her work just as much as her personal life.

    Neeru describes her journey as a “miracle” and is grateful for all the opportunities that came her way. “I truly believe I am God’s child. I never imagined to have such a long career as an actress, considering all the stereotypes in our industry and it being male-dominated. I feel blessed that I’m still working today.”

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    A post shared by Neeru Bajwa (@neerubajwa) on Jul 17, 2019 at 10:06pm PDT

    She is God’s child indeed. As one of the “pioneers of the industry,” Neeru has worked with talented actors, artists, directors and producers since the start of the industry. “Everyone’s first films were with me,” she says. Though the talented actress has worked hard to achieve success, Neeru mentions that her experience as the leading woman in the industry has been struggle-free. In fact, she points out that the Punjabi film industry is immensely welcoming of female talent. “I think a lot of actresses in the Punjabi film industry will agree with me that it’s different in Punjab; there’s an immense respect for female actors and artists. Everyone has a great sense of respect for me and I appreciate it as well.”

    Talking about Neeru’s recent film, Shadaa broke all the opening week records. It has become one of the highest grossing Punjabi films of all time and continues to delight viewers with its funny plot. The film starring Diljit Dosanjh and Neeru revolves around a young man seeking a bride amidst pressures from his parents to get married soon. He finally meets the woman of his dreams but things do not go as planned. Neeru plays a 31-year-old unmarried girl from Punjab, the love interest of Diljit’s character, who doesn't want to get married but is criticised for making such a choice. Movie-lovers have enjoyed the pairing of Neeru and Diljit in the past, especially in the superhit Jatt and Juliet, and were eagerly hoping to see this pair on the big screen again.

    The film’s leading lady is elated with the response. “We wanted to make a film completely to entertain the audience. We wanted everyone to have a good time and laugh. That’s what we set out to do and that’s what we’ve achieved,” says Neeru, revealing that she signed the film because of the its creative team. “I didn’t even hear the whole story till the first day of the shoot. I’ve worked with Jagdeep Sidhu [director of Shadaa] many times and he is a very talented director-actor. So there was no reason not to do the film, and it was perfect.” On the mention of Jatt and Juliet, Neeru states that the film has been a milestone for her and for the whole industry. “I did so well that things really changed. It changed the whole outlook of the Punjabi film industry business-wise,” she expresses, further stating her debut Punjabi film Asa Nu Maan Watna Da as another milestone.

    Neeru has always portrayed strong and versatile roles on the big screen. Her connect with powerful roles is so visible that filmmakers create roles especially for her. “They write roles keeping me in mind and they are always strong roles. I try to do roles that are strong because I want to set a good example for girls watching me and my daughter herself.” Besides powerful roles, Neeru is inclined towards entertaining films with a good plot. “For me the story is number one. I would gladly do a five-minute role in a film if it has an impact. Also, I love entertaining films. Every time I sign a film, it doesn’t matter what the impact of the film it, it has to be entertaining because when I myself step into the theatre I want to be entertained,” says the Vancouver-based actress.

    I ask her if she is aspires to do Bollywood films and Neeru calmly says, “No, I don’t have that ambition. If something A Grade comes my way, I will 100 per cent do it and I know that about all the other actresses in the industry. But I’m not knocking on anyone’s doors.” Sharing her thoughts further, Neeru states that she would always choose an A Grade Punjabi film over a B Grade Bollywood film. “I always say that I am the queen of my castle. I get the respect and roles that I want to do. Why would I do something crappy for no reason?” She asserts that Punjabi actors don’t need the validation of Bollywood. “Our actors are equally talented but it’s a different ballgame in Bollywood. It’s okay if they don’t [get offers from Bollywood], that doesn’t mean they’re less talented.” Neeru says the filmmaking process in both industries is the same, what sets Bollywood and the Punjabi movie industry apart is the gap in finances. “I think the only difference is money. Bollywood have a lot of money to make films with. Our industry is still relatively new; we’re just about 15 years old. We don’t get that many theatres as Bollywood films do.”

    A similar factor that all Bollywood and Punjabi actors have to deal with is unsuccessful films and negative criticism. Neeru understands that the success or failure of any film is unknown. “Some of the films do well, and some don’t. You don’t set out to make an unsuccessful film. We all work very hard and I have respect for everybody I’ve worked with.” Female actors are also body-shamed but Neeru does not let the negativity get to her. “Some people age-shame me too. It doesn’t matter to me. We’ve put ourselves out there and we should be thick-skinned enough to take the criticism as well as the praise.

    Neeru’s role as a producer has garnered her praise. Neeru Bajwa Entertainment is known to produce films that are not only entertaining but have a special connect with audiences. Starting a production house was not something Neeru planned in advance; it was an impromptu idea that materialized into something significant. “It happened at the airport in Chandigarh,” narrates the actor-producer, “my business manager came up with an idea and my husband said let’s produce it ourselves. That’s how it began. It was my passion and love for filmmaking that made me take the step.”

    Neeru's latest production, Munda Hi Chahida, released on July 12. Starring Harish Verma and Rubina Bajwa, the movie is a light-hearted take on the patriarchal structure and thinking of the society. “Munda hi chahida is a dialogue that everyone’s heard in their lives. It exists in every class and among educated people as well. I know so many educated women that feel the pressure of having a son. And to what extent a person goes to have a son is kind of what the film is about,” explains Neeru who decided to do the film because she connected with the story personally. “I have two sisters. When my youngest sister Rubina was born, no one in the family was happy besides my parents. I’ve actually seen and witnessed it. And even me having a daughter, I don’t think she’s any less than a son. I’m not saying that having a son is bad but putting girls down is what I’m against. And that’s why I wanted to do this film. It meant a lot to me.”

    The film has already created a buzz among film-lovers. “I’ve had so many girls and mothers tell me that they connect with the story,” says the young producer, who adds that she is blessed to have an amazing production team that is completely involved in the creative process from start to finish. Neeru Bajwa Entertainment regularly works with new talents and fresh ideas to create appealing productions. “In Munda Hi Chahida, you’ll see a lot of fresh casting. There are younger and older girls and they’re all new to the film industry,” shares Neeru. Post Munda Hi Chahida, another production, Koka starring Neeru and Gurnam Bhullar goes on floor mid-July. It’s about a story of a younger man and an older woman and the stereotype associated with the relationship,” reveals Neeru. She believes that such social films are very relevant in today’s time. “Even though it is entertainment, it’s very real and does happen, and people can connect with it.”

    Another role that Neeru very beautifully plays is that of a mother to her four-year-old daughter Aanaya. “The proudest moment in my personal life is my daughter. I’m so proud of being a mother and so proud of having her, she’s my greatest achievement,” says the doting mother. So how does Neeru manage to balance her personal and professional life so exceptionally? The credit she says goes to her husband, Harry Jawandha. “I have an awesome husband; he is my best friend and is very supportive. I couldn’t just balance my career, family and home if he wasn’t supportive, and that’s the truth.”

    Neeru’s advice to young girls who wish to follow her path is, “Get an education first, and then go after your dream. Having an education is very important. That’s what I’m going to do for my daughter too. [Make sure she] gets her degree and then whatever she wants to do, I would support her.”


    Photos: Studiolv.ca

    Videos: Amaster Media

    Hair and Makeup: Blue Ruby Artistry

    Outfits: House of Masaba (Indian), Tom Ford by Designer Warehouse Co. (Western)

    Jewellery: Adore by Kanika (Outhouse Jewellery)

    Venue: Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

    Fashion co-ordinator: Kanika Sasan

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