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Wanted to do something different, says Jagdeep Sidhu of Lekh (2022)

The writer of the Gurnam Bhullar- and Tania-starrer talks about the inspiration for his films and his plans for Hindi cinema.

Sukhpreet Kahlon

Writer-director Jagdeep Sidhu’s latest Punjabi film Lekh (2022) is an unusual love story. Starring Gurnam Bhullar and Tania, the film, written by Sidhu and directed by Manvir Brar, is a story of adolescent love that faces unexpected setbacks.

Sidhu, who is known for the romantic films he has directed, like Qismat (2018), Sufna (2020) and the recent Qismat 2 (2021), often presents his protagonists as star-crossed lovers who are impeded by forces larger than themselves.

In an exclusive conversation with Cinestaan.com, he spoke of why romantic films appeal to him and his desire to make films for the larger Hindi audience.

Talking about his latest work Lekh, Sidhu explained why he decided to write the unusual romance, “We have not seen a teenage love story in Punjabi cinema," he said. "In other regional cinemas, teenage love stories have been appreciated a lot, but no one made them in Punjabi cinema. So I wanted such a love story to be portrayed. This was the main motivation.”

Lekh review: An unconventional love story about letting go of the past

With films like Qismat, Sufna and Qismat 2, Sidhu ushered romantic tragedies into contemporary Punjabi cinema which has otherwise been dominated by comedies. Lekh, too, is a romance with a difference.

On why the genre of romance attracts him so much, Sidhu said, “My favourite film is Veer-Zaara (2004, Hindi). In Punjab, people have not experimented much when it comes to romance since we mainly see comedies. Even if there is a romantic film, there will be comedy in it.

"I wanted to do something different. In Hindi films, I love Veer-Zaara, Devdas (2002), Bajirao Mastani (2015), so these are the films that I am drawn to.”

Through his films, Sidhu presents something more than candyfloss romance, delving into his characters who need to understand each other and are often transformed through their relationship.

“I feel understanding between partners is very important," he said. "That trust and understanding are what make a relationship beautiful. Even in life, we judge ourselves and realize certain truths about ourselves and learn from them, so perhaps that’s where this comes from in my stories. I have not done this deliberately, but I do feel that one has to be a better human being. It’s not possible to keep everyone happy, but the effort is to not hurt anyone intentionally as far as possible.”

Commenting on the new themes being explored in recent Punjabi films, he said, “There has been quite a change now. We did not have so much experimentation with themes earlier, but it’s great that such good films are being made in Punjabi. I feel the industry will grow as more diverse stories are explored.”

While his next Punjabi-language releases will be Moh (2022) with Sargun Mehta and Sher Bagga with Ammy Virk and Sonam Bajwa; Sidhu is also gearing up to make films in Hindi. While the script for his debut project has been sorted, the principal cast is yet to be decided.