'When Punjabis go for a movie, especially if they are abroad, they go with grandparents and parents. It is an event for them.'
'We always have to make family entertainers so that people feel comfortable watching with their families.'
You don't always need Bollywood to show your acting prowess to rule audiences's hearts.
Regional cinema can give you the same recognition, and Canada-born actress Neeru Bajwa has proved that.
Neeru, who started her acting career in Bollywood, is one of the most sought after actresses in Punjabi cinema. She is presently busy promoting her coming romcom Shadaa, which pairs her opposite Diljit Dosanjh for the fifth time.
The film sees her as a wedding planner but Neeru tells Rediff.com Contributor Mohnish Singh, "Spending so much money on weddings is a waste. Even in my own wedding, I didn't spend much."
Shadaa is a quirky take on marriage.
Yes, it is.
It is basically showing the not-so-positive side of, maybe, marriage. But we are not being negative about it.
I think a lot of people, who have married, have their ups and downs. This is a comical take on that.
I play a bachelor in the film; bachelors are usually the butt of jokes in Punjab.
You are being paired opposite Diljit Dosanjh for the fifth time. What brings you together as co-stars so often?
He is amazing and we are still the same like we were in our first film.
He doesn't like to discuss scenes. I hate rehearsals.
The director says 'action' and our scenes happen. It just happens very organically.
We have some sort of chemistry that makes things look natural.
He is really hard working and talented.
He is self-made. He has done everything on his own.
But he still keeps talking about his Udta Punjab co-star Kareena Kapoor. Don't you feel bad?
No, I don't (laughs).
He is very sweet and talks very nicely about me too.
You remain one of most successful actresses in Punjabi cinema even after getting married and having a child.
I have never been so confident in life.
I wanted to prove that life isn't over after getting married and having a child.
Life continues and you can do so much.
There is a stereotype that life finishes after you have a child and that you should just stay at home and get fat (laughs).
I want to be a strong role model for my daughter.
Do you miss being a shadi (bachelor) in real life?
No. I had reached a point when I thought I would not meet anybody and that I would have to adopt a child because I really wanted to become a mother.
I would think it is not going to happen; I am 34 and I just cannot find anybody I can settle down with.
But then it happened. I saw my husband and fell in love with him.
So I don't miss being a shadi (laughs).
You play a wedding planner in Shadaa. Which wedding was done perfectly in real life, according to you?
Honestly, I feel -- this is my personal opinion -- spending so much money on weddings is a waste (laughs).
I would rather travel.
You end up spending so much money on these guests and still nobody is happy.
Even in my own wedding, I didn't spend much.
Would you like to venture into the Web space?
I saw Delhi Crimes and would love to do something like that. It's brilliant.
Do you think Punjabi cinema would ever explore subjects like Delhi Crimes or even Sacred Games?
Yeah, and I think it would do well also.
The audience is very mature now.
The same audience that watches Hindi films also watches Punjabi films. They are ready for new things.
Regional films have always succeeded in touching the right nerve of the audience. What do you think?
You always want to see what you connect with.
Marathi people want to see content in their language, as it feels like a reflection of themselves.
Punjabis watch films they connect with because they say this is our story.
It also keeps the language alive.
Also, watching movies is a family affair.
When Punjabis go for a movie, especially if they are abroad, they go with grandparents and parents. It is an event for them.
We always have to make family entertainers so that people feel comfortable watching with their families.
You did a couple of Hindi films that did not do well. Would you like to get back to Hindi films?
If anything good comes up, I would love to.
Do you regret doing those Hindi films?
No. You learn from everything and I learnt that I don't want to do that.
What is more important to you: Box office numbers or critical acclaim?
Box office numbers because then you know that the audience has gone to watch it.
And I want producers to make money. They spend money and there is lot of hard work involved.
If people don't watch it and only a handful of critics watch it, it does not solve the purpose.
Today, women-centric films are attracting audiences.
It's amazing because they are making money also.
I watched Raazi and loved it.
I hope they keep making good films, not those stereotypical female-oriented films.