After witnessing a flurry of comedy films made for commercial cinema, the Punjabi film industry has got a gem in the form of a short-film Nooran. The 30-minutes movie is based on the subject of women empowerment and is making waves across international film festivals.
Directed by Amritsar based Navtej Sandhu, the movie’s premier was held at the Punjabi International Film Festival on September 22 in Toronto. Vancouver’s Punjabi community too got a chance to see this touching movie on Saturday, September 28. The screening was organized by Navtej’s brother Hartej Sandhu at the Grand Taj Banquet Hall.
The story of the film takes its inspiration from a renowned Punjabi writer Balwant Singh’s story ‘Rabbo Marasan.’ Great feedback for the film from every age group has made its producer and director, Navtej elated and proud for whom it is his debut project as a director under the banner of his group, Sur Saanjh. He said, “My objective of making this movie was to promote some meaningful cinema. I did not do it for money,”.
Navtej read the story when he was young. “The three-page story left a great impact on me. I knew it had to be turned into a movie and I started working on it,” he said. “If you look at great Punjabi movies like Ek Chadar Maili Si, Long Da Lashkaara etc they were all based on literature. “Our literature is so rich but people have forgotten to make movies inspired by that. Or I can even say now our youth in Punjab is not mature enough to understand meaningful cinema. Therefore not many producers take the risk to put their money in art movies.”
The road was not easy for Navtej too, since he was making a film away from the popular genre. According to him Punjabi film industry is just promoting comedy films which are most of the time meaningless. “We have so many social issues that need to be addressed and cinema is a great way to do them. But the idea of an art movie did not get any support from the producers,” he said.
Navtej kept his budget to the minimum and finished the movie in just a modest amount of Indian Rs 6 lakh or approximately CAD 12,000.
The film touches the struggle of women and every scene acts very thought provoking and gives an inspiring message at the end. The movie is set in 1960’s when there was a trend in Punjab villages to get women for unmarried males by paying money. The movie starts by showing struggle of women against male dominating society but it takes a twist at the end when it shows money can buy a woman but it cannot buy her emotions and love.
Veteran Punjabi actor and theatre artist Sardar Sohi plays the male lead against actress Kul Sidhu, another renowned theatre artiste who was appreciated for her role in Gurvinder Singh’s National Award winning Punjabi film Anhe Ghore Da Daan. The supporting cast of Nooran includes Jaswant Jass, Gurinder Makna and Gurbinder Bhatti-all from the world of theatre.
Navtej is onto his next project now which is again a short movie inspired by Punjabi literature. “I want to work on the topics which are different and touch the hearts. My next movie will also be different,” he said.
By Surbhi Bhatia