He has been giving some mega hits and been making commercial movies as well but even if he touches the right chords with the audiences or not, he still is an immensely popular Director. Rohit Jugraj is one honest and straight forward person who just doesn't believe in sugar coating things while interacting, and that's exactly what we loved about him.
He stepped into the Punjabi industry with an uncanny film titled Jatt James Bond in the era when everyone was addicted to either love stories or baseless comedies.
Currently, pepped up for the release of his film 'Khido Khundi' based on Hockey, he has taken a step further by being the co-producer of this movie. Though a lot of hockey based biopics are underway in Punjab as well as in Bollywood but Rohit feels that his will be the 'first hockey movie and best of its kinds'.
After movies like Jatt James Bond and Sardaarji, what made you choose this particular subject?
I have already created the audience who would love to watch my cinema. I am happy and satisfied by the kind of movies I've made earlier which were typically commercial. Now, I wanted something different. The movies which would creatively satisfy me will be those which touch my heart and also which narrate a story to the masses. My current project is one such film and honestly speaking, I have never been more excited for any of my earlier movies as much as I am for this one.
Why a Hockey based movie?
I have played hockey in my younger days and this movie is not only about Hockey but Hockey and Punjab collectively, both of which are deeply rooted within me.
Punjab is my motherland and it is my duty to give my bit back to the soil that has given me so much to be proud of. My cinema is my way of giving back my little bit to my motherland. On the other hand, Hockey is our national game and many have forgotten about the glory of this beautiful game that is played with a curved stick. I wish to bring the faded glory.
Harjeeta is another Hockey based movie and there are many more being made. Does your movie have any remorse connection with Harjeeta ?
(Laughs) The only similarity is that both are based on Hockey but nothing more than this would be alike, I assure you!
Is your movie a biopic or a true story?
I, firstly, don’t understand the concept of making a biopic. Just because Bollywood is making such films does not mean that we start running on the same path. Taking an insight into which stories are picked up for biopics, let me tell you that most of them have been based on people who were lost somewhere and were struggling but got no help from anyone.
Makers use their stories as they're mostly out of original content but that's totally unfair. It's not a good practice to use someone’s life history for one's commercial profits.
On the contrary, my movie 'Khido Khundi' is inspired from many living legends. It is not the story of one man but of many who have brought us glory and have inspired not just me but many more.
Tell me something about the movie’s storyline and star cast
The movie is a story of two brothers who come back to their homeland Punjab and together, bring back the lost glory of our national game Hockey. It is a movie which has passion, dedication and emotional heft all together.
The lead star cast is Ranjit Bawa, Mandy Takhar, Manav Vij and we are introducing a new actress named Naaz in the movie.
You’ve worked with the biggest of stars, why such an unprecedented star cast now?
I have learnt lessons from my projects and now I believe in choosing a team that is dedicated for the project. This star cast is just that.
Continuous hours of shooting in scorching sun and a lot more would be required for this movie. I don't want stars telling me in the middle of the shoot that I have shows in Canada or anywhere and that I have weekend commitments for TV shows!
I can’t handle that.
A star cast needs to be completely absorbed in the project and only then can we make a meaningful film, otherwise it’s a project which would just be looked at from a commercial angle.
What is the shooting schedule like and when do you plan to release the movie?
The shooting is currently happening in London and the second shift would be in Punjab, in August. We plan to release this movie in February 2018 but soon we will show you some teasers.
You’ve made movies in different genres. Which one is your favorite?
All of them are my favorite. Even the audience can’t love just one genre. Everyone likes variety and so do I. I can’t stick to just one.
Earlier Sartaj Singh Pannu was the director of this movie, what happened? Where is he now?
When the project started it was on a much smaller scale but when Sartaj was doing research about it we discovered much more than what we expected, hence the project became big. The financers wanted someone who has already delivered hits, in order to be able to handle this project, and they gave it to me. Sartaj is a dear friend and is still in the project. He would be one of the screenplay writers for the movie.
How taxing is it to be a producer and a director at the same time?
I am absolutely loving it. I am running around managing things and arranging things all together. I love it!
Honestly, when Sardaarji 1 was a hit, I was just a director and no one gave me the rewards for it but when Sardaarji 2 didn’t work that well, everyone pointed fingers at me. This time I am doing both direction and production, and I am looking forward to how people perceive my perception. If it’s a hit it will be mine but if a flop, even then it will be mine in all terms.
Are you also stepping in Bollywood soon?
I am in talks with Siddharth Roy Kapur for a project. Things aren’t concrete yet but surely I will unveil it once it’s a yes from all sides.
We wish the entire team all the best for this project and we hope the ongoing trend of delivering meaningful cinema goes a long way.