Vaisakhi Special: Five films that capture Punjabi culture in its true essence


We’re in the auspicious month of April which means that the wonderful harvest festival of Vaisakhi has arrived. This festival is given the highest respect, celebrated with lots of delight in Punjab and across India in its various regional forms such as Bohag Bihu, Pohela Boishakh, Puthandu and Vishu. In 1699, on the day of Vaisakhi, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Sikh Guru inaugurated the Khalsa (Sikh Community), making Vaisakhi an even more joyous and special celebration.

With the spirit of thankfulness and togetherness, Vaisakhi, like all other Indian celebrations would remain incomplete without the presence of upbeat dancing (Bhangra and Giddah) and delectable sweet dishes (Jalebi and Zarda) that Punjab is famous for. On the day of this festive occasion, takes a look at five Hindi films that capture Punjab and its culture in its true essence.

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ (1996) 
A Yash Chopra classic, starring Shah Rukh Khan as Raj, Kajol as Simran and Amrish Puri as Chaudhary Singh. After Puri’s character moves to London, he continues to hold Indian culture, tradition, food, life in Punjab with his relatives and friends close to his heart. After Raj and Simran’s love story has been established in London, the plot takes a turn and Raj is re-introduced in India to win over Simran’s family and ask for her hand in marriage.

Raj first meets Simran in the golden mustard fields of Punjab, giving viewers a chance to appreciate the natural beauty of the land of the five rivers. The movie depicts Punjabi cultural traditions through pre-wedding ceremonies and north Indian celebrations like Karva Chauth. The musical and cultural extravaganza of Punjabi weddings has found a place in the song, Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna which is still a wedding favourite today.

‘Jab We Met’ (2007) 
This film stars Shahid Kapoor as Aditya and Kareena Kapoor Khan as Geet, their last film as a real-life couple which has been greatly appreciated by the audiences. Aditya, a heartbroken tycoon on the verge of committing suicide, aimlessly boards a train. He meets Geet, a high-spirited girl who plans to elope with her boyfriend, and finds himself pulled into her crazy life. The film is has been shot mainly in Chandigarh and Patiala.

Director Imtiaz Ali is known for portraying Punjabi culture in his work, and through the romantic journey of Aditya and Geet, Ali has beautifully captured the colourful green and yellow fields of Patiala in many iconic scenes. Mauja Hi Mauja and Nagada Nagada, songs containing catchy Punjabi lyrics are still popular till date and Kapoor Khan’s famous dialogue, “Sikhni Hoon Main Bhatinda Ki” captures the very spirit of Punjab in the movie.

‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’ (2008) 
Set in city of Amritsar, this film stars Shah Rukh Khan as Surinder / Raj and Anushka Sharma as Taani. After marrying Taani, Surinder discovers that his new wife cares little for him. She decides to enter a dance competition, Surinder disguises himself as Raj, joins the class and tries to befriend her. After racing through the colourful streets of Amritsar on a motorbike and eating gol gappe with her new dance partner, Taani soon falls in love Raj, unaware that he is in fact her husband.

The iconic Golden Temple is featured during the second part of the song, Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai. It’s here that Taani realises that God resides in one and all, included her husband Surinder, beautifully portraying the divine aura of this location. With its upper portion made purely from gold, the legendary Golden Temple is almost synonymous with Amritsar. This breath-taking temple is the holiest shrine in the Sikh faith, and it is part of the larger gurdwara complex known as Harmandir Sahib.

‘Dil Bole Haddipa’ (2009) 
The title of this is enough to depict the essence of Punjab and stars Shahid Kapoor as Rohan and Rani Mukerji as Veera. Shot in the town of Ropar, a marketplace for agricultural products, makes it a great choice for showing the authenticity, style and dialect of Punjab. This is one film that showcases the famous culture of Punjab as we all know it to be with lassi, ghee, daal makhni, chewing sugarcane and those beautiful golden mustard fields.

Directed by Yash Raj Films, the story revolves around Veera, a fire-cracker of a girl who lives in a small village but dreams in 70mm. She works in a local theatre group but dreams of playing cricket in the big league. Rohan is an accomplished captain of a county cricket team in England, who returns to India to captain his father’s cricket team which has been losing consecutively for the last eight years. Rohan meets Veera and then begins their roller-coaster filled journey with music, romance and comedy through Punjab and beyond.

‘Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana’ (2012) 
It is evident that Punjab has always been a much loved backdrop for many Hindi film stories, with fluttering phulkaris, blossoming mustard fields, extravagant wedding celebrations with lively dancing. However this film captures its authentic and vibrant culture in a strikingly true to life way. Shot in the city of Ludhiana in a locality called Field Ganj, this comedy has been produced in partnership between Anurag Kashyap, Siddharth Roy Kapoor, Ronnie Screwala and features the rich quirks of Punjabi culture.

Starring Kunal Kapoor as Omi and Huma Qureshi as Harman, the film masquerades as a quest for a recipe that is only known to a senile elderly gentleman addressed as Daar Ji, played by Vinod Nagpal. Rather than make it just about the hunt for the recipe, a mere plot device, the filmmakers have chosen to look at how relationships between people evolve during the pursuit. What’s being celebrated are the big hearts, welcoming nature, fun and positive attitudes of the residents of Punjab. The colourful supporting cast provides for a happy adventure through the northern state, complete with its colloquial phrases, quirks, and laughter. wishes all its readers a very Happy Vaisakhi and hopes that Hindi cinema continues to produce wonderful films that are set in the land of the five rivers.

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