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Carry on Jatta 2’s success shows what’s wrong with Punjab’s ‘balle balle’ culture

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The Carry on Jatta franchise reflects a larger trend in the Punjabi movie industry, which is churning out crass films in the name of comedy.

Carry on Jatta 2 has become the biggest grosser in the Punjabi industry with record revenue of Rs 60 crore within a month of its release. But is it really the best film by the Punjabi film industry?

The movie, starring Gippy Grewal and Sonam Bajwa, claims to be a comedy with not-so-funny dialogues and a boring storyline. The prequel Carry on Jatta, also a hit, didn’t boast of a great script either.

The Carry on Jatta franchise reflects a larger trend in the Punjabi movie industry, which has churned out a number of crass, vulgar and sexist movies in the name of comedy over the last few years.

Why this downfall

Punjab has given us the stories of Heer-Ranjha, Mirza-Sahiba, Amrita-Imroz, among many other celebrated romances. The same state is now stuck with Jatt & JulietJatt James Bond, and Channo Kamli Yaar Di.

Jatts are the dominant community in Punjab, but their portrayal in cinema nowadays is restricted to mouthing foul language, teasing girls and singing songs that objectify women.

Panjab University professor Bhupinder Singh Pali blames the government’s lack of interest in promoting Punjab’s art and heritage for the shift from quality cinema.

The state, says Pali, has stopped funding theatre, reduced grants for arts, and turned every institute of higher learning into a technical university. Students, he says, are not taught how to appreciate and understand fine arts.

In such a scenario, the young generation, says Pali, now prefers ‘use-and-throw’ entertainment, which need not be cerebral.

The problem has been compounded by Bollywood’s love for Punjabi songs that glorify misogyny. The validation by Bollywood has made Punjabi directors/producers confident that showing women in poor light sells.

No connect with real issues

Not long ago, Punjabi movies would highlight issues that people, particularly the young, faced in their day to day lives. A film like Asa Nu Maan Watna Da (2004) talked about Punjabi youth migrating to Canada, and the growing distance between families.

In the last few years, some good period dramas like Angrej and Punjab 1984 have been made, but the industry has hardly made movies on current issues.

It took a mainstream Bollywood movie Udta Punjab to talk about Punjab’s young population grappling with drug abuse, an issue over which the assembly election was fought in the state last year.

Bollywood’s depiction of Sikhs and Punjab has been varied – ranging from a Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year to commercial hits like Son of SardaarSingh is Kinng, and Yamla Pagla Deewana.

It is however the commercial Bollywood potboilers, which often perpetuate the stereotypes around Punjab, that have found more acceptance among the Punjabi movie-going audience.

As a result, the Punjabi film industry, sensing an opportunity to cash in on the trend, has made similar movies in the last few years. And, we get movies like Carry on Jatta and Jatt & Juliet, which glorify the stereotypes associated with Punjab and Punjabis.

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