When Gunbir Singh Sidhu, 33, completed his masters’ degree in chip designing in 2003 from Imperial College, London, he never imagined that his passion for cinema would one day turn him into a well-known Punjabi film producer. Sidhu started his entrepreneurial career in 2004, with a second-hand car sale and purchase business with Rs 1.5 lakh from his personal savings. Since then he has made blockbuster Punjabi movies like Jatt and Juliet 1, its sequel Jatt and Juliet 2, Tu Mera 22 Main Tera 22, and Best of Luck.
Singh ventured into film production in 2012 with a co-producer. His firm, Basic Brothers Productions (P) Ltd, which produces and distributes films, is the flagship company of the group, with interests in education, real estate, farming and finance. The group’s total turnover is about Rs 75 crore.
How did he venture into films? Sidhu said, “Since childhood, I have had a passion for films. I used to watch at least one film a week, and gradually it became my passion. But I never knew that I would end up as a producer of Punjabi films, also known as Pollywood.” He adds, “I make movies because I love film-making and not because I want to just earn money.”
Speaking about his journey, he added, “After completing my master’s degree from Imperial College, London in 2003, I was offered placement, but I wanted to pursue my own business in India. I started in 2004 with a humble second-hand car sale/purchase business after I came back to India, with personal savings of Rs 1.5 lakh. Eventually, I moved on to various other businesses like real estate, education, agriculture and finance before pursuing my dream of making films.”
His first production, Jatt and Juliet (2012), was made after he pledged shares and equity with co-producer Speed Records. It became an all-time hit in Punjabi cinema, motivating him to make more movies. He produced Tu Mera 22 Mein Tera 22 (2013), Best of Luck (2013) and Jatt and Juliet 2 (2013), a sequel to Jatt and Juliet. Jatt and Juliet 2 broke the box office record previously set by Jatt and Juliet, and is the highest-ever grosser in Punjabi cinema, adds Sindhu.
What started as a passion has made Singh one of the leading producers and distributors of Punjabi films. He has produced six films and distributed fifteen.
He has a successful professional association with well-known Punjabi singer and actor Diljit Dosanjh and director Anurag Singh, having worked with them in three films so far.
His latest film is Romeo Ranjha — a comedy-cum-action thriller that was released on May 16 on 200 screens in India. His next production is 1984 Punjab, “a movie based on the distressing times in Punjab after the 1984 riots, likely to be released in July. My aim is to venture into production of Hindi films by 2015.”
As a distributor, Sidhu was the man behind the wide release of Jatt and Juliet 2 in Pakistan last October, in association with two other companies. It was the first Punjabi film to be released in over 15 screens in Pakistan, and the premiere was attended by several film celebrities in Pakistan.
Sidhu intends to release his forthcoming productions simultaneously in Pakistan, because he believes Pakistan is the biggest market for Punjabi films. Jatt and Juliet 2 was also released in France, Austria, Italy, Germany, Portugal, and New Zealand, apart from traditional markets like North America, the UK, Malaysia and Singapore.
Jatt and Juliet has become the first Punjabi film whose remake rights have been bought by Bollywood for a Hindi remake, Sidhu said. Himesh Reshammiya has bought the remake rights, and the film will be made with a Bollywood star.