Call him a romantic or just some one who makes beautiful memories. Watching his marriage videos will make you skip a beat. Vishal Punjabi, who studied film making in England, moved to Africa in 2008 to create beautiful memories with real stories and people .“We don’t make people act or follow a script. Nothing is planned in any form, which is why it’s important we shoot with people who open up to us. You see, these films are not just wedding films. What if you could see your great grandmother’s love story today? And what if it was a beautifully told story?” asks Punjabi, 33. He has shot 13 weddings so far, from Geri Gets Married to Happiness, all big hits online. While the latter was shot in Sultanpur Dabas, a small village near Delhi, his upcoming project is based on a double wedding, ‘‘The first I’ve ever witnessed. One sister fell in love, the other had it fixed by parents. Both the sisters are beautiful but one suffered an accident that burned her entire face and body,’’ says Punjabi. Some of the locations for the weddings are Barbados, Napa Valley, Nairobi and Goa. When asked about a wedding that he really wants to shoot, he says, “I would love to shoot India’s first legally gay couple, in a rainforest, on a full moon night with Coldplay playing,” says Punjabi.
Besides weddings, Punjabi has also worked with Shahrukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment for 10 years on commercials like ICICI Bank, Wipro, ITC, Airtel and Hyundai. He has been a part of the visual effects team in movies like Ashoka, Main Hoon Na and Don.
Now, the filmer is busy working on movies like Yeh Jawaani Hai Diwaani by Ayan Mukerji. “Ayan wanted his audience to feel this wedding. The approach was to shoot the wedding as real as possible so it does have The Wedding Filmer touch,”says Punjabi, who shares his experience of working with actors like Ranbir Kapoor and Kalki Koechlin. “I’m so used to shooting without retakes that this was a breeze. It was re-assuring to know that I could stop the bride and groom in the middle of the pheras and ask them to go again.”
25 years later
Surprisingly, the first wedding he filmed was of his own in 2010 which went viral with more that 8,000 likes on YouTube. Punjabi’s film Heartbeats, another wedding movie, was shot last October in Goa and was screened in 32 film festivals all over the world like the Punjabi International Film Festival in Toronto.
Interestingly, this was his first film that had an original song composed by Amar Khandha. Punjabi has bigger plans for the future, where he would love to make a sequel of his wedding films. ‘‘To see how far these couples would have come would be special. I hope they will introduce me to their kids saying, ‘meet the guy who captured our story,’” he says.
Punjabi charges approximately 5 lakhs a wedding.
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