After essaying intense roles in Udta Punjab and Phillauri, Diljit Dosanjh will be seen showing off his comic side in Chakri Toleti’s Bollywood directorial debut Welcome to New York. The film is set to hit the screens on February 23 and has an impressive ensemble cast—actor-turned-director Karan Johar in a double role, Sonakshi Sinha, Riteish Deshmukh, Lara Dutta, Boman Irani, Sushant Singh Rajput and Katrina Kaif, and many more.
The film has been shot at the International Indian Film Academy Awards (IIFAA). Director Chakri Toleti says, “Yes, there’s a sprinkle of the IIFA Awards, as it was part of the story. It’s the story of Diljit and Sonakshi, who are playing aspiring actors in the film. Then there’s Lara Dutta, who is in a negative role; Boman and Riteish are also playing important characters. Karan has a double role. The rest of the actors will make special appearances.”
Diljit, who is a star in the Punjabi music and film industry, says, “The movie itself is an interesting amalgamation of actors from different parts of the country. I belong to north India and Chakri is from the south. Producer Vashu Bhagnani is from Maharashtra. In the film, Sonakshi plays a girl from Gujarat.”
About the hectic work schedule at IIFAA, Diljit says, “Overall, it was fun. They had so many cameras all around—some visible, some hidden.
We didn’t sleep for four nights. We were asked to perform at the IIFA Awards Nite without any retakes and a song was also shot there. But it was fun and an entirely new experience for me.” Director Chakri, who believes he was the new guy on the block, says, “Thankfully producer Vashu Bhagnani knew all the actors and he got them all together. All of them had worked together in some or the other film. Their professionalism made working easier for me also. We had 18 cameras and so much of footage to watch. Each and every actor brought spontaneity and impromptu humour into the film.”
This is the first time Diljit will be seen along side so many big names in a Bollywood film. But the actor says he doesn’t feel insecure in doing such roles. “Punjabis are big-hearted people. They happily do whatever comes their way. It was a great experience working with each of them. They are all professional actors with so much experience. Besides, it feels good when co-actors take the onus of the film. I am practically new to Bollywood, so I am always on the back foot. But I feel relaxed when the burden is not on my shoulders. I got to learn a lot from them. Karan Johar is a well-known director, and the film centres around him,” adds Diljit.
Chakri enjoyed working with Karan equally. He says, “I had worked with Kamal Haasan in my first film. Working with professionals has its perks. They understand filmmaking well and they don’t interfere. They just follow instructions. Karan has already done Bombay Velvet and I believe he is the most underrated actor. Comedy is his forte. Karan and Riteish have hosted so many shows together and their chemistry comes across on screen.”
But everything was not that easy for Diljit, who faced some difficulty while communicating with the director. He says, “There was a language barrier. He’s from the south but he tried to speak in Hindi to make it easier for me to understand. He is a nice guy and knows his craft well.”
The director too has some words of praise for his main actor. “Diljit understands Hindi very well. He speaks quite good English also. I even tried to teach him Telugu,” he laughs.
Known for his comedy films in Punjab, Diljit says, “I find comedy a little tough. When you are doing intense roles, you are involved in working on your role hence it becomes easy. In the comedy space, the only relief is that the atmosphere on the sets is light.” On being asked, what’s next, Florida-based Chakri says he is working on his next Khamoshi with Tamannah Bhatia and Prabhu Deva in lead roles. “Shooting of the film is complete and it will be out this year,” he says.
Diljit, on the other hand, has started shooting for Shaad Ali’s Soorma. “I will play hockey player Sandeep Singh. I am also working on Maddock Films’ Arjun Patiala opposite Kirti Sanon. The film is yet another comedy and is being produced by Dinesh Vijan and directed by Rohit Jugraj.