Manmohan Singh's Ik Kudi Punjab Di: gender equality gets an entertaining treatment

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Starring Amrinder Gill, Jaspinder Cheema, and Rana Ranbir. In Punjabi with English subtitles. Rated G.

Gender equality gets an entertaining treatment in the ensemble drama Ik Kudi Punjab Di from director Manmohan Singh, the veteran filmmaker and acclaimed Bollywood cinematographer who’s been credited with the rebirth of modern Punjabi cinema.

Refusing to be bogged down in polemics, the film tells a richly textured tale from a keenly female perspective set against the backdrop of male-dominated Punjabi society. But it does so with a Shakespearean credo of “all the world’s a stage” and a lively cast that keeps the film hopping along briskly while laying out its poignant message.


Watch the trailer for Ik Kudi Punjab Di. />

Punjabi music star Amrinder Gill plays Sahejpal Singh, a young man from a wealthy family who meets the girl of his dreams Navdeep (Jaspinder Cheema) at his college drama class. The two juniors are outcasts in a group full of colourful characters. They quickly bond, much to the chagrin of bad-boy student Vicky (Aman Dhaliwal) who prizes Navdeep for himself.

While the male chauvinist Vicky has no chance with the progressive-minded Navdeep, even Sahej, the man who she admires enough to call a friend, is in for a shock. Navdeep, an only child, doesn’t want to get married; she’s intent on being the guardian of her loving parents because the family lacks a male heir.

Sahej tests his own view of women by agreeing to all of Navdeep’s demands, including moving in with her family after marriage. This is seen as both revolutionary (by her classmates) and heresy, an affront to Punjabi society and tradition, as it is the women who leave their families after marriage to go live with their husband’s family.

Director Singh uses the liberal drama class setting as a way to not only challenge society norms but also holding it up as a mirror to the very real world outside its walls.

Aided by a strong cast that includes the versatile and talented Singh regulars Gurpreet Ghuggi and actor-writer Rana Ranbir, and a standout performance by newcomer Jaspinder Cheema, Ik Kudi Punjab Di is Singh’s best film to date.

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