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ranjit
last cut
THE LAST CUT

Director Manoj Punj gave Punjabi cinema a new definition and dimension

Jaskiran Kaur

Chandigarh, October 23: Zindagi khoobsurat hai. The Manns had descended on their favourite city for the promotion of their film and a brand-new production house, Sai Productions. They brought with them the glitz and glamour of Mumbai, big name to flaunt called Tabu, a different story and someone to introduce - a quiet salt and pepper haired man by the name of Manoj Punj, their director. Like always, Punj, who p***ed away on Sunday at the age of 38, was his humble self. Little did we know that this un***uming individual would change the face of Punjabi cinema, give actors like Gurdas Mann, Divya Dutta and Juhi Chawla brand new screen presence and dole out three national award-winning films taking his mega project, the fourth and unfortunately the last, Waris Shah - Ishq da Waris, to an international platform. Now was his moment of glory, and it goes without saying that Manoj Punj would be greatly missed. For his humility, his down to earth philosophy, his sincerity, friendship, and above all, his vision that re-shaped the way we perceive our history and culture. “He was a beautiful human being, and it’s a big blow, perhaps the biggest for the Manns. They shared an amazing camaraderie and chemistry. Manoj was my guiding force, a morale booster, a thorough gentleman. I’ve never seen him angry or aggressive. Now was his time to work with the names in Indian Film Industry like Sanjay Gupta, to make films on a m***ive scale,” says actor Manav Vij who worked with Punj in Des Hoya Pardes. “We celebrated diwali together, and Manoj was looking forward to another project. At Rs 7 crore, Waris Shah was a risk, but Manoj took it. The man had a vision, and he believed in doing justice to his roots and story,” adds Vij. While the Manns are inconsolable, we remember how Juhi Chawla praised Punj and had said how he gave his actors space. “He never interfered or cut us. It’s a great quality,” she had said. Old friend Gaurav Trehan of Catrack remembers Punj, days at DAV and theatre. “He was an actor first, and he used to act in my theatre productions. He went to Mumbai to pursue acting and also acted in Neena Gupta’s serial. But it never worked and Manoj took up direction, another subject of his liking. People say they are doing something different, Manoj proved it with his films. He gave a new status, name and calibre to Punjabi cinema,” Trehan tells more as he raves how Manoj was “sincere and affectionate person, an avid reader and fan of international cinema.” “I used to tell Manoj that he’s famous now and shouldn’t let people or struggling actors disturb him all the time. I am struggle myself, he had said. That was Manoj.” And his loss is huge
25 Oct 2006 03:29
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