Kanwal Preet started his foray into Bollywood with an acting course from Dhillon Creations. His first break was in a music video and his breakthrough role was the reality tv show called love.net, season 2. He has worked in several multilingual films, including Hindi, Punjabi, Marathi and Telugu.
Kanwal Preet wowed us with his role in ‘Dilli Vala Dost’, a short film that’s available on Pocket Films. We caught up with this Chandigarh guy for a free-wheeling chat about that film.
How did Dilli Vala Dost happen?
Ojasvi Sharma, a director, is a friend of mine. We have done some projects together. He told me that Rakesh Mehta (the director of Dilli Vala Dost) is making a short film and they are looking for a cute and sweet actor who does not look muscular. He referred me. Rakesh saw my pics and narrated me the story. I agreed to do the film as it had good message though it did not have many twists and turns.
How was the shooting experience?
We had planned a three day shoot but the director, me and the other male actor who was from Australia, all three had date issues. If the film wasn’t shot in that span of time, it would not have happened at all. But all of us had the passion to have this film shot. It was a hurried shoot, we completed it in 22 hours, but it was a great experience.
Did you do anything special to prepare for the film
Not much, the character in the film was similar to what I am in real life. I am a simple guy who eats, drinks and has fun.
This film talks about friendship and is one of the first to do so. Why do you think other film-makers haven’t spoken about such a subject?
Filmmakers generally think that there’s nothing to explore in friendship. They’d rather concentrate on a film that’s sex laden because that’s what sells. They will make a sexy thumbnail and promote the film as a sexy film, but there will be nothing in the film. In our film, the friendship aspect was the USP.
I wanted to change the ending, but then we decided that this film has started on a simple note and we want to end it on a simple note too. We didn’t want to shock our audience. We wanted to change the perception that the audience has about the people of Delhi. We wanted to tell them that people in Delhi are good too.
You have stayed in different places, so you are sure to have a number of friends. How is your personal experience about friendship?
I have friends in Chandigarh, Delhi and Mumbai. People in Mumbai are blunt and transparent. That is good. If a person from Mumbai doesn’t like you, they will tell you that they don’t. People in Chandigarh aren’t very open. They are shy. Like, if they want to propose a girl, they will take fifteen days to think how to do it.
I believe if you tell a person the truth, they will feel bad for few days, but a lifelong problem is solved. Delhi boys and girls are smart and believe in getting things done.
How were your growing up years with friends?
I was weak in studies. As soon as the clock struck 5, I used to go out and play cricket or some other game as I was an outdoor kid. My friend circle was also huge. We were staying in a flat in Mohali, so I used to gather my friends by ringing their doorbells and we used to play outdoor irrespective of the weather.
Are you in contact with your childhood friends?
I am in contact with my school friends. The beauty of friends is that even if you talk to them for an hour in a year you can start the conversation from where you have ended a year back. Today morning, I met someone who was in college with me and he instantly recognised me, it felt so good. I believe, in friendships there are no give and take.
Has something like what happened in the film happened in real life with you?
Yes, something like that has happened. I was shooting in Chandigarh. One of my old friends, Kulvinder, came to my sets to meet me. I felt glad at that time.
Coming back to short films, why do you think mainstream film-makers and actors are going bolder on the streaming scene?
See, when it comes to feature films, there are a lot of restrictions. The filmmakers don’t want an A certificate or a U/A certificate as it cuts their audience. Take for example the film B.A Pass. That film is quite popular and has won awards. But, whoever has seen the film has only seen it with their spouses or boyfriend and girlfriend. That kind of film isn’t seen with a family member. I wouldn’t be comfortable seeing such a film with my family.
When it comes to streaming, you don’t have to buy a ticket and go to a theater with someone. It’s in your laptop and phones. Everyone has a phone and an internet connection today. You can watch a film in your own private time.
That’s the difference between the mainstream cinema and the web.
Mainstream film-makers are experimenting with short films. Some film-makers have made horror films all their lives and are now experimenting with different genres. They think, at the most, the film won’t make loads of money, but at least the film is out there for people to watch.
Why do you think more and more mainstream actors are signing up web projects?
Our industry is show business. If a person isn’t visible, he will not be successful.. Take Govinda’s case. He has great comic timing, but where is he today? That’s because only he knows when his films will release. So, just because his releases aren’t hitting the theaters, people think that his career is over. Look at Ranveer Singh. Why is he signing up so many advertisements? Why is he being the digital ambassador? He wants to be visible. He understands the business. Anyone who understands the business will definitely opt for web projects.
Also, film-makers are making short films or web series on subjects which are considered taboo in India. Streaming has given them the platform to express their ideas without any censorship issues. So, for mainstream actors, working on such bold subjects and experimenting with cinema is an added bonus.
Finally, do you think there needs to be a censor board for the streaming scene?
It’s not necessary. The web is more open as compared to mainstream. In case of mainstream cinema, you have to go through lot of channels. When it comes to web, you know that there’s a platform and all you need to do is make a good product.
A number of short film festivals are mushrooming today. Why do you think that’s happening?
That’s a good intiative. There’s such a craze for short films. People want to watch these films. Short film festivals are good because you interact with people who are in the film industry too. You also get introduced to films. These films, you cannot see on YouTube. Festival Films are not available on streaming platforms.
What’s next for you?
My next film is Zubaan. Again, I play a simple man who is vocally impaired. The character has given me an insight about people who don’t have the gift of speech. There’s this saying that people who don’t have one attribute learn to survive with others. That’s an interesting aspect.