Diljit Dosanjh On Finding Joy In His Music, Working With Abbas Ali Zafar

The singer-actor, in an exclusive session on FC Front Row, talks about effortlessly managing his work, success not defining him and being an independent artist
Diljit Dosanjh On Finding Joy In His Music, Working With Abbas Ali Zafar

It won't be wrong to say that Diljit Dosanjh has been unstoppable. From releasing two hit albums in the last 18 months – G.O.A.T. (2020) and MoonChild Era (2021) – to bringing in some much-needed cheer with his cooking videos on social media, the artist is currently basking in the glory of a job well done. In an exclusive conversation on FC Front Row, he talks about his upcoming projects, being aware of his mistakes and finding his work as an independent artist more fulfilling than being in a rat race.

Anupama Chopra (AC): In the last 18 months, you have released two albums, you are the only Indian artist to have three albums on the Billboard charts, you have been shooting films as well – Honsla Rakh is releasing in October. How did you manage all this in the middle of a global pandemic?

Diljit Dosanjh (DD): I don't have to manage music. I don't treat music as work, I find happiness in it and have no intention of 'managing' music. I shot three films, including a film with Ali [Abbas Zafar] sir, which will release on Netflix next year. I just finished shooting another film yesterday; I also shot for a Punjabi film, which will be released in October. Managing films is a great task, but there's a big crew in place to take care of most of it. I just wake up every morning and do my job.

AC: What can you tell us about your next video, directed by Ali Abbas Zafar?

DD: Both of us were free post our respective shoots. I had to go to Austria to shop some nice clothes. Ali sir told me about a very good line producer there, who wanted me to come and shoot for a song. The Culture and Travel ministry wanted me to come and tell people that I shot there, in a move to further boost their tourism. He then said, "Let's shoot," and I was more than happy to. I had no new songs, so I asked him to pick a song from my album. He chose Void and we shot its video. The heroines charged no money to shoot the video. Ali sir too didn't charge any money. He just did the video as a gesture of friendship. But there were a lot of frills in the shoot (laughs).

AC: How does a man remain the same despite changing circumstances?

DD: I take my success as God's grace. I can't say, "I do this or that", it's just God's grace. Every day, I commit mistakes but by the grace of God, I am made aware of those mistakes. I try to give myself some slack over them, but after 15-20 minutes, the realization of being wrong hits again. So, yeah, I commit mistakes everyday.

AC: Do you feel that you have become a better actor over the years? I read somewhere that you are making one film with Ali Abbas Zafar, there is another film about the 1984 riots, there's another film Detective Sherdil which sounds so lovely. Do you feel that now you are in a place to take more challenging roles?

DD: The film I am doing with Ali sir on Netflix was just a favour from him. When he offered me the film, it was such a big thing, since he was shooting it himself and had worked with the superstars of Bollywood before. It was indeed a favour he did for me by casting and banking on me for a film. He may or may not agree to this, but he has a very big heart. I have high respect and regard for him. He did not have any need to direct Diljit Dosanjh after having directed superstars in the past. By superstars, I mean actors who have worked hard, the ones that are liked by the audience and whose films work financially. After directing them, Ali sir had no obligations to direct me. When he offered Detective Sherdil to me, I didn't ask him a single thing. He simply narrated its story, I didn't even read it. I just asked him whether he liked this story. He said, "Yes, I want to make and film this story." And I came on-board right away. He had sent me a script – I didn't read that too. I read two pages of the script during my flight where I had a hearty laugh since it was all in English. I just did the film on Ali sir's orders. Call it good luck, but I think the work has come out beautifully. It was a learning experience, and I look forward to such learning experiences.

AC: But Diljit, nobody in Bollywood works anymore by just showing up.

DD: Let them not work like that, I don't care. I don't even want to work in Bollywood. I have no ambitions to be a great star in Bollywood. I love my music and can do music without anyone's will. I can make music without any pressure or on the behest of any superstar. "Whose work will do well, whose won't, who'll get a song, who won't"– we don't do that here. In Punjab, every artist does independent work (puts out songs independently). That is a big freedom, nobody can stop us. So, nobody can stop me from making music. I'll keep on making music till I feel like it and till God's willing. As for Bollywood, I don't care whether I get or don't get any work there.

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