Punjabi film shot in Metro Vancouver breaks boundaries and box office records

Click to play video: 'Punjabi film set in Metro Vancouver becomes international blockbuster' Punjabi film set in Metro Vancouver becomes international blockbuster
An indian-language Punjabi film set in Metro Vancouver has become an international blockbuster, cracking the top ten at the North American box office. Neetu Garcha reports – Nov 4, 2021

A romantic comedy shot entirely in Metro Vancouver has become the second Indian-language film to crack the North American top 10.

Honsla Rakh tells the story of a Punjabi single father of a seven-year-old boy attempting to find love.

Translated, its title means to “have patience things will work out,” said producer Pawan Gill, who was born and raised in Surrey, B.C.

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“We’ve never seen a single father in Punjabi films,” explained Gill.

“Divorce or separation is a big concern in the community that’s not commercially talked about — people think of it as a depressing topic — but here, we did it as a rom-com.”

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Honsla Rakh is breaking both cultural boundaries and box office records.

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On its Oct. 15 release date, it was the seventh-ranked movie in Canada, grossing more than $2 million — remarkable as it competes against major Hollywood blockbusters.

It’s now on IMDb’s list of top five highest-grossing Punjabi films of all time, having grossed more than $6 million worldwide.

“It’s breaking records in India, overseas, in Canada, U.K., Australia, America — so that was beyond what we thought,” said Gill.

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The movie’s soundtrack also has a local flavour.

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Aneil Kainth, known on the music scene as Intense, created the song ‘Chanel Number 5,’ which is featured just before the film’s climax. Kainth, born in Surrey, said artists like he and Gill defying expectations.

“I would say the generation before us, it would be kind of frowned upon to go into music,” he explained.

“Nobody ever thought that a kid from Surrey living out here could actually make it, go across the water, go to India and work in he Bollywood industry.”

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Honsla Rakh was shot on a budget of about $3 million and Gill describes it as a “COVID baby.”

India’s pandemic lockdown forced the film crew to leave India and come to Canada, where it was made.

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“The only hard part is you have so much family out here and everybody wants to come on set,” said Gill. “So I made a rule, ‘Mom you’re allowed, nobody else.’

“COVID was a blessing when you’re South Asian and you have a lot of friends and family who want to come on set. I was able to use the excuse COVID.”

Honsla Rakh is playing at theatres across Canada and runs 145 minutes in length.

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