Director Taranjiet Singh Namdhari resurrects his first feature film as a six-episode series

“It was a dream launch. I was directing Naseeruddin Shah in my debut film,” says Taranjiet Singh Namdhari who shot his first film Dhillon’s Jackpot with the veteran actor in 2007.

The film, written by Avtar Panesar, also features Kirron Kher. “We had a bound script and story in place. There were reading sessions with the actors and they mentored us. All of us in my team were in our late 20s trying to figure out our lives. It was fun,” says Taranjiet looking back at his journey.

Dhillon’s Jackpot produced by Raj Kundra didn’t have a theatrical release then but now after 15 years it has been resurrected in the form of a six-episode series. Each episode runs for 20 minutes.

The story is about Dhillon, a 50-year-old first generation immigrant from India who lives in Southall, London with his elderly father, wife and three grown-up grown up children. Life for Dhillon is a daily struggle, until one day he hits the jackpot.

The story of immigrants is universal, says Taranjiet . “There is a generation gap between the first generation immigrants and the Asian communities born and brought up there. And a longing for acceptance from the Brits. The story is relevant even in the current times.”

While he retained the original storyline, he made a few edits in the screenplay and a few scenes were moved back and forth. “We added a few aerial shots and footages of how the city looks now (the film was originally shot in London and Mumbai), worked on dubbing and voice over and gave it an editing structure. To place it in the time zone during which it was shot, we added year and location before the start of every episode. We re-looked at it from the perspective of a series.”

A still from Dhillon’s Jackpot

Taranjiet says the re-telling gave him an opportunity to correct his mistakes. “Most of the Punjabis and Gujaratis who inhabit London city often have land and houses back home in India. They are reluctant to let go off it as for them it’s a part of India they own, which the younger generation finds strange. Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, have same issues even now.”

Taranjiet has also made another film, The Great Indian Escape, based on a true story of three Indian Air Force pilots who break out from a prisoner of war camp. This film was produced by Namdhari’s production company Kik Butt Entertainment. “We crowd-funded the project. I distributed the film on my own platform on YouTube, which I have been running for over eight years. During the pandemic, we started talking about Dhillon’s…and now the six-episode series is released on Kundra’s BollyFame Platforms (App and YT Channel) and my channel as well, besides Amazon.”

He says the OTT platforms are a boon for film makers. “It gives us freedom. As long as you have great content and understand the economics, there’s no stopping. Even seasoned actors are very encouraging and willing to be associated with such story-telling. It’s a democratic medium and encourages original content.”

Dhillon’s Jackpot is streaming on Amazon Prime in the UK and US and on taranjietsinghnamdhari channel on YouTube and BollyFame Platforms (App and YT Channel)



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