Punjabi movie paves path for more international films on P.E.I.

·3 min read
'It feel great yeah knowing that like Punjabi movies are now going to be all around the world,' says Inderveer Sohal who attended the film with his family. 'It's like really unexpected to find a Punjabi movie on an Island.' (Shane Hennessey/CBC News - image credit)
'It feel great yeah knowing that like Punjabi movies are now going to be all around the world,' says Inderveer Sohal who attended the film with his family. 'It's like really unexpected to find a Punjabi movie on an Island.' (Shane Hennessey/CBC News - image credit)

The recent success of a Punjabi movie showing at the Charlottetown Cineplex could help bring more international films to P.E.I.

Chal Mera Putt 2 was rereleased worldwide last month after COVID-19 hindered its initial release date in 2020. Cineplex said it has placed the film in around 40 theatres, including in P.E.I's capital.

"The film has been very successful for us in Charlottetown, and we're very happy with the results of it all and it's very encouraging," said Cineplex executive director of film programming Robert Cousins.

"We kind of work with distributors, we find pockets that maybe we've underrepresented and then we bring those films to those pockets."

The movie is filled with singing, dancing and romance, said Cousins, and displayed with English subtitles for those who don't understand the language.

He said the small size of some local theatres does make it difficult to bring in international films but the company is always looking to serve different communities across the country. In this case, he said the presence of the Island's Punjabi community was integral.

"If that community was not there and we just relied on everybody else to come and see the film, it might not have been successful," he said.

"They're catering to a base crowd, and then you hope everybody else joins into the party."

'It feels good'

Staff at the theatre said when the film first arrived, the evening viewings were completely sold out for about six days straight.

The crowds have subsided, but still some people say they drove hours for a chance to see it.

"We came all the way from Moncton," said Arshdeep Singh, who was there with friends.

"Canada is a multicultural land ... so if they get the movies and other things like festivals and all that, it's going to be good for the people."

Shane Hennessey/ CBC News
Shane Hennessey/ CBC News

Inderveer Sohal just moved to P.E.I. with his family last week. He said his mom doesn't speak English so finding out there was a Punjabi film in the theatre was a pleasant surprise for everyone.

"It feels good. It's their first time watching a movie in Charlottetown," he said.

"It was unexpected to find a Punjabi movie here — didn't expect that.

Sohal said he thinks this is also a good opportunity to bring the Island and Punjabi communities together.

"They get to know about other cultures... we watch English movies too and it would be really great if, like, people from different communities come and [watched] a Punjabi movie."

'Success breeds success'

Cousins guesses Chal Mera Putt 2 will be in theatres for about two more weeks.

That being said, he said he thinks it has "absolutely" paved a path for future films from across the globe.

"Success breeds success," he said.

"When we see something like Chal Mera Putt 2 in Charlottetown and how it's being reacted to and ... how it's grossing and how the community is getting involved in it, it encourages us even more and more to bring more films into that community."

And while it's usually been Chinese and Punjabi movies that have made their way to Island theatres, Cousins said if the interest is there, the possibility to explore more diverse options could follow.

"We're always looking for opportunities to bring films out," he said.

"We just need to know that there's enough of a community there to service the film when we bring it in."

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