Swaalina is a famous face of the Punjabi music world. The model-actress made her debut in the industry with ‘Prada’ in 2018 and since then there has been no looking back. And though the actress is not a fluent Punjabi speaker, she was roped in to play the lead in one of the much anticipated Pollywood movies – ‘Shooter’. Starring her and Jayy Randhawa, the movie had its fair share of ups and downs.
In Swaalina’s BigInterview, the actress opened up about how her journey from Punjabi music to movies happened; she also spoke about the controversies surrounding the film and much more.
What made you fall for the Punjabi music industry?
Before I entered the Punjabi music industry, I was already doing TV commercials. My first TV commercial was with Shahrukh Khan for a beauty product, which was a dream come true. Then one day I got a call from a director for a music video, initially, I said ‘no’ straight up that this is not what I’m looking for. But he was persistent and I asked him to send the song. I heard it and really liked the song. Though at the time I didn’t understand the track except for the word ‘ Prada’.. haha .. since it’s a popular brand and also Bentley. I liked the song and sound so I went ahead and that song ended up being the biggest song of 2018.
I wouldn’t have thought in my wildest dreams thought that I would be doing something in the Punjabi industry, mainly because I didn’t know the language at all. For me, the dream was always Bollywood and Hindi. I did not know that another industry like Pollywood existed, but after ‘Prada’ it just opened up another perspective and new doors. So much love I received from Punjab that I myself fell in love with the place, people, and culture.
Recalling your first video shoot – what are the things you feel you aced at, and what are the things you think you could have done better?
I wouldn’t change anything in the first music video because everything was put together so well in that video. I managed to ace the expression and being true to the feel of the track that everyone would relate to. Yes, it received a lot of love. Moreover, every experience is unique especially the first ones. So I wouldn’t change anything about it.
How would you describe your journey so far?
It’s been amazing, I’ve received so much love from the people of Punjab and everywhere, I could have never imagined. They welcomed me with open arms, gave me all the love that an artist would ever wish for. It’s a dream come true, definitely. There’s so much more to do and give back to the people of Punjab, I am really looking forward to all the exciting adventures.
You have been in the industry for a long now, and you took your own time before making your Pollywood debut, why so?
After ‘Prada’, I kept on doing music videos, I wanted to experience more and know the language, people, and culture. I didn’t want to be someone who doesn’t understand the language and relies on dubbing and other techniques. I think that would be unfair to the audience. I’m a person who does things with all my heart. I didn’t think I was ready to just jump on a role in a movie where I don’t give my 100 percent.
Even for the music videos, I only do songs that I resonate with and connect with, and that’s one of the reasons they do well. It’s not about the financial aspect, it’s more about the art and respect towards it.
How did ‘Shooter’ happen?
I was already doing music videos and a lot of producers and directors started connecting with offers but the issue was because I wasn’t a Punjabi girl and didn’t speak the language, which used to be a challenge. So here, I was given 15 days to learn the language, if I could speak fluent Punjabi then I was in. I told the makers, sure give me 15 days. I took up the challenge, and worked day and night over those 15 days, locked myself in a room, studied Punjabi, watched a lot of films, hired a tutor. I didn’t do anything else, just studied the language. I feel language is a door to the culture. After around 13/14 days, I recorded a Punjabi monologue I had written myself in the language. I sent it to the makers, and they were quite impressed. Maybe they weren’t expecting me to come back with this. But for me it was a dream, I love acting and really wanted that.
The next day I was told we were shooting. It was crazy and one of the best experiences.
‘Shooter’ is based on the life of an infamous gangster, so did you get comments like – you should perhaps not do the movie because it is controversial.
Like I’ve mentioned, I was finalized for the role just a day before. I heard the script and thought there is a strong message there. I didn’t feel it was promoting weapons or weaponry. I took it positively. When we were about to release, there was a ban put on the film and even before that, I started getting some threatening calls which I had to avoid. Artists express through art, and the film had a message. Unfortunately, the film got leaked which was a lot of hard work from the team which I feel when the film releases, will be paid off. And yes, I do not encourage any weaponry or violence. It’s a real-life story and that’s all it is about.
Tell us about some BTS fun moments from the sets of the movie
I had never been on a Punjabi movie set before, this one from my first day. I was so nervous I couldn’t sleep the previous night. On the sets, I was in my vanity when the Asst. Director gave me the script saying, you’re shot next, this is the opening scene. The script was long and this was also the ‘Thet Punjabi’, not the modern city Punjabi. I quickly started learning them while the makeup was going on. The magical moment was when I went to set and delivered the lines. Everyone was impressed, I guess they were expecting me to fumble or not catch up quickly. So, it was something new for me and it felt really good, felt amazing.
Describe Jayy Randhawa as an actor and person
I did not know Jayy Randhawa personally, but I had seen photos and videos of him since he was a VJ and singer. On the sets, I was standing there with the braided hair ready to go for a take, waiting. There was a guy, who came about and said Hi! I’m Jayy. I was really shocked, he was looking like a totally different person I could not recognize him because he had to go through a transformation and he had to lose a lot of weight. I think he was around 46 kgs. As an actor, you really need guts to undergo such transformation, have so much discipline and dedication to the art. I think everyone applauded. As an actor, he’s very easy to work with, he helped me a lot. He a good person, very kind and helpful.
Did the delay in the release of ‘Shooter’ ever make you doubt the project?
I believe, that everything happens for a reason. There is a time for every situation and nothing is an accident. Even at this point, I believe that the film has a strong message and is based on a real-life story. I’m sure once the movie releases, everyone will get to watch it. I would encourage everyone to go and watch, it’ll be a different experience altogether.