As Chann Pardesi completes 40 years since its release, Chaanan Singh Sidhu and Simran Sidhu are repackaging this cinematic gem: The Tribune India
IN tribute to the legendary actors of Punjabi cinema, father and son Dr. Chaanan Singh Sidhu and filmmaker Simran Sidhu are bringing the Punjabi film Chann Pardesi back to the cinema.
While the former shares a special bond with the original film, the latter uses his skills to restore this old gem from its original 35mm negative. He remastered it in high definition digital and 5.1 surround sound. Chann Pardesi Remastered will be released worldwide on May 27.
Many Bollywood legends including Amrish Puri, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Sushma Seth, Om Puri and Raj Babbar debuted with this film. It also stars Mehar Mittal, Sunita Dhir, Rajni Sharma and Rama Vij.
Chann Pardesi won the National Award for Best Punjabi Feature Film in 1980 and became a box office phenomenon after its release in 1981. Today it is widely regarded as the greatest Punjabi film ever made.
Its modern release will also celebrate the completion of 40 years since the release of the Punjabi classic and serve as a tribute to the deceased legends Amrish Puri and Om Puri of Indian cinema and Mehar Mittal of Punjabi cinema, who are no longer with us.
While the trailer has clocked up over 2.5 million views, Chaanan Singh Sidhu, who bought the film rights to re-release it theatrically, shares his association with the film and its screenwriter Baldev Gill.
He says, “I was a student in the Department of Zoology at Panjab University and Baldev Singh, who wrote this film, was from the Department of Indian Drama. It was his first time as a screenwriter, which later gave films like Jee Aayan Nu, Mitti Wajaan Maardi and Chaar Sahibzaade. We became friends around 1977-78 while he was working on Chann Pardesi’s screenplay. He wanted to connect with someone in Mumbai and I knew Manmohan Singh who was then studying at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. I wrote him a letter and helped the two connect. He also came on board as director of photography.
Chaanan talks about how filming the songs had exhausted the film’s entire budget, and it was the belief of the whole crew that helped overcome the monetary issues. Baldev even sold his land to make this movie.
Once Chaanan and his son decided to re-release the film, they had to research who owned the rights to the film and then acquire them. The next step was to remaster it negative by negative. The whole process took them over three years. The pandemic further delayed the release.
Chaanan, whose family members affectionately call him Chann, recounts how he settled in the UK and it took him years to reconnect with Baldev. In other words, he is the real Chann ‘Pardesi’ who took 40 years to bring this gem back to Punjabi audiences.
However, Chann Pardesi was not the original name of the film. His name was Sajjan Bajh Hanera. When Chaanan and Baldev met a distributor in Jalandhar, he said, “If you have debutants and Mehar Mittal is not in the movie, it will be ‘hanera’ for you.”
Chann Pardesi: Remastered premiered at the UK Asian Film Festival.