Actor Sunny Singh tells City Times what's special about his latest comedy, Jai Mummy Di, a story of two warring mothers whose children fall in love, out in UAE this weekend
Actor Sunny Singh Nijjar has come a long way since his Bollywood debut in 2011 with a cameo in Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji. After proving his comedic chops in films like Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 (2015) and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety (2018), Sunny is back with what he promises is a 'new' type of comedy - about two Delhi-based warring mothers, whose children fall in love, and set out to find out when and why their mothers fell out with each other. Written and directed by debutant Navjot Gulati, Jai Mummy Di also features veteran actresses Poonam Dhillon and Supriya Pathak as the two mothers, Pinky and Laali, who are at loggerheads - and if the hilarious trailer is anything to go by - expect some top class acting from Dhillon and Pathak, and a laugh-riot from this light-hearted film.
We caught up with Sunny over the phone recently to find out more about the film that releases this weekend in the UAE.
"It's a different kind of romcom. Jai Mummy Di revolves around two mothers. In many comedies in Bollywood the focus is on the entire family - this time I'm really happy that the spotlight is on the mothers; it's about what happens in Delhi, in weddings, there are fights, there's a humorous side to it, when the mothers talk to (or bicker with) each other, the banter between neighbours... I play a typical Delhi guy (Puneet) who is in love with a girl (Saanjh, played by his Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 co-star Sonnalli Seygall). The parents don't know. so you hide, the mother knows everything but she doesn't say, there are arguments, there's an emotional side..."
Magic of Dhillon & Pathak
Watching two of our favourite veteran Bollywood stars, Supriya Pathak and Poonam Dhillon, go head to head in the trailer was a delight. So what was it like for Sunny to be starring alongside these monumental talents?
"It was amazing working with Supriya Pathak and Poonam Dhillon. I was excited and a little nervous also, as to how the shoot would be. But it was so good. I learned a lot. Both of them improvise so much - they create magic, because they put so much hard work into it. I told Poonam ji I remembered her song Sohni Meri Sohni (from the film Sohni Mahiwal) and joked with her that I (and not Sunny Deol) would have been cast opposite her if I had been born in that time. She was very happy!
"The best part about both Supriya ji and Poonam ji is that they make you feel at home. Supriya saves up her energy a lot. She doesn't talk to anybody on the set, but when the camera starts rolling, she'll just give her best and after that she will start interacting. You can gel with them, you feel they are your mothers, and the way they are talking to you in terms of dialogues..it's very real. So it's very good that the film has these two veteran actresses."
A family atmosphere
Jai Mummy Di is produced by Luv Ranjan, who Sunny has worked with previously in Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety and 2013's Akaash Vani. Another familiar face in Jai Mummy Di is actress Sonnalli Seygall who starred as Supriya alongside Sunny's Chauka in Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2.
Sunny says it was great to team up with his 'family' again.
"I remember Luv sir called me and he said, come to the office, and Sonnalli was there. It was a surprise that he gave me this movie and I was very thankful to him for the opportunity. We (me and Sonnalli) were laughing - that was our first reaction - it was great that we were together on a different kind of journey, because Jai Mummy Di is a solo, not an ensemble film like Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2. Supriya-Chauka was always on our minds - people had loved the couple. This time, (in Jai Mummy Di), we were Puneet and Saanjh, but with the Delhi backdrop again!
"We were very excited, from the first day itself we were so comfortable with the knowledge that we're from a family and we're coming back with a different release, and it's going to be a laugh riot. Director Navjot Gulati was new, but many others on set, even the technicians, were the same as in our previous film together. Sonnalli and I always used to help each other out in terms of giving cues and the best part about her is she used to give cues as if she's acting! So all in all, it's like an extended family now.
'I can laugh at anything'
Sunny revealed that the light-hearted atmosphere on set would often tumble into their time off as well, thanks to Navjot, who he considers the funniest person in the entire cast and crew.
"I think the director made me laugh most. I have this habit, I can laugh at anything. And when there's a serious scene, everyone's very quiet so even if there's a small noise, like burping (laughs), I start laughing a lot. And it's kind of infectious, then Navjot starts laughing, and it doesn't stop. And he's forced to take a 10-15 minute break, after which we try to do the scene again!"
Perhaps it was that 'I can laugh at anything line' that struck a chord and made Sunny (even over the phone) come across as someone with a lot of positivity; he admitted it's this attitude that has helped him in his Bollywood journey.
"My Bollywood journey has been amazing. I remember my father (action director Jai Singh Nijjar, who has worked on films like Chennai Express and Singham) -used to tell me, when I was four or five years old, 'Sunny you will become a hero'. So I knew that I wanted to, and I had faith. I knew there were going to be struggles. My dad would say, we can make you meet directors but the rest is up to you. If there's talent, you'll go ahead.
"I remember going to auditions, there used to be numbers. My number once was 101! It used to take hours. I had no idea about who to meet, how to meet. My father made me meet a few directors. But then it was upon them, to call me when the time was right. Sometimes I used to go on my own to production houses. They would say, keep the pictures outside with the reception guy, and we'll call you. And they never used to call me."
Was that disheartening?
"Even when I wasn't selected after an audition, I always had faith - I don't know why I had that kind of positivity. Once a casting director suggested I meet producer Kumar Mangat because he was casting for a movie. I was a little shy because he's a family friend but I went anyway. He said I should meet the director, Luv Ranjan, and that meeting was really good. Ranjan called me after a week, did a look test. We started talking, and creating a bond; he gave me Akaash Vani. and here we are!"
Sunny has some advice for newcomers
"I think the only thing I'll tell them is, be very clear about the industry in terms of acting. Some newcomers come and they do gymming and other activities but they forget the most important thing - acting. At your house, with your dialogues - you can take them from the movie set and practise. Many people don't do that. They will go to acting workshops and classes but they'll come back and not do anything on their own. If you want to be consistent, and give auditions, positivity and faith comes only by working on yourself. I remember I used to give two hours every alternate day, going to the terrace of my building and practising scenes from movies. It makes you confident."
Sunny's message for his fans in the UAE
"I really love Dubai. I was there around two weeks ago. The first time I was in Dubai was in 2011 or 2012 and from then on all my experiences in the city have been good. People are really great - they come up and talk to me, they talk to me about my characters. I know they love me a lot and the whole of Bollywood loves Dubai. I want everyone to watch Jai Mummy Di with their families, girlfriends, boyfriends, dads, but especially with their mothers and mothers' friends - just go to the theatre!"