CHANDIGARH: If actor Irrfan’s rhythmic language in Punjabi film ‘Qissa’ is being talked about, there is one man who deserves the credit: Manchpreet Singh, a theatre director from Amritsar. The man who runs Rangkarmi Kala Manch was language coach on the film directed by Geneva-based director Anup Singh’s film.
When Manchpreet came on board, the actors were a confident bunch as they had already been trained in Punjabi. To get Majha’s dialect right, Manchpreet was brought in and the actors felt like beginners.
While talking to TOI, Irrfan admits that Punjabi turned out to be much more difficult than he had imagined. “Thankfully, Manchpreet was around on the sets to train and help us get the tone and feel right,” he says.
When asked how tough it was to mould minds and tongues conditioned to certain language and training, Manchpreet says Irrfan was a very dedicated learner. “As Irrfan realized that his training in Punjabi had not been of much help, he put in all the effort. In a day, he would spend around 18 of the 24 hours with me getting the dialogues right. He would record the way I would say a dialogue and the way he would say them and compare them later. He leant it really fast,” he says of Irrfan who, people associated with the film say, has been raving about Manchpreet at public gatherings related to the film.
And Manchpreet says that Irrfan has fallen in love with the language. “A year after the shooting was over, I went to Bombay for dubbing. Through all the days that I spent there, I saw Irrfan hooked on to Punjabi poets. He would either be listening to Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s recordings or Sufi singers on his phone or laptop. “He told me: ‘Kitni khoobsurat zubaan hai. Ishq ho gaya hai isse,'” tells Manchpreet.
To Manchpreet, Tillotama Shome came out as the fastest learner. “A Bengali, she speaks the best Punjabi in the film,” he says and adds that he had the toughest time with Tisca Chopra, a Punjabi.
“Since she was a Punjabi, she didn’t feel the need to learn the language, but here we were talking about pure Majhe di Punjabi. Her urban Punjabi was very different. Making her unlearn that and learn the dialect was the toughest for me,” says he.
Director Anup Singh says, “Manchpreet brought his childhood of growing in the Punjab, his years of work in Punjabi theatre and his conscientious regard to every nuance of every word spoken by the actors. His shy, but nevertheless determined rigor to help every actor with tone, sound and meaning brought the film its raw, authentic rooting in the cultural ground of Punjab.”