On our 10th anniversary we present you an Exclusive Interview with Parmish Verma a passionate director and versatile actor who does everything at its best. In an Exclusive Interview with SimplyBhangra's Prabhsimar Kaur he shares about his life, passion and gives us his view of the Punjabi Industry.
From where do you get the inspiration for your concepts as they depict a kind of short story?
My parents are very well versed with the Punjabi language, storytelling and poems were a huge part of my childhood, apart from this I have been doing theater from a young age and it became my biggest inspiration as a theatre artist.
I not only acted but also directed different plays and when it comes to songs I don’t just listen to the song and its lyrics, I try to understand what that song is saying and how to portray it.
The music and beats of the song does the rest of the work for me. Aadat is the best example, I could say as it is from a girls perspective and if I had shown that Ninja is coming from office and a girl gives her a cup of coffee yet he is busy in his work would be a typical music video thing.
Then there arises a question that where is my job in it?
I am not doing the camera; I am not doing the editing. Here’s when a director’s job come in! It’s to come up with the screen play and concept and that’s where I changed the concept that she loves a guy and is still hooks up on him but that guy is no more and she wants to move on which she can’t.
At the same time I also feel there are many songs in the industry which kind of also make where guys are very possessive and protects the girl and it’s all about their pride but at the same time people of Punjab need to know that letting go is also a part of life. If you love someone you have to let them go and at the same time, I don’t get much of these opportunities.
Now as I am a very commercial film maker and I have to make commercial songs obviously and I had pride in making 'Gal Jattan Wali' also but when I get an opportunity to leave a message for people and portray the ground hood reality of life I try doing that as well.
I will be very honest with one thing about getting my inspiration for my concepts as there had been times where I have seen a certain shot in the film of any language and if I get the opportunity to fit that in a song I do that.
I do not say all my concepts are mine there are certain shots and elements you see in Hollywood and you would love to do in your song as well and I think there is nothing wrong in it as bringing beautiful shot or concept from Hollywood to the Punjabi people is also my job and there are many elements which have been inspired from Hollywood and Bollywood movies and I have no issues in admitting that.
How do the lyrics of the song help you in making the concept?
When you are writing a film or directing, dialogues are very important but I don’t get dialogues, so for me lyrics are very important and at the same time beats are also important. Like if it’s a beat song it is very important for me to understand the beat and the kick of the song as there are time when your concept opens up in beats of the song and certain sequences which you would play on the beat for instance.
The song by Mankirat Aulakh ‘Jatt tha Blood’ you will see in it how the beat drops and that’s where everything changes and turns violent, so for songs beats are important and similarly for a romantic song lyrics are important because that’s where you get the whole feel of the song to understand the emotions and intensity of the lyricist and singer.
You are an actor and a director which of the role you think are the best at?
I am not best at anything, who am I? I just a young naïve director and actor I cannot call myself perfect at any of those areas, I am still learning.
But acting is my first love because I have done acting/theater for 10-12 years and direction is my passion it’s like one is my wife and other is my mistress. If there is a role I didn’t do I would not care but if there is a song I think I could have done better, that thing would annoy me that I could have done a better work.
You did theater in you past, acted in movies so how did your focus shifted to direction?
I always wanted to do direction, during my childhood I used to write poems and direct plays. During my theatre days we used to direct our own plays so whatever theater I have done has been improvising in directions by me.
I haven’t done professional theater therefore, it was amateur theater and we would direct the plays ourselves and I know this would sound funny but when I was a kid I used to dream about directing music videos!
You must have heard singers saying they dream of singing songs but you won’t ever hear a person saying that I want to be in those videos, I want to live in those videos.
The first song I wanted to direct which is even my favorite was ‘Yaar Parmeeetya’ by Gurdass Maan Ji and I have been following Punjabi music industry from that time I always wanted to make music videos from a young age.
Do singers demand any kind of specific content from you or it’s all in your hands when it comes to conceptualization and direction?
Before ‘Thokda Reha’ I used to improvise because I was new in the industry and there had been couple of incidents where I had to listen to singers and would change my concepts but after that I have become very stubborn.
Now I only shoot my concept not that I am being rude over here, I never ask singers to change his scale, I don’t ask the music director to change the music or change the lyrics, I would write a screenplay and just put it on the table before the shoot and explain the singer about the concept if, he is not happy with it then I am more than happy to discuss and we can make changes before the shoot but on the set we would not do any changes
It’s not that I would not listen to anyone there, I would listen to each and every person but on the set I would never listen to anyone when it comes to changes and I would only shoot the screenplay that has been finalized before the shoot and on that screen play before the shot would take agreement of everybody on the set.
But after Thokda Reha, till now it hasn’t happened that any one has said me to change the concept and I am blessed that way and whatever concept I would bring on the table 99.9% everyone has been agreed on the screenplay and there hasn’t been any changes made apart from the minor ones like dresses or cars etc. and I give the screenplay to singers and the company way before the shoot if they are happy only then we can proceed and shoot.
If someone is not satisfied with your concept and wants to change it do you still work on the project?
If I am happy with the alterations I would do it but if I make a concept and they change it and I am not happy with the changes I would never do that project no matter how much big the label or singer is or how much money I make. If I am not happy on with the concept there is no way on the earth I would step on set.
Your songs have a surprise element in them as most of them don’t go with the lyrics for example in the recent song ‘Khab’ where later the viewers get to know that the girl cannot hear.
I wouldn’t say it’s a surprise element because this term is abused a lot of time. At the time people would make a shitty video and in the end they would put something stupid just to connect the video and justify this and reveal some kind of suspense.
I believe my job is to give the viewers something to think and talk about something that would go in there mind like “who’s the director of the song”.
How do you feel about the violence portrayed in many of the Punjabi songs?
I feel the people of Punjab are very smart, no person believe you me is that dumb that he saw a gun in the song and after watching, he would pick up a gun and sit in his car no one is that stupid, plus we watch English, Hindi and many other films all the time and see the hero fighting that’s the whole concept.
Every film and similarly music videos are not real that’s why in every Ninja song the gun is empty and there is TROLL on social media after every three days. So I give people something to watch and that aggression ends after 3 minutes and I try to keep it less violent but at the same time it’s my job to make entertaining videos rather than to give any social message through my videos.
So Parmish Verma does not likes preach or give out messages to his massive fan following who idolize him.
Who am I to preach anything! People should not idolize the characters of music videos. Idolize writers not singers, musicians, actors or directors.
Parmish Verma should not be an idol just because he has nice beard and body or he looks good in his photographs rather Writer should be an idol.
What do you think of the quality of music which is being released in today’s market?
Industry has been changed on a big level and its beautiful; there was an opportunity for Punjabi cinema to boom few years ago and a lot of movies came out.
Similar is the case with Punjabi music industry it has changed earlier there was time when cinematographers were everything like beautiful shots and then there was a phase where choreography was everything and art directors came in sets were given much importance.
Now there is a phase were storytelling is everything and today videos are everything about stories, now most of the videos are in the form of films. The lyrics and music have changed a big time and now we are listening to EDM in Punjabi music, dubstep is there and it’s a beautiful combination.
The Punjabi music industry is neck to neck with other industries like Bollywood and even Hollywood for that matter. Most of the Punjabi songs are played in the pubs and people who understand the language are connecting with it very well and it’s the best time for Punjabi music industry.
How impressed are you with the current level of Punjabi cinema – Is it an exciting time to be involved with it right now?
The last 6 months have been very good before that Punjabi industry had a big boom and it brought in many directors and artists a lot of people say it wasn’t a good phase but I would say it was a good phase because many people left and artist who actually had talent are there and rest were shut out and that’s the only way anything works.
It’s like an interview, like I have a job opportunity and I would call 1000 people for interview, I would give job to may be 50 or 100 people so I think that’s how it works, those who had talent and better than others stood out and others have gone.
If you think you have talent and if people accept your talent you will be recognized, and I certainly believe that I have talent because I haven’t done filmmaking to make songs for the rest of my life, I would defiantly make films one day. If not making films at least act in films.
Your father Dr Satish Verma is a renowned name in the Punjabi industry, does it create a pressure on you to live up to his standards in terms of writing and direction?
It was there when I was in India as then I was the son of professor and every other professor’s son was becoming engineer or doing well it was a pressure back then, but when I came back from Australia things changed.
I have worked hard so much, I have gone through the misery of that student visa phase and then after 2 years I got a job and I was well settled. Coming back was a very matured decision and my father was the only person who said me to come back not that I wasn’t doing well I was working in a leading company, I was earning good, I was permeant residence of Australia but my dad said “just give yourself a year you always wanted to do this, chase your dreams I don’t want you to regret later’’.
So he is my driving force, how he can be my pressure, he is always behind my back if I fall, plus mine and his ideology are completely different I cannot even copy my father’s concepts because he thinks from a very different perspective and my brain not 1% ready to understand his philosophy.
He is such a great man and the way father thinks and analysis things, I think I just took 10% of his creativity and became Parmish Verma so there is no way I can compete or live up to his standards but I enjoy the fact that he enjoys my songs and my concepts are justified by him and he thinks I have done a great job.
He really loved the concept of Siyaal, Aaddat and Khab I don’t even discuss anything with him I just make a song and show him sometimes there is a tear in his eye and I think my job is done.
How do you take upon a song which doesn’t work well?
Just like I take a hit song, its part of my life I am not Picasso, I am not here to make master pieces I am a much sorted man. I don’t expect every song of mine to do 7 or 5 million YouTube views I just see the potential of the song and I analyse it in a very smart way.
I look at the songs music, lyrics and the efforts put in it if the ratio is same let’s say if a song does half million YouTube views but the singer was new and he didn’t have enough financial resources or the company couldn’t put money for promotion. If it has done well within the given situation and if that given situation justifies it then I am happy.
So for you YouTube views are a parameter to check a songs success?
No it’s not like that, lets for example Akhil’s song. He is a known singer and he promotes his song through all the social media channels and its there all day all time, for them doing one million views is no big deal because everyone supports them and there promotion on a great level as everyone knows that the song has been released.
But on the other hand there is a new artist and has no such support or fan page it takes at least one week or sometimes even two for that audio to reach out to people. When a new singer releases a song there are 30 shares and no one listens to that song for weeks and has to pay a lot of money and has to go through a lot just to make the song reach the masses,
So I don’t believe in the concept of one million YouTube view in one day, I believe what is your YouTube view number after one and half month, do people continue to listen your song? Because if one million views are still there it means the song has reached to at least one million people but if people still continue to listen and watch your songs, then it’s a hit.
So Akhil’s song may be didn’t do one million views a day but its now sitting on more than 7 million views now with more than 78 thousand likes on YouTube.
So according to you all the success depends upon the social media’s like share and comment?
Yes, that’s a big part of it but it’s not the whole concept. When Thokda Reha came out, it was a much bigger hit than it was on YouTube because it’s just sitting on 3 million YouTube views but that song was on every single person’s playlist, car, jeep, college festivals or wedding was playing it. I don’t believe there was any song as big as thokda reha.
Yes YouTube, FB promotions are a very big part of it but at the same time I feel the real hits are the songs which are played in cars, in auto rickshaws in people’s snapchats. If my 5 songs come out in a month I would know which are the bigger songs amongst them because I know those songs are on people’s snapchats, their Instagram’s and being listened by the people.
So yes, social media is a big part of it as we are living in an era where everything is on social media and everything is connected now.
So it is a big deal but I believe when songs are in your phones or played on various occasions like there is song ‘Munda apne viaah de vich nachda fire’ that song is played at every wedding similarly now at every wedding ‘Gallain Mithiyan’ is played so I think that’s my success.
‘Gallain Mithiyan’ is a forever song. I think Aadat is still on people’s phone. I still see snapchats of Aadat, That’s my success, Aadat still goes on to continue in terms of views on YouTube as its not entirely about the number of views at least it tells you that people are still watching your songs so it’s not about the number of views it’s about the fact that people are engaging with it.
So do you think certain companies tend to buy views just to increase their popularity or hype amongst the people?
People of Punjab are very smart. Buy 5 million views and if you see the song is still sitting on 5 million views after a month, you can very well understand how it is?
Yes, people tend to buy views but I believe it works against them, let’s say you bought two million views but your song is still sitting on 2.2 million views after 3 months that means no one has listened to your song after the release?
People do a lot of stuff to buy views and likes but I think that’s very stupid, there might be songs which are sitting on 5 million views but no one listens to it now?
People are very smart because they will tell you the song is good or bad and they will be honest in comment section. You can see that there are songs with many views and yet you see people swearing in the comment section and their comments are deleted.
There are people who buy views and feel confident about it but I don’t seem to care I am a very content person and if a song doesn’t works well, that song is equally close to me as a song which has done exceptionally well.
So according to you success of a song can be marked after a month?
Yes, because you can get it shared and get views on the time of release or so but according to me if my 3 songs release together the views of the songs in the initial two days cannot be measured as the songs success. We don’t know how much an artist has support or money to promote the song.
Just check the ratio after 3 months, for example if a person had 1 lakh view during the initial days and the other had 10,000 views and if after a month or so the 3 lakh one reaches up to 4 lakh and the song on 10,000 reaches to 1 lakh so according to me that song which reached from 10,000 to 1 lakh is a bigger success than the other as it did 10 times better at what the other song opened at and the other just did only 2 times better.
So you should check the ratio and I think that if people are smart they can tell it easily.
Which part you enjoy more the in front of the camera or the behind it.
I enjoying doing both and I can never choose amongst the one it’s like one is my wife and other is my mistress and is cheating on both.
Any future plans to act in movies.
I have been asked for to do films as negative leads, main leads and even as supporting leads but so far I didn’t find the right scripts which were that interesting. I believe that I have a certain type of fan following and they like what I do and it’s because of them I have been asked to work in films. I have to do justice to them so I can’t use this hype and name to do below average or shit films and ruin my career. I am just waiting for the right person to approach me.
There have been times when I did not like the role/character or the story wasn’t right so if the right people contact me for the right role I defiantly would do it.
Any particular director you are waiting for?
No, not really I think Punjabi film directors are doing great work like Anurag Bhaji is doing a fantastic job even Mandeep Bhaji for that matter and since we have limited directors in Punjabi industry, everyone is doing a great job.
If there is a brand new director who wants me to work in his film I would still do it, so I’m not particularly waiting for someone, anyone who has the right passion and wants to do his job I don’t care who the person is either a new director or some renowned one .I was a nobody and now I am someone. I am not particularly looking for names.
What is your take on working in Bollywood.
There was a time when I was in Bombay and I still do get calls for serials and stuff but I feel I am son of a Punjabi professor, I love Punjab and I love working for my people and language. It’s not a big dream for me that I want to go to Bollywood like I don’t want to shift there but yes if there is a short term work I would love to do it and then come back but not entirely moving there.
Yes, Bollywood do seems big but I, as such don’t plan for Bollywood I just want to do my work here in Punjab.
Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
There are many of my songs coming and most of them are on the post-production stage and a few of them are ready and would be released soon but for now one of my song ‘Daru Wale Keeday’ is about to release. It’s by Taj Sahi and music is by Nick Dhammu and Inder Dhammu.
Then there is another coming up ‘Tu meri ki lagdi’ by Goldy Desi Crew. There is even a project in which I’m introducing a new singer to the industry, its Honey Uppal, music is by Desi Crew and its music video is dedicated to army men, its name is yet not final. Daru wale keeday and one more Bhaday Supne would be realised soon.
Message for your fans?
It’s not a message it’s a request from my side that the ratio of your alcohol intake and gym work outs should be 3:7 I don’t want to say don’t drink and stuff because everybody does that I just wat to say do workout, don’t drink much and ‘kaumi ekta banai rakho’ don’t let people divide you.
Interview done by Prabhsimar Kaur.
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