Diljit Dosanjh: The Unsuitable Boy of Bollywood

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Diljit Dosanjh: The Unsuitable Boy of Bollywood

Illustration: Akshita Monga

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here is a moment in Diljit Dosanjh’s interview with Anupama Chopra in 2016, prior to the release of Udta Punjab, when he looks at the mug in his hand, suddenly conscious of the black coffee he – a man from a small Punjab kalan – is drinking. He punctuates the chat, where he speaks almost entirely in Punjabi, with the customary Sikh uttering, “Waheguru ji da khalsa, Waheguru ji di fateh”, almost as if to keep reminding himself of how much distance he has struck. The coffee is the ultimate signifier of Bollywood refinement and he can’t seem to believe he has a legitimate shot at it.

The sense you get from Dosanjh is that he is abashed not by his language. But he is abashed by his station. At the Actors Roundtable with Amitabh Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor, Sushant Singh Rajput, and his Udta Punjab co-star Shahid Kapoor, Dosanjh behaves like a Victorian child, seen but not heard until he is spoken to; at one point, he has to ask who Tom Hanks is.

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