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This ACFA alumnus and actor plays shades of grey in music videos with panache

Mr. Narinder Kalia aka ‘Yaar Narinder’, shares anecdotes about his experience of working with the stars of the Punjabi entertainment industry

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Mr. Narinder Kalia, popularly known as ‘Yaar Narinder’ is an actor, writer and lyricist in the Punjabi entertainment industry. He is also an alumnus of the Apeejay College of Fine Arts (ACFA), Jalandhar. He pursued his Masters in Music from the university, in the batch of 2017. In a wide-ranging interview, the popular bald, bold and beautiful villain of Punjabi music videos shares details about his journey in becoming an artiste, best memories from the ACFA campus and some of the new projects he is working on. Edited excerpts.

How did you decide to become an actor? What was the inspiration behind it?

Well, initially I was a very passionate cricketer. I was an all-rounder. I would be the opening batsman and also wouldn’t give the first over for bowling to any other player.(Laughs) I was always very clear that I wanted to achieve something big in life. I had started creative writing since class 9 at school. I performed a lot on the stage during my school days. I used to also do a lot of street-plays (Nukkad Nataks). Then in college, I was once performing a poem of mine, when the college theater director saw me and offered me a chance to perform in a one act play. I auditioned and got the lead role in my first attempt. The name of the play was Guru-Dakshina. So, this is how I started with theatre.

I was unclear back then whether I was growing as a cricketer, actor or a writer. I was progressing in all the fields. But I was always sure that I wanted to be a part of the entertainment industry, be it theatre or sports. Then one day, one of my friends had a shoot for a music video and he took me along. At the shoot, my friend was very nervous and therefore, he wasn’t able to perform well. The director of the shoot spotted me beside him and asked me if I could play the role. To my surprise, I was able to perform the role very well. It was the first time that I was facing a camera yet all my shots were alright. It was at that moment, that the thought clicked in my mind that sometimes certain things are meant for you. Coming to a shoot all of a sudden, being offered a role by the director without any audition and  performing the role without any nervousness or inhibition, it was destiny. I was at the right place at the right time. I had no formal training in acting, I just learned on the go.

 I would also like to thank my teacher in theater, Mr. Partho Bandhopadhyay. He resides in Kolkata. I had met him at a theatre workshop in Amritsar and later went with him to Kolkata where I learned the craft from him over many months.  Sir Charlie Chaplin is my inspiration, I look up to him and work hard to better my art.

How did ACFA help you to pursue your calling in life?

A lot of my friends had recommended me to join ACFA for higher studies during my graduation time. I had heard many good reviews about the institution, so I decided to enroll here for a Masters in Theatre. But this course wasn’t available, so I instead opted for a Masters in Music.

I was a student of music but I was always engrossed in theatre. Then during a theater competition performance rehearsal, one of my friends had to play a pseudo god-man in the play. He was not able to get the correct expressions for the role. So, I asked the teacher if I could try. I did the role and I aced it. I was selected to play the role of the pseudo god-man. 

On the day of the performance, I improvised by getting a special haircut; a design of a chameleon on my head. I asked the light man in the auditorium to put the lights on my head during my entry. The moment I entered on the stage and the light fell on my head, the audience welcomed me with a huge roar, there was a huge round of applause and that day it was clear to me that I only wanted to become an actor. Unfortunately, we lost that competition, but the chief guest gave me a special mention. I believe, what matters the most is not the victory but when your performance touches the hearts of people.

I lost my father while I was still a student at ACFA. I remember, during that time some people had also misguided me about progress in the field of acting. I was sent to Delhi for work but was instead stuck in a creative rut there.  I also did many odd jobs such as working as a delivery boy at times even for my daily expenses. It was then that I decided to take a stand for myself and pursue the craft seriously. So, I started learning to act properly.  

What are some of your best memories from the ACFA campus?

One was the performance which I have just mentioned above. Another one, I would say, was when we were once practicing a play at ACFA. Another student was standing there and talking to some of my teammates. He had heard a lot about me.

Actually, I had featured in 2-3 music videos and a few of my songs had also come out. My friend told me that he wanted to meet me. It was a very special moment when I met him. I saw a lot of respect in his eyes for me as an artist. That was really heart-touching.

Please tell our readers about your work profile?

I will speak about my career as a lyricist first.  My first song, Maula Maula Sufi had released in 2012.  Then in 2015, another song Rooh Da Sai which was recorded with Tajinder Honey, was released. Then my song Dugg Dugg with Jaslove was released at PTC Punjab in the same year. Then I worked with Sona Mohapatra in Delhi. We recreated the celebrated Pakistani Ghazal Nehar Wale Pul.

After that I shifted towards acting and started script writing as well. I began acting in Punjabi music videos. My career there started with a music video for Ninja. I have also worked with Baani Sandhu, Kamal Khera, Gurnam Bhullar and many other celebrities.

Tell us about some anecdotes about your experience of working with so many stars?

Gurnam Bhullar was my junior in college. Years later, we met during work at the set of a music video. All the people at the set were going to greet him. When I went for the same, his bodyguards stopped me but Gurnam told them to let me through. He introduced me as his friend from ACFA. I was so pumped up after this gracious behavior by him that I decided to really give my level best for his shoot that day.

 In another music video, with Baani Sandhu for a song named, Agg Att Koka Keher, I gave all my shots perfect in the first take itself. The entire crew applauded me. But what was more was that during one of the takes, Baani Sandhu suddenly stopped her performance. I was afraid that why had such a big star stopped the shot in the middle. She then came towards me and told me that she couldn’t perform alongside me since my energy was so high that she wasn’t able to match it. I felt very proud that day. I thanked the almighty a lot.

Please tell us about some of your new projects?

I have 7-8 new music videos. Some of them are with popular artistes such as Jassa Dhillon, La Bhila while some of them are with newcomers. All the videos will be launched on the YouTube channels of the respective artists. Also my debut in acting will happen very soon. My movie, Teriyaan Meriyaan Hera Pheriyaan will also be out very soon. I have played a significant role in the movie.  

I am also working on a Bollywood project as a scriptwriter. The shoot for the same will begin very soon. My next song Ambani with Jaslove will be released next month.

What are the three life lessons you would like to give to a theater student at ACFA?

Three Ds are very important for success in any sphere in life.  Discipline, Determination and Dedication.

Arijit Roy is a young correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. He has done his masters in English literature from Delhi University and has a book of poems published by Writers Workshop India. He can be reached at [email protected]

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