Art & Entertainment

Paramvir Singh Cheema On 'Chamak': I Wanted To Break That 'Happy' Punjabi Stereotype

For the longest time Bollywood has portrayed Punjabis as people who always make merry and laugh, and that was the stereotype actor Paramvir Singh Cheema says he wanted to break through his new series "Chamak".

A screenshot from the teaser of the series Chamak

For the longest time Bollywood has portrayed Punjabis as people who always make merry and laugh, and that was the stereotype actor Paramvir Singh Cheema says he wanted to break through his new series "Chamak".

In the SonyLIV series "Chamak", Cheema plays Kaala, a young aspiring rapper who comes back to Punjab from Canada to unravel the death of his father Taara Singh, a legendary singer who was shot dead during a packed performance years ago.

Even when he worked on "Tabbar", in which he played a Punjabi cop, the Jalandhar-born actor said he did not want to give in to the stereotype.

"The way Punjabis have been portrayed in the industry for years is that they keep laughing, they are always happy, they drink alcohol. Whenever I go to parties, a lot of friends ask, 'Yaar, you're from Punjab and you don't drink?' I tell them, 'I don't feel like drinking today'. I wanted to break that Punjabi stereotype (with 'Chamak)," Cheema told PTI in an interview.

With web series like "CAT", "Kohrra", "Tabbar", and now "Chamak", it's almost as if filmmakers have now started to look at Punjab in depth and the actor said there is still a lot to be explored about the state.

"When people watched world cinema during lockdown, they understood that they can also get into stories with realism. The way Bollywood has shown typical Punjabis, people also got bored of that... Many warriors, sportsmen, and cricketers have come out from there but Punjab is just popular for drugs and terrorism. Nobody talks about the growing population of Punjab and the spirit of Punjabis," he added.

When filmmakers started exploring different aspects of the state, viewers also liked watching them, said the Jalandhar-born actor.

"Anyone would like to make more of something when that has done well with the audience and has got a good reach. When people got in, they found stories like 'CAT', 'Tabbar', and 'Kohraa'. They are yet to see the roots of Punjab.

"We are still only talking about male protagonists. The day we start talking about the female protagonists of Punjab and exploring their stories... A film based on Maharani Jind Kaur is being shot. It's a solid story. We have only explored 10-15 per cent of stories in Punjab. There is still a lot more to Punjab," he said.

While "Chamak" is a musical thriller that grapples with themes of identity, home and revenge, Cheema said the series highlights that no artist should be killed. Noted Punjabi artists such as Amar Singh Chamkila and Sidhu Moosewala were killed in the state. Chamkila was gunned down in 1988 and Moosewala in 2022.

Directed by Rohit Jugraj, the show, which has garnered good reviews, is inspired by true events but is not based on any one individual.

"All in all, no human being should be killed. But, an artist is killed because of their art. When their pen becomes too powerful and it feels like it can become a big problem, they are suppressed... It's said that Chamkila was killed because he used to sing weird songs that were not liked by the society. Then, Sidhu's case happened," Cheema said.

"Chamak" boasts of many cameo appearances including Gippy Grewal, Mika Singh, Malkit Singh, MC Square, Afsana Khan, Asees Kaur, Sunidhi Chauhan, Kanwar Grewal, Shashwat Singh, and Harjot Kaur.

Grewal, a popular Punjabi star and singer, plays Taara Singh. Cheema said he was initially unsure if Grewal would play his on-screen father in "Chamak".

"When I found out Gippy is going to play this role, I asked Rohit sir 'Will he play my father?' He himself is a hero. Rohit sir said 'He is my friend first and he knows the story is spread across two time periods.' Then I told my Dad and everyone was very happy at home.

"My father said, 'Gippy is playing your father in the series. Waah yaar, you've become a hero!' Now that Gippy was playing my father, I became a hero in my father's eyes. That I play the lead in 'Chamak' was secondary," the actor recalled.

Growing up, Cheema said he used to watch Filmfare awards with his family and would wait for Salman Khan to appear on screen. He started modelling in college after a designer friend asked him to walk for her.

From there on started his modelling career which hit a peak when he won the Mr India 2016 pageant and gradually told his father that he wanted to move to Mumbai.

"But he said he will let me go if I complete my law degree. Meanwhile, I lived in Delhi and dipped my toes into fashion. I earned some money."

It was fashion designer Varun Bahl, who asked Cheema to try out for films, as he had a "commercial face".


"I told my father I'll go to Mumbai the day I complete my LLB. Just give me six months, I said. As an only parent, he also didn't let me go to Canada. After coming to Mumbai, I became friends with a random guy in the gym who took me to the theatre. When I went to do theatre, that's when mujhe meri beat mili (I found my beat)," he added.

Right before his six-month deadline got over, Cheema got an offer for the Zee TV show "Kaleerein". Soon, he realised he wanted to switch to films. After struggling for three years, he joined casting director Kavish Sinha's agency to understand why he was unable to crack auditions.


Soon, the lockdown was imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic and the actor went back home to Jalandhar to start farming with his father.

"But I kept auditioning. I had sent my audition video for 'Tabbar' from the farmers' protest site and cracked it. Then, 'Chamak' also happened," he added.

Cheema also stars in web series "Sapne Vs Everyone" and "Ishqiyapa".