Quitting a stable job of working alongside Shah Rukh Khan to shoot weddings for strangers was one of the smartest decisions Vishal Punjabi ever made. Aside from the enormous success of his company The Wedding Filmer, the decision has made him one of the most envied men in the country.
Punjabi’s unique talent of turning wedding films into cinematic masterpieces has managed to place him at almost all of the most anticipated celebrity weddings of recent times, including Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma’s, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh’s, and now Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani’s.
But as Uncle Ben once wisely said “With great power, comes great responsibility”, Punjabi has the eyes of the legions of fans of these beloved celebrities on him to execute the wedding film in the best way possible. So does he feel the pressure?
“Hey, who wouldn’t feel a little pressure when the whole country is watching?” he says, as we manage to corner him for a chat amidst his busy schedule, “But honestly, I just try to focus on what I love about my job, which is capturing the love and magic of a wedding day. Whether it goes viral or not, as long as the couple is happy with the film, that’s all that matters to me.”
In a previous chat with HELLO!, Punjabi had admitted that making wedding films for celebrity weddings is tricky because the stars are used to seeing themselves on the big screen. “Imagine Deepika Padukone, who has seen herself under Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s lighting with her make-up and hair done by ace artists. How do you impress her with a wedding film?!” he had said back then.
When asked if that was the pressure while shooting the latest celebrity wedding film, he says, “They’re used to the cameras and the whole shebang, so they know how to bring the drama. And that’s part of the challenge. It’s a huge compliment when they like our work and speaks volumes about the value of memory. But seriously, our team knows how to make everyone feel at ease, no matter how big the names are. We just want to show the world what an amazing time the happy couple had on their big day!”
And it was an amazing time, indeed, if it wasn’t evident from the delightful wedding photos shared by the couple or the teaser of the wedding film they shared on Instagram recently. While the couple and their loved ones can be seen having a blast on screen, things behind the camera were equally, if not more, fun too.
“I had never met Kiara and Sid before, but when I found out they were familiar with my work and all our wedding films, I was over the moon. It turns out that Kiara’s best friend was actually a bride I filmed way back when I first started my career. And if that wasn’t enough, one of Sid’s closest friends used to work with me at The Wedding Filmer for five whole years! So, when we were all together for Kiara’s mehndi ceremony, it was like a reunion,” recounts Punjabi, “I looked around the room and saw all these amazing brides I had filmed over the years, each with their own unique love story and film. It was so special to be surrounded by all that love and support. It made the whole experience feel less like work and more like a reunion with old friends. I loved every minute of it!”
The videographer insists that the bride and the groom implicitly placed their trust in him and didn’t burden him with any brief. There was only one request that proved to be a slight hitch in Punjabi’s stride: The song ‘Ranjha’ from Shershaah.
“Kiara and Sid were big fans of how we blend music and visuals in our films, and they wanted something special for their wedding video. They had a special connection to the song ‘Ranjha’, which they had performed together in Shershah. But, here’s the catch: the original lyrics were a bit of a bummer for a wedding, you know? I mean, it’s a great song, but not exactly the feel-good vibe we were going for.”
But Punjabi takes his vow of making the wedding film the happiest memory of the bride and groom’s life very seriously. So he set about to figure out a way of including the song in the wedding video without ruining the happy tone of the movie. “I rewrote the lyrics to be all about love, hope, and happiness, and Kiara was over the moon about it. She got her song, and I got to keep the magical feelings a wedding deserves. It was a win-win!”
This is exactly what sets The Wedding Filmer apart from its ilk. Each wedding is unique and special for the team, whether it’s a nationally-beloved celebrity or a regular couple who wants a memory they could cherish for a lifetime.
Before letting him go we had to ask: What is the secret behind his wedding films?
“Timelessness! That’s what I’m all about. You see, creating something that stands the test of time requires discipline and a whole lot of discretion. You can’t just run around with fancy cameras, light sabers and flash guns, making a scene. Nope, great shots are made by keeping cool, calm, and collected. And let me tell you, capturing those unforgettable moments isn’t about having an army of photographers, it’s about being patient, being present, and having the ability to centre yourself before pressing that record button. That’s when the magic happens.”
There you have it! Now if you’ll excuse us, we’d be in the corner, rewatching Advani and Malhotra’s wedding film and weeping over how beautiful it all looks.