The man behind the lens: Vishal Punjabi of The Wedding Filmer talks about being at the forefront of wedding filmmaking in India

The ace director spills the beans on what makes a wedding film truly memorable, his favourite weddings, and journey so far.

For 42-year-old Vishal Punjabi, storytelling has always been an art form. One that he has perfected over the years, initially working in advertising and films, and then moving on to launch his own venture, The Wedding Filmer, in 2010. Now, over a decade later, his company is one of the most coveted when it comes to wedding films. In many ways, he pioneered the concept of wedding videography, elevating it to include dreamy sequences and the myriad emotions that a couple goes through on their big day. His repertoire includes shooting several celebrity weddings, from Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli, to Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, Vicky Kaushal and Katrina Kaif, and most recently, Kiara Advani and Sidharth Malhotra’s dreamy nuptials in Rajasthan. 


Known for capturing candid, whimsical moments that truly make a wedding shine, as well as creating original compositions, the Ghana-born founder and director chats with us about his career, what makes a film truly memorable and what’s next for him. Edited excerpts: 

You recently shot the Sid-Kiara wedding, one of the many celebrity weddings in your repertoire. How was the experience?

It was a very beautiful wedding. In my opinion, shooting a wedding is much easier than the process that precedes it. It is always magical, right from when we meet the couple for the first time, to conducting their interviews, understanding what they want out of their wedding film, and then executing it. Seeing the smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes when they watch it for the first time has to be the most rewarding part of my work. 

Weddings can be overwhelming, and it's easy to miss certain moments. However, when you watch your wedding film with your loved ones, you can relive the day and experience it in a whole new way. 

Glimpses of the wedding video on social media garnered millions of views in a span of a few days. What was your thought behind recreating that particular song, Ranjha?
Kiara insisted on walking towards Sidharth on Ranjha. I was not keen on it. It's a beautiful but sad song. We wanted to give her that special moment of walking towards him on ‘their’ song, so we got to work and composed the song again with happier lyrics that would fit the occasion. I think one of the most memorable moments was when they heard the reworked version of Ranjha for the first time. Sid had a wide smile on his face and Kiara had tears in her eyes. That's when I knew that it was a job well done.

What, according to you, makes a wedding film unique?

There are several things to it. It’s not only the beautiful couple in front of the camera or the glitz and glam of a big, fat wedding, but also the love that brought them to this stage in the first place. If you watch our wedding films, you'll notice that they follow the structure of traditional movies with an introduction, a middle sequence and a conclusion. We compose a unique background score for each film, and the film itself contains a story. The goal is to evoke emotions from viewers, as we typically capture heightened emotions throughout the wedding which are then condensed into a short film.

Everyone wants a priceless memory, and I love being the one to give them something that they will cherish forever.

You stumbled into wedding filmmaking and today your brand is one of the leading names in the industry. In many ways, you revolutionised wedding filmmaking. How would you describe your journey so far? 
Initially, when I began The Wedding Filmer, many people questioned my decision to leave my job with Shah Rukh Khan and focus on weddings instead. However, I saw potential and promise in this field. Working with Farah Khan for Main Hoon Na, Amol Palekar for Paheli, Farhan Akhtar for Don, and Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti for Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. gave me various insights into onscreen sensitivity and the art of filmmaking. 

Over the past decade I have shot more than 550 weddings, met 1,100 brides and grooms, over 2,000 parents, and been at the forefront of capturing the love on these special days. Even today, it still feels magical with every couple's journey that we get to be a part of.

What are some popular wedding destinations this year? Are couples increasingly choosing offbeat locations?
Destinations like Italy, Thailand and Udaipur always do well because there are so many couples who have their eyes set on these locations for their big day. But I cannot take away from the fact that I have shot at some very unique locations over the years, aand almost over 200 cities across the world. 

Some of these include Seychelles— very remote, and very beautiful. Then there's also Montreux— we shot the couple's pheras in front of the Alps and Lake Geneva! Oh my! And not to forget Ladakh; to get married with the mighty mountains framing the backdrop and burying souvenirs of your relationship in the vastness of the desert to come back to 50 years later! We had a ceremony like that in a film we made.


You're known for capturing raw emotions and memorable moments. What is it that you look for when shooting such moments at weddings? 
I think the interviews are the best part for me. You get to relive the love story through the couple. Chatting with their family and friends while they narrate their version of the couple’s love story, seeing them get emotional over memories, that is what I love capturing, because when you watch the wedding film at the end, these small interviews hold the most value. 

I try to capture the couples' raw reactions when they see each other for the first time on their wedding day. The look of joy on the faces of the family members when the couple is married, the fun that the friends have during the sangeet and mehendi. It's all very important for the storytelling in the film.

Any advice for couples on choosing destinations for their wedding and styling their wedding film?
I think it is important to choose a beautiful backdrop for your big day, because those are moments you remember and look back at forever. It need not be grand, but should be meaningful and beautiful. As for the styling of the wedding film, that should be based on the story of the couple, the moments and the memories that need to be captured.

All I can say is that if the couple enjoys every moment and stays true to themselves and their story, then they will have a beautiful wedding film, no matter what.

Images courtesy: The Wedding Filmer and Instagram 


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