Indian actor Jimmy Shergill was in Mississauga to promote his new Punjabi-language film Rangeelay (meaning "colourful"), which is released worldwide on May 16.

Indian actor Jimmy Shergill was in Mississauga to promote his new Punjabi-language film Rangeelay (meaning "colourful"), which is released worldwide on May 16.

MISSISSAUGA — Jimmy Shergill is one of the most recognizable faces in the burgeoning Punjabi film industry. He is one of its most bankable stars and has been in several of the top-grossing Punjabi-language movies in recent years.

And yet, if there's one characteristic he emphasizes above all others, it is how rooted he is. Rooted in his Sikh beliefs and rooted in his Punjabi culture.

Shergill also wants to bring a reminder of their roots to Mississauga's substantial Punjabi community. On May 16, the 42-year-old actor's latest movie, Rangeelay (literally meaning "colourful"), will hit cinemas and he's hoping its blend of Punjabi humour, music and locations will win over ex-pats over here.

According to census data, nearly half a million Canadians speak Punjabi at home, making this country one of the most important markets for Punjabi films.

Shergill, who was in Mississauga to promote his film last week (April 8-13), says: "There are Punjabis who are born and brought up in Canada who might be listening to English songs, who might not be so in touch with their own culture. So when you get them into the theatre and they watch your films … they start connecting with their culture, with their language."

The premier of Rangeelay will be a major event at the Punjabi International Film Festival, which is taking place at locations in Mississauga, Brampton and Toronto from May 17-20.

Shergill describes the film itself as a feel-good movie for the whole family. It centres on the unlikely blossoming of love between Simmi (played by former Miss India Neha Dhupia) and Sunny (played by Shergill), a collection agent who comes to repossess her scooter. There's a few twists along the way and — this being Indian cinema — half-a-dozen song-and-dance numbers.

The film, whose name is a reference to the colourful characters it contains, is a return to lighter fare for Shergill following his 2011political film Dharti , which he describes as an "out of the box" attempt to engage with older audiences who have not yet embraced Punjabi cinema. For many years, Punjabi cinema was considered the poor relation of Hindi-language Bollywood films, but in the last decade there has been something of a boom in Punjabi movies.

"Now Punjabi films are made technically on a par with any other Bollywood film," he says. "The standard and production value is nothing less than any other Bollywood film or good movie."    

Rangeelay is already attracting attention in India, not least because it is the first Punjabi film for Dhupia, who is well known for her roles in Hindi movies.

"I acted earlier with her in a Bollywood movie called Dehlii Heights ," says Shergill, "but this ( Rangeelay ) is probably the best performance any actress has ever given in recent times."

Shergill was in Mississauga at the time of Vaisakhi, a major holiday in the Sikh calendar. In addition to his press duties, he also spent time visiting gurdwaras and Punjabi restaurants in the GTA to meet what he called his "very loyal, very emotional" audience. "It's about coming back and thanking them for the kind of response they've always given me," he says.