Behind the Music With Filmmaker, Mother Punam Gill

PunamKGill Headshot

By Renu Jain Chandarana @renujc

Entertainment Writer

Entertainment Writer

Filmmaker Punam Kumar Gill’s short film on Kiran Ahluwalia: JUNO-Winning Singer, Songwriter, and Soulful Artist


Punam Kumar Gill is an independent filmmaker living in Calgary, Alberta.  You may have read the article I wrote about her last year – if not, you can find it here.

She’s been quite busy since I last spoke to her. Alongside being a mom of a busy toddler, she has been putting together one more project to add to her filmography, Ahluwalia+Abbasi: Unplugged on the Upper East Side. So far, her films have profiled her own dad, Ramesh Kumar – a monk-like man who taught a neighborhood of immigrants in Edmonton how to drive, Vikram Vij – an iconic Indian fusion chef in Vancouver, Amrita Singh – a jewellery designer in New York, and now, Indian Canadian folk singer and musician Kiran Ahluwalia and her husband Rez Abbasi- a celebrated Pakistani American Jazz artist.  They too live in New York.

So why short films?  Well Punam says, “My subjects could keep your interest for hours, so it is an exhilarating challenge to tell their story in under 10 minutes. With everything going online now, it just seemed fitting to keep my work short, accessible, and easy to share.” Kiran


Keeping the rhythm of her work beating, Ahluwalia+Abbasi: Unplugged on the Upper East Side is a 6-minute portrait of the couple as they share how they found their passions as well as each other.  They also discuss how they approached their families about marriage seeing as Kiran is from India and Rez is from Pakistan.  Punam says of the pair, “I love the idea that ‘love’ and the ‘creative process’ just go together.”  Kiran is a singer and musician who studied Indian and Pakistani song and music with a specific focus on ghazals.  Rez is not just her husband, but also her music director, arranger and producer.

Punam says, “As an Indian dancer myself, I’m drawn to people like Kiran who dedicate their lives to preserving an art form like ghazal – something that is typically an oral tradition that could easily just die with our gurus.”

PunamKGill Headshot

For the film’s production, Kiran and Rez welcomed Punam and her camera into their New York City apartment.  As Punam pressed record, her viewfinder revealed an intimate performance that was raw and soulful.  Rez Abbasi said, “We’re learning more about ourselves by doing this today.”  On working with Punam, Kiran says, “I love her indie spirit. Independent art is so important to our society’s health and growth.”


Here’s a trailer so you can see for yourself what it’s like to be in the home of Kiran Ahluwalia and Rez Abbasi while they jam:

[vsw id=”61647776″ source=”vimeo” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]


Also, a huge treat for our readers and any fans of Kiran and Punam’s – Masalamommas is hosting a live Tweet Chat with them both, taking place from 8-9pm EST on Wednesday, March 27th 2013, follow hastag #mmtalks.   This is your chance to ask questions to both Punam and Kiran.  Questions like: “Kiran, where did you learn the art of Fado singing and how have you incorporated it into your work?” or how about “Punam, name someone is no longer alive that you would have loved to do a short film on?”


Send us your questions by March 26 to:

1)   You can email your questions to

2)   Or tweet @masalamommas,  or myself @RenuJC

The best question will win an autographed version of Kiran’s latest CD Aam Zameen.

For those of you who don’t know, a live Tweet Chat just involves you and your electronic device. Then, let the tweet chitter chatter begin!

To learn a little bit more about Kiran Ahluwalia and her husband Rez Abbasi, visit their respective websites: and


Punam’s film will be touring film festivals across North America and India, with online release later in 2013.


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