They say 60 is the new 30 and Satinder Chawla simply proves it. It is never too late to try something new. At the time when people often plan retirement, Mr Chawla became an actor. Let us hear from him.
Born in Sagar, Madhya Pradesh, and brought up in Punjab, Satinder Chawla could never even imagine what his life had planned for him.
Aiming for a simple life, Satinder completed his Masters in Commerce and before long he joined Punjab & Sind Bank. As a loyal and a valued employee, Satinder served the bank for more than 25 years.
Satinder has a family of four, his wife Jaswinder and his two sons, the youngest of which decided to study in Australia. In 2005, when his son came to Melbourne, he loved the city and decided to settle down in Melbourne. In 2009, Satinder’s eldest son also decided to move to Melbourne. Missing their family, Satinder and his wife decided to come along.
In 2011, they arrived on the fine shores of Melbourne and the Chawla’s were reunited. However, coming to a new country at the age of 55 wasn’t very easy for Satinder.
Restarting his career in Melbourne, he volunteered at Melbourne Airport in customer care. He says, “the other challenge I had was understanding the Australian slang language. Though I have worked in a corporate job for so many years, yet it took me some time to understand the ‘Aussie slang’. Soon I passed that barrier too. My work at the airport helped in this process.”
Known for his work ethic, Satinder received appreciation in his new job as well. He was then appointed to work as a sales consultant at the Duty-Free in Arrivals at Melbourne Airport.
Meanwhile, missing the community spirit of India, Satinder and his wife started volunteering with various senior citizen associations. As a very ‘dear uncle’ of the community, he even helped many international students to find jobs. He says, “I came here with my set of apprehensions, but now I can say there is no place like Melbourne. The city, its people and the services it provides, everything makes it beautiful.”
Talking about his acting career, he said, “it was all a coincidence. Luckily a director asked me for a role as a father in a short film ‘Strings’. The experience of working with meaningful cinema encouraged me to play a character role in a domestic violence-based movie, ‘The Hidden Truth’. This movie was selected for IFFM 2016. After that, I was offered a role in a Punjabi movie ‘Big Daddy’. Since then, I haven’t stopped.”
Satinder was also awarded the best actor award in VIRASAT Punjabi Film Festival 2016 for the short movie ‘Haloona’, which also bagged the title of ‘Best short movie’.
He also got special appreciation in the Sikh Short Film Festival Australia.
Satinder is a self-trained actor with millions of viewers. Challenging his acting skills, he experimented by working in a silent movie ‘Karma’. His performance in ‘Karma’ was admirable. Satinder’s other projects such as ‘Nishchay Ker Apni Jeet Keroo’, ‘Sikhi meri jaan’ and many character roles in albums have put him in the spotlight. ‘Nishchay Kar Apni Jeet Karoo’ also received appreciation in the Sikh Short International Film Festival Australia 2018. Satinder has completed four full movies, 24 short movies and ten album songs. Many more projects are also in the pipeline, which will be out in the near future.
For the love of movies with a social message, Satinder has also directed four short films. His upcoming projects also include ‘Safar-e-Dastan’ and ‘Maa Sadke’. During this COVID-19 times, Satinder has been stood down from his Melbourne Airport job, however, he has completely engrossed himself in a home-based production to spread the message of fitness.
Playing different roles, Satinder has done a few poetry sessions as well. Pealing off more layers to his personality, he shadowed light on his sports endeavours. He is a brilliant Badminton player. He says, “I have inherited my love for sports from my dad, who had represented Madhya Pradesh State in Badminton. When I was young, I was holding the rank of camp commander in NCC (National Cadet Corps) and was also a winner of the firing competition.”
In recent times, as a sports lover, Mr Chawla has formed a club in Hume Area, known as Landmark Community Sports Club (LCSC). He has been an ‘AFL multicultural Ambassador’ for four continuous years, and in 2017 he was nominated as the ‘Sudhiraman Badminton Ambassador’. Satinder was also selected as the ‘Gold Coast Ambassador for Commonwealth Games 2018’. As a coordinator, he has been involved in the Sikh Games, Melbourne, 2019.
When asked about his biggest strength, he says, “life is a learning process, you need to accept life as it comes and should remain honest to yourself, your parents, family and the God almighty. My biggest strength is my wife, my family and of course, the continuous blessings of my parents, who I miss the most. Also, living in a country like Melbourne that accepts people with diverse backgrounds, I have been able to not just admit my Sikh identity but also to be soaked in my values to reflect and contribute in an equal way to the wider community. This inner acceptance of one’s true identity is the strength in itself.”
By Sanchita Abrol