There are films which leave such a strong impact on your heart beyond what anyone would expect from a piece on celluloid. ‘Jogi’ starring Diljit Dosanjh is one such film. It is a cry of every Sikh which has been awaited to be written for a long time and we are glad that Ali Abbas Zafar took it up.
The story of the film begins from October 31,1984 – almost five months after Operation Blue Star which was carried out by the Indian government to remove Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale and his followers from the Golden Temple, which damaged Sikh’s holy shrine. Following it, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards at her own residence which caused riots across the whole country against the Sikh community. Same was the condition in Gali No. 6, Trilokpuri, Delhi where our protagonist Joginder Singh aka Jogi (played by Diljit Dosanjh) lives with his parents and family.
People of power try to take advantage of the situation for their own benefits and just like that Trilokpuri’s MLA Tejpal Arora (played by Kumud Mishra) realises that if he massacres Sikhs in his constituency there are more chances of him getting a ticket in Lok Sabha elections. He orders Inspector Chautala (played by Zeeshan Ayyub) who also happens to be Jogi’s childhood friend to help the rioters in the massacre. In the brutality, Jogi’s brother-in-law Tajinder (played by KP Singh) who lives in the same locality has been burnt alive along with his shop.
What follows ahead is a story of a common man turned hero. In such an adverse situation, Jogi and his two friends – Rawinder Chautala (played by Zeeshan Ayyub) and Kaleem (played by Paresh Pahuja) stand up for humanity trying to save as many lives as possible without caring about their own fate. The mutual love between three friends of three different religions is shown deeply.
Anti-sikh riots of 1984 are a reminder of how barbaric and ruthless humans sometimes become. And when you show such sensitive incidents on screen you’ve a big responsibility on your shoulders and it won’t be any wrong if we say ‘Jogi’ understands and does complete justice to this without being politically biased. Unlike most of Ali Abbas Zafar’s films there is no glitz and glamour. Here is the harsh reality of life. There are hurting wounds which pierce you at the right place. Many times films have been made in both Hindi and Punjabi cinema on the anti-sikh riots but ‘Jogi’ comes out differently. Ali Abbas Zafar and Sukhmani Sadana’s screenplay is simple but engaging. The riot scenes and emotional sequences are very well executed adding the thrill element too.
As someone who has mostly seen Diljit in comic and light roles, it was totally refreshing for me to see him in a new avatar where he gets to display every aspect of his character to the fullest. You don’t feel like you’re watching a film, instead you relate to Diljit’s Jogi’s pain. There is a scene where he cuts his hair. As the scissors move on his braid, tears roll down not just through his eyes but the viewers’ too irrespective of the fact whether you’re a Sikh or not – that’s the depth of his acting. Also, I would like to give it to Diljit for choosing the subject of his films. The courage that big names of cinema couldn’t muster, Diljit is continuously bringing it to mainstream and how!
Another actor who makes a strong impact with his performance is Kumud Mishra as a murderous leader who tries to incite violence. He brings you to the point where you hate his character to the core. Zeeshan Ayyub and Paresh Pahuja do their part well but their characters are just limited to being Jogi’s shadow. Hiten Tejawani’s work is impressive as Lali, a grey shaded cop who wants to avenge his sister’s death. Amayra Dastur’s part feels genuinely unnecessary and half-cooked. The sliver of love story between Diljit and her could have been avoided for good.
All in all, ‘Jogi’ is a kind of film which brings some harsh and cruel reality from the past on display with which a huge section of our society is still unaware. It does have its flaws such as the slowness of script, weak music and some half-baked scenes but with the honesty the whole compilation is done we don’t mind ignoring it. The film nowhere tries to be preachy or carries some sort of agenda, but it definitely leaves you thinking after completing 2 hours of watch. There are so many things happening around us that we just read in the newspaper or see in the news, but what if it happens to you – is the question we’re left asking to ourselves!
‘Jogi’ is now streaming on Netflix!