Jogi Movie Review: Ali Abbas Zafar Paints A Mournful Picture Of 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots With Diljit Dosanjh Mastering The Atmospheric Narrative
Jogi Movie Review Rating:
Star Cast: Diljit Dosanjh, Amyra Dastur, Kumud Mishra, Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub, Hiten Tejwani, Paresh Pahuja, Neelu Kohli
Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Jogi Movie Review Out! ( Photo Credit – Poster from Jogi )
What’s Good: The melancholic BGM coupled with dramatic cinematography & intriguing screenplay have you invested in the horrific aftermath of a tragic incident that disrupted the multicultural fabric of the society
What’s Bad: It falls for the motifs (love story, friendship) that don’t improve the story as they lack having narrative significance compared to the things (drama, emotions) that work for the film
Loo Break: You’ll get a couple of chances, especially in the second half
Watch or Not?: A big fat yes even if you’re a historian knowing all about the incident it highlights
Available On: Netflix
Runtime: 116 Minutes
Set roughly 5 months after (October 1984) the ‘Operation Blue Star’ (June 1984) which was a military operation carried out by the Indian Government to remove Damdami Taksal, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and their followers from the buildings of the Golden Temple. Upon the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, the wave of anti-Sikh riots plagued the nation.
Delhi, being one of the most affected areas, is home to our lead in the film Jogi (Diljit Dosanjh). His is one of the families which lost everything to the 1984 riots but how he managed to not only evacuate the people he know but also those who didn’t form the crux of the story. He takes help from his two friends, first a Police Officer in Delhi Police Rawinder Chautala (Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub) & second Kaleem (Paresh Pahuja). How these three carry a secret evacuation plan carrying hundreds of Sikhs from Delhi to Mohali as the Capital burns amid the flames of riots is what the rest of the story is all about.
Jogi Movie Review Out! ( Photo Credit – Still from Jogi )
Jogi Movie Review: Script Analysis
Ali Abbas Zafar teams up with Sukhmani Sadana (Rocketry) to pen the story around a topic which would forever enrage people who have been a part of the inhumane activities it came with. The narrative of the story revolves around an extremely strong commentary on the Anti-Sikh Riots with an individual’s point-of-view of how this ruthless political episode impacted the lives of innocent people who were targeted, punished, and killed for no crime other than being from a particular religion.
Ali & Sukhmani’s writing relies heavily on Marcin Laskawiec’s cinematography & Julius Packiam’s background score to create the melancholic atmosphere filled with tension in every single scene. All that works well until the narrative shifts from majorly focusing on the massacre to just highlighting Jogi’s personal journey, which comes with some predictable & passable twists. The second half falters only when the personal conflicts between Jogi & his friend Lali are highlighted, which loosens the firm grip which the screenplay had since the start.
Back in 2018, Jagdish Kaur, whose family was killed in 84’s riots, informed in an interview that she performed the last rites of her husband, son & cousins three days after their deaths, after making a pyre of the furniture and items left in the house. This statement brought goosebumps to whoever became aware of such remorseless incidents that happened back then & I kind of expected Ali to go deeper in portraying the pain of the victims (at least from the real-life incidents shared by people) of the massacre. Things might also have been kept restricted to retain the sensitivity to live-open the old wounds many would be still fighting to overcome.
Marcin Laskawiec’s cinematography is top-notch! Pun intended because the amount of top-down shots here is too much but I’m not complaining at all because of how good they stitch two scenes together making the tight lanes of Delhi look tauter. Marcin also masters the dramatic panning without any cuts in a single-take shot to amplify the tension on screen.
Jogi Movie Review: Star Performance
Diljit Dosanjh is the extremely obvious choice to lead a film on this topic won’t come as a shocker to those who have seen him delivering a heart-wrenching performance in Punjab 1984. He does all this & also goes on to nail subjects like Jatt & Juliet, Good Newwz, and Udta Punjab which prove his versatility more than ever. The innocence in his eyes screams how personal this incident is to him not as an actor, but as a human. Diljit stays true to his name winning hearts all over again! With Jogi, he doesn’t just make you feel his pain but takes you through the struggles of an entire community of which you might still be unaware.
Kumud Mishra is in all his grey elements perfecting the role of a corrupt politician. Though I wish his character had a few surprises up his sleeve for the shock element which was missing. He was doing what you’d expect or hope a corrupt politician would do to step up the ladder. He’s best at what he does but what he did wasn’t sure the best thing about the film.
Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub, Hiten Tejwani & Paresh Pahuja extend the required support to our lead character with Zeeshan being the best of the lot. Zeeshan’s Rawinder is written to be Jogi’s aide throughout and the character build-up is nice to create an emotional connection between them. That’s the major thing lacking between Jogi and Hiten’s Lali, and Paresh’s Kaleem, none of those characters is sketched to let the angle of ‘friends of different faiths unite to save people from this tragic incident’ flourish throughout the film. Neelu Kohli as Jogi’s mother leads a couple of impactful scenes managing to transfer the pain through her impeccable act.
Jogi Movie Review Out! ( Photo Credit – Still from Jogi )
Jogi Movie Review: Direction, Music
This had to be Ali Abbas Zafar’s least ‘commercial’ film story/screenplay-wise owing to the subject it highlights & that’s what it exactly is. Though it comes with its pros & cons, we get to see a completely subtle side of Zafar who can handle & master scripts we wouldn’t have thought he could before attempting this. This is Zafar’s take on what Shoojit Sircar did with Sardar Udham Singh, which set a standard for me. Is his take worthy enough? A considerable yes because of how well he disperses tension through his screenplay. With few speed-breakers in the second half, Ali Abbas Zafar paints a mournful picture of the pain suffered by a community keeping Diljit Dosanjh’s Jogi at the centre stage.
Julious Packiam designs a background score which is meant to be felt more than listening in this one. As for Ali, this is also Julious’ first attempt at working on a project that doesn’t have commercial elements to experiment around with. This helps Packiam to explore the wild west of creating tensity with sound. The echoes, the silence & the thumps in the score make it flow smoothly along with the drama on-screen.
Jogi Movie Review: The Last Word
All said and done, Jogi narrates a heart-paining incident highlighting the personal journey of an individual getting impacted by the manufactured chaos, that disrupted the multicultural fabric of the society.
Three and a half stars!
Jogi releases on 16 September, 2022.
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