Mumbai, 17 Sep 2022 7:00 IST
The Ali Abbas Zafar film takes you by surprise with the riot angle brought in much earlier in the narrative.
In mainstream Hindi cinema, many films have featured various communal riots that have taken place in the country over the decades. But Ali Abbas Zafar’s Jogi (2022) isn’t just another film revolving around a riot for quite a few reasons.
The film tackles the 1984 Delhi riots where a large number of Sikhs were murdered. It all starts when India’s then-prime minister Indira Gandhi orders the military to turn the Golden Temple of Amritsar into a war zone in order to nab a few Khalistani extremists under Operation Blue Star in June that year.
In retaliation to the operation, Gandhi is assassinated on 31 October by a few of her Sikh bodyguards. The incident triggers anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and other parts of India, killing thousands of Sikhs.
Jogi weaves a fictional tale of survival around the riots. The story starts on the morning of 31 October 1984 when Joginder Singh aka Jogi (Diljit Dosanjh) and his family are getting ready for the day when he and his father are trapped in between the riots. They somehow escape and return home but with their lives under threat.
The local councilor Tejpal (Kumud Mishra) receives strict orders from his party to ensure that the police don’t stop the rioters. Realizing that the life of his friend Jogi and his family are in danger, Rawinder (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub), a cop, defies Tejpal’s orders and goes ahead to secretly relocate his family and a large number of Sikhs to Punjab. Their other close friend Kaleem (Paresh Pahuja) also provides timely help.
Generally, in films based on riots, one expects the story to build up to the action. But Jogi begins with the riots in the initial few minutes itself. It is later realized that the movie falls more in the genre of a survival thriller.
The film gets the tension and conflict part of the atmosphere right. But more importantly, as the group of Sikhs try escaping to Punjab, the narrative is filled with fraught moments that keep you glued as you feel dearly for their safety.
Dosanjh literally lives the journey of Jogi through an earnest performance. Ayyub, one of the regular collaborators of Zafar's, does justice to his character yet again. Kumud Mishra makes you hate his villainous Tejpal, in a good way.
Amyra Dastur is decent in an extended cameo. Hiten Tejwani gets more prominence later when he manages to impress.
Apart from the director and actors, the technical team also rises to the occasion. The production design by Rajnish Hedao, Snigdha Basu and Samit Basu, which successfully recreates the 1984 era of Delhi; Marcin Laskawiec’s crafty camerawork and smart use of background score by Julius Packiam play a major role in creating the desired effect.
The trailer of Jogi showed the happy lives of the protagonist and his friends in college and how it all goes awry after the riots. The film, however, doesn’t follow this path. As mentioned earlier, the violence angle is brought into the story much earlier. Hence, this makes you wonder about the structure of the storyline as the flashback part doesn’t arrive even after more than half of the film is over.
But one later realizes that the idea of hiding that part of the story works well, which can’t be revealed here to avoid spoilers.
However, the writers should have given at least some background of the bond between the three friends - Jogi, Rawinder and Kaleem. The film is being promoted as the story of three friends of three different faiths coming together for the cause of humanity. But their bond is kept superficial for unknown reasons.
This largely affects the character of Kaleem, who unfortunately doesn’t get much importance. Hence, Pahuja’s character too remains trivial, although he acts well. It seems like a story of two friends most of the times, instead of three.
But fortunately for Jogi, the positives overcome the minuses, which makes the film worth a watch.
Jogi is currently streaming on Netflix
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