Synopsis – Based on 1984 Delhi and describes bravery in the face of adversity and a resilient friendship. Jogi is an interesting and inspirational journey about the tenacity of three linked friends.
My Take – Independent India has seen a lot of inner turmoil. Severe political unrest, assassinations and religious clashes have marred the country’s history with blood and death.
One such tragedy were the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, which saw bloodthirsty mobs unleash danger, dread and doom on hundreds as a form of revenge for the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards due to her role in Operation Blue Star. A disaster that cannot and should not be forgotten.
While many films and web series based on the same premise have been created in the past, what makes this Ali Abbas Zafar (Tiger Zinda Hai, Bharat) directorial, which he co-wrote with Sukhmani Sadana (Rocketry: The Nambi Effect), different is that it focuses on courage and friendships that thrived during the political and communal tinge.
Resulting in a 116-minute drama that is both moving, captivating and makes light of the pain and suffering of the victims of the riots. Backed by Diljit Dosanjh‘s towering lead performance and intricate writing, the film conjures strong feelings of finding hope in the midst of devastation and tragedy.
Set roughly 5 months after Operation Blue Star, the story follows Joginder aka Jogi (Diljit Dosanjh), a charismatic young man from a working class family, whose world like many around him, is turned upside down following the Prime Minister’s assassination on the morning of October 31, 1984. As the news spreads, a wave of anti-Sikh riots begins to plague the nation as rioters go on a calamitous rampage across Delhi, massacring people from the community.
But rather than being self-centered and only concerned with saving his family, Jogi enlists the help of his childhood friends, Ravinder Chautala (Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub), a police inspector and Kaleem Ansari (Paresh Pahuja), a goods transport business owner, to band together in a noble yet dangerous effort to save hundreds.
However, their mission isn’t an easy one naturally because they’re not only facing a mob but also obstacles from Tejpal Arora (Kumud Mishra), a local councilor and the main instigator of the riots in East Delhi, and Laali Katyal (Hiten Tejwani), a police inspector who is assisting just out of his personal spite for Jogi.
Playing out over the three days that it took Indian Army to hit the streets of Delhi and bring the situation under control, the film showcases the atrocities committed during that horrific incident. It almost goes without saying that this one is a very well-intentioned film, telling a story of horrific times with dignity and compassion – and also perhaps with an eye to making a larger, more universally applicable statement about the vulnerability of minorities in a country where the politics of blood thirst and vengeance play out quickly.
Without holding back, it shows the violence against the Sikh people and how the police supported goons by supplying them with ammunition to go out there and create chaos. Hit lists were made of which Sikh people need to be killed.
Creating both tension and empathy, the film shows how people are killed or burnt alive, cluing in to his helplessness and fear. The biggest achievement of the film is that it depicts all characters as flawed and broken human beings, and not knights in shining armors. Even the antagonists are not religious fanatics but political opportunists, depicting a reality that has played out far too many times in modern-day India.
Yes, within the chaos, an unnecessary flashback depicting a love story and revealing the circumstances in which a wedge was driven between Jogi and Laali, a rupture that comes back to haunt the two men, derails the film for a while, nonetheless, once it returns to the film’s present it quickly enhances the previously existing tension.
Performance wise, considering how the focus is principally on Diljit Dosanjh, he shines the brightest as the heart and soul of the film. Proving his mettle once again as an outstanding actor. It helps that he is also hoisted by an able cast around him. Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub shines in his role as a police officer who decides to go against his superior to help Jogi in his quest to protect his family and neighbors from the relentless mob. Paresh Pahuja is solid as ever.
Hiten Tejwani is effective as the friend turned foe, appearing quite sincere every time he is on-screen. Armed with some incisive lines, Kumud Mishra performs commendably as self-seeking politician Tejpal Arora. Sadly, Amyra Dastur, despite her sincere turn is wasted. On the whole, ‘Jogi’ is an engaging and impactful hard-hitting drama bolstered by Diljit Dosanjh‘s outstanding performance.
Directed – Ali Abbas Zafar
Rated – TVMA
Run Time – 116 minutes