Cast: Diljit Dosanjh, Kumud Mishra, Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, Hiten Tejwani, Amyra Dastur, Paresh Pahuja, Neelu Kohli, Mikhail Yawalkar, Saurabh Chauhan, Sadanand Patil
Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Rating: 3 Moons
The Anti-Sikh riots of 1984 are a dark piece of Indian history when innocent people were targeted and killed for being a part of a particular religion. The riots which saw several thousand Sikhs killed and murdered stemmed as a repercussion of the assassination of Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at the hands of her own Sikh bodyguards. Her assassination on October 31, 1984 was brought about after 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. Netflix’s latest film Jogi tells about the massacre and aftermath faced by Sikhs after Indira Gandhi’s assassination in Delhi.
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Delhi, being one of the hotbed of the riots is home to our Sikh hero, Jogi (played by Diljit Dosanjh). The story revolves around how his family loses everything to the riots but how he manages to save them and his neighbours from the murderous mob hell-bent on killing them. Jogi can be best described as a film about friendship that transcends religious divide and hatred at a volatile time. Two friends, a Hindu policeman, Rawinder Chautala (played by Mhd.Zeeshan Ayyub) and a Muslim transporter, Kaleem (played by Paresh Pahuja) lend a helping hand to their friend Jogi in saving the lives of not only his family but also of his neighbours and get them to safety from Delhi to Mohali. How these three carry the secret evacuation plan of getting hundreds of Sikhs to safety from a burning Delhi is what Jogi is all about. Jogi plays out in the three days that it took the Indian Army to take control of the situation in the capital city.
Diljit plays the titular hero with aplomb. He manages to carry the film on his able shoulders right till the end and emotes well with silence, facial expressions and eyes full of emotions that speaks volumes. He shines but is let down by a weak screenplay. Mohd.Zeeshan Ayyub shines in his ‘hero ka friend’ role but could have been given more character arc to bring out his role in a more comprehensive way. The effortless Kumud Mishra as the conniving and vitriol-spewing councilor gets the short drift in Jogi. In his limited scope, Mishra performs well but he could have been given a bigger opportunity to showcase the menace and venom that he spews instead of just being a politician looking for his big ticket.
Director Ali Abbas Zafar’s story does not give much character development and does not create a good enough backstory for any of its characters. The film hinges on a gruesome part of history but presents it as a bland melodramatic feature intertwined with a love-story that comes out of the blue and proves unnecessary. The plot further loosens up when the story makes a detour and shows flashback of a time in college when a wedge was driven between Jogi and Laali Katiyal (Hiten Tejwani) which comes out in the future to hanker on their conscience later.
The film does manage to capture some of the horrors of the anti-Sikh riots but by the time we get to it, the tale starts to drag and monotony has set in. The tragedies also do not stick around with you for a film based on hard-hitting real incidents which is still extremely painful for a lot of people. The story does not give a lot of bandwidth to the actors to portray their craft convincingly and their backstories are not fleshed enough to give them any special leverage. The screenplay offers limited scope.
Jogi could have been a lot more with the premise it had but seems like a lost opportunity. It gets tangled up in its own predicament.
PeepingMoon.com gives Jogi, 3 Moons.