A nail-biting tear-jerker with a bittersweet ending
From the time the trailer for Netflix’s Diljit Dosanjh starter ‘Jogi’ released, there had been a lot of chatter about this movie. The Punjabi singer and actor had slowly made his way into Bollywood. Jogi marks another hybrid venture from the fan-favourite actor that keeps viewers at the edge of their seats in a gripping, 2-hour-long movie.
Jogi is emotional and jarring to many who are closely linked to the riots, especially viewers from the Sikh community. Jogi has an ending that will surely make emotional individuals shed a tear or two.
Based on the 1984 Anti-Sikh riots, Jogi tells the story of a Sikh man named Jogi whose goal is to save his family, friends and fellow neighbours from a massacre that killed thousands of Sikhs.
After the assassination of the Indian Prime Minister by two Sikh men, the public sentiment against the entire clan had changed overnight and people had started growing blood-hungry.
Taking advantage of the acrimony of the masses, a politician tries to channel his greed by fuelling the massacre and eliminating all Sikhs from Delhi’s Trilokpuri in order to seek a higher political position. Jogi centers on a story of a man and his best friends who are all striving to save the Sikhs from being brutally murdered.
Going into the movie, I expected great bloodshed and a brutal massacre. Although we do get that, Netflix’s Jogi is a muted version of the truth. The gripping truth about the way many innocent Sikhs were killed is overlooked in order to fit the plot of Jogi saving his neighbours and friends.
The little part of the brutal massacre that was shown however, is both tight and infuriating. It makes your blood boil so much so that you wish our main man would go in guns blazing and avenge the death of his family members and fellow Sikhs.
However, that is not what a common man faced with life and death would do and the story highlights how the biggest goal of the Sikhs was not to attack and avenge but escape and survive. Jogi’s survival instincts kick in and he does something most Sikhs would never imagine doing – he chops off his hair.
The first half of Jogi is gripping and exciting whereas the second half is emotionally draining. One scene in particular that sent chills down my spine depicts Jogi and his cop friend, Rawinder, scanning the colony for carcasses of Sikhs in order to convince Tejpal.
The Sikhs that were left to burn and die in cars, on the street, and inside their homes were all very jarring for someone who is learning about the brutal riots for the first time. The movie, with its nuanced cinematography, aims to highlight the issues significant to the Sikh community.
The idea of sacrifice can be seen when Jogi looks at the chopped hair as his neighbour chops her son’s long mane. In a similar way, Jogi’s hair is brought towards his face as he himself cuts his hair. When Kaleem remembers to take Jogi’s Kada (Sikh bangle) from his hand, an ornament that defines Sikh swordsmanship, it implied that without his hair and Kada, Jogi was essentially powerless.
Despite that, he tried his best to save his people which makes the movie a story revolving around the victory of good over evil and right over wrong. At times though, this movie can seem half-baked with its muted retelling of a wild and brutal massacre. However, some performances really stand out.
Diljit plays a rather soft-spoken and muted character which is why this movie feels so refreshing. He’s not playing a loud and obnoxious stereotype that Bollywood has set for the Sikhs, but a realistic version of someone who is dealing with a traumatic life event. Casting an actual Sikh was probably the makers’ best choice and Diljit really has my heart with his performance in and as Jogi.
Other than Diljit, actors like Hiten Tejwani and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub really portray two different kinds of friendship in Jogi. Hiten is really good as a villain so it is refreshing seeing him play a grey character aside from the usual ‘righteous man’ image he is known for over the years.
Kumud Mishra is good as Tejpal too, but not as menacing as a thrilling story like this would expect. Amyra Dastur did her best as Kammo but the plot of Jogi’s lover seemed forced only to create conflict and to justify the anger behind Laali’s actions.
Just like many other movies with a patriotic backdrop, Jogi too has an emotional background score. The dialogue is powerful but not overwhelming, with a religious sentiment which is playing safe for a movie like this.
Personally, I really liked the movie. I wish there was more drama or chaos to it in order to justify the bittersweet end. Since the main focus of the movie was the massacre, the sudden romantic aspect with Kammo seemed abrupt.
The makers could have started with an introduction of Jogi’s love interest and set up his conflict with Laali, in the beginning, to justify the latter’s enraged drive to have Jogi killed. With all that being said though, Jogi is a nail-biting watch that keeps you wanting to reach the end in order to see the Sikh community finally get the freedom they deserve.
Read More: Jogi Ending Explained
Verdict - 7.5/10