Star Cast: Diljit Dosanjh, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Kumud Mishra, Paresh Pahuja, Hiten Tejwani
Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Right at the beginning of Jogi, director Ali Abbas Zafar introduces Diljit Dosanjh's protagonist with a shot where we see him looking into a mirror and slightly smiling when he ties his turban perfectly. As the film proceeds, this headgear symbolises something more than just a representation of the faith.
With some well-crafted scenes and emotions done right, the Tiger Zinda Hai director pulls off an evacuation thriller that talks about choosing friendship and hope during turbulent times.
What's Yay: Diljit Dosanjh
What's Nay: The finale act leaves you disappointed
Streaming on: Netflix
Set in Delhi, 1984, the events in Jogi unfold four months after Operation Blue Star which had caused anger and outrage among the Sikh community across the world.
When Joginder Singh AKA Jogi (Diljit Dosanjh) and his elderly father are flung off a DTC bus by angry passengers after the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, little do they know that there's another tragedy awaiting them at their home in Trilokpuri.
As they head towards their abode, the sight of the burning men and the bloodthirsty mob leaves Jogi horrified. However, he soon finds himself becoming the stumbling saviour of many Sikh families when a vitriol-spewing, shrewd local councillor Tejpal Arora (Kumud Mishra) singles out Sikhs from his constituency and announces a bounty on them for his political aspirations.
Spread over three days, the film then revolves around how Jogi along with his friends, Rawinder (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub), a cop and Kaleem (Paresh Pahuja), a truck driver sets out to save several lives that are at stake due to Tejpal's hunger for power.
Director Ali Abbas Zafar retells the horror of the 1984 Anti-Sikh massacre with a fictitious tale seen through the lens of friendship. Known for churning blockbusters like Sultan and Tiger Zinda Hai, he adapts a mainstream template for Jogi too and that works in its favour most of the time.
Zafar along with his writer Sukhmani Sadana, keeps the tension in the narrative intact throughout the film. The scene where a Sikh-smuggling truck stops at a supply farm infested with mobsters for fuel refilling has your heart in your mouth. The plot device of three people of different faiths uniting for a cause might sound a bit cliché, but Zafar succeeds to a large extent in keeping you engrossed in his storytelling with his effective scenes.
Having said that, the flashback sequence in the second half comes across as a bit misplaced but makes sense with respect to revealing the reason behind the action of one of the characters. One of the major letdowns of Jogi is Zafar reducing Tejpal's character to a caricature in the finale act and the watered-down climax which leaves you a tad unsatisfied.
Jogi belongs to Diljit Dosanjh. While we have often see the actor tickling our funny bone with his sense of humour, in this film, he gives us a glimpse of what a good actor he is. The way he portrays the innocence and helplessness of his character is remarkable.
There's a scene in the film where his character goes to Shams Baug to let go of his religious identity for a bigger cause. It's a close-up shot where Jogi, sitting by a water body, holds a few strands of his hair, looks at it with agonized eyes as a tear rolls down his eye. The way Diljit performs that sequence makes us realise that there's lots more to him than just playing breezy characters.
Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as the idealistic cop makes for a good team with Diljit and together, they make sure that there's enough going on the screen to keep you invested. Paresh Pahuja and Hiten Tejwani deliver what the script demands out of them.
Kumud Mishra gets a chance to make some impact before his role loses steam in the climax. Even though Amyra Dastur's cameo suffers from feeble writing, the actress makes sure that your eyes are on her.
Marcin Laskawiec's top-notch camerawork brings ample intensity and suspense on screen. Steven H Bernard with his taut editing makes sure that Jogi remains crisp from the first frame till the last.
The songs in Jogi flow organically with the writing. 'Mere Sang Ho Rahi Hain Tafreeaan' is a track which bringing in some easy-flowing vibe in an otherwise somber narrative. The background score works fine for the film.
There's a scene in Jogi where Diljit's character asks, "Samjh mein nahi aata nafrat ki itni aag logon ke dilon mein kaise hain." To this, Zeeshan's Rawinder replies, "Koi paida thodi hota hai nafrat ki aag leke. Achanak ek din apne dost apne padosi khoon ka pyaasa ho jaata hain." The latter's words ring true in the real world as well.
Despite the troupes in the narrative, Ali Abbas Zafar's Jogi still has your attention for putting out a larger message that hope is the one thing that can help us get through the darkest of times.
We give 3 stars out of 5 to Diljit Dosanjh's Jogi.