Jogi – now on Netflix – is an intense and moving drama set against the backdrop of the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. Although the film features fictional characters, it feels realistic as the narrative manages to highlight the human cost of the tragedy.
Jogi revolves around Joginder (Diljit Dosanjh), a charming young man from a working-class family. His world, like the world of many people around him, was turned upside down after the assassination of the prime minister. He soon finds himself fighting for his survival as ‘Delhi burns’. The rest of the film revolves around his attempts to protect his people from the impending danger.
Just the fact that Jogi is tackling such a sensitive issue makes it a commendable effort. Its inherently hard-hitting plot reaches its potential thanks to a fairly well-written screenplay.
Jogi opens with a scene in which the protagonist is getting ready for work. We see him spending time with his family and talking about his plans for the birthday party that is to be held that evening. This sequence is highly relatable and makes it easy for you to instantly connect with the action of the reel.
The creators then proceed to “show” the destruction caused by the riot. In a particularly disturbing scene, a character is burned alive in his shop through no fault of his own. In another equally emotional sequence, the protagonist stoically tries to comfort a character after he loses a loved one in the riots. The staging of the scene is quite impressive, as is the silence speaking, which is considered a sign of good storytelling.
Jogi then unfolds as a survival drama as Joginder, with the help of a friend (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub), tries to help his loved ones escape to safety. This sets the stage for some chilling sequences that hit the right notes with their organic intensity. The action scene involving Diljit and Zeeshan also works well. It looks realistic and raw. There is absolutely nothing even slightly exaggerated about it. However, it’s the heart-wrenching climax that turns out to be the film’s best sequence.
On the other hand, the placement of a key flashback scene could have been better. This means that it can set the stage for an emotional exchange between two characters. The pacing is also a little slow at certain points in the opening half-hour, but that’s not a major problem.
Performance-wise, Diljit is the heart and soul of Jogi. He underplays things quite beautifully and lets his eyes do the talking. Zeeshan is awesome too. The actor internalizes the character and gets the accent right. However, Hiten Tejwani does not have enough space. That said, he’s pretty honest every time he’s on screen.
There is not much scope for music in Jogi as it is a highly realistic drama. Thankfully, the makers are reluctant to add songs to the narrative. The cinematography and lighting match its grim and heartbreaking premise. Other technical aspects are up to par.
To sum it up, Jogi is a bold and effective attempt by Ali Abbas Zafar, which is a testament to director Sultan being a storyteller.