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Why Sardaar Ji's ghost will haunt Punjabi cinema

Sukant Deepak
Sukant DeepakJul 04, 2015 | 11:59

Why Sardaar Ji's ghost will haunt Punjabi cinema

Diljit Dosanjh is Jaggi Singh, the professional ghostbuster from rural Punjab who can babble non-stop and is invited to England to get a Victorian era cast with ugly interiors rid of a woman ghost Pinky played by Neeru Bajwa. Of course, he falls in love with her, and also with a Punjabi dance instructor Jasmine Kaur played by Mandy Takhar. In the end, he takes both of them back to Punjab.

That is the long and short of it. But writer Dheeraj Rattan, in the name of a film script for the "first Punjabi fantasy film" decides to treat the audience with knee-jerk Punjabi jokes for more than two hours.

Ultra-fit Dosanjh, the protagonist is a Jatt, waiting to punch anyone and everyone who forgets to add ji after Sardar. Neeru Bajwa, demonstrating a complete lack of acting skills is the ghost who dies after accidently falling from the castle during a party and decides to live there in her afterlife, making it a point to change into tight multicoloured costumes in every scene.

Oh yes, there are many ghosts in different sized bottles with the ghostbuster who make a friendly conversation with him now and then. The SFX seem to be by someone who has just learnt a new computer software and in the absence of the boss around, keeps playing with the machine.

The director, Rohit Jugraj Chauhan, who has added all masala of contemporary Punjabi cinema including men doing stunts on heavy cruiser Harley Davidson motorcycles while traditional Sikh martial arts are being depicted in the same frame, casually takes the audience's intelligence on one long bumpy ride where the lines between cinema and a street play become almost invisible.

sardaarji-poster_070415114339.jpg
 

Film: Sardaar Ji

Director: Rohit Jugraj Chauhan

Starring: Diljit Dosanjh, Neeru Bajwa, Mandy Takhar

One wonders why the movie has been pitched as the "first Punjabi fantasy film" considering the fact that most of the mainstream films made in this region are miles away not just from realism but also common sense.

Be it Sardaar Ji or other recent Punjabi films being made today, it is hard to decipher what makes Punjabi film writers and directors think that men in this region crack silly sexist jokes 24x7, punch anyone at the drop of a hat and lack even a hint of intensity. And what to talk about the clichéd portrayal of women who will fall for a man lacking even the basic etiquettes, chase them on streets and subject them to mindless humour, not to mention songs with horrible lyrics.

In 2012, Jatt and Juliet, directed by Anurag Singh released, the entire focus of mainstream Punjabi cinema shifted towards romantic comedies. The mainstream Punjabi film became synonymous with comedy as more and more films wanting to ape the success of Jatt and Juliet refused to offer anything new to the audience. The result was predictable, just like most Punjabi films -it bombed at the box office and property dealers who had become producers overnight decided to go back to their offices and check real estate forecasts in business newspapers again.

The only grace being that some directors like Pune-based Gurvinder Singh (Anhe Ghore Da Daan and Chauthi Koot) and Geneva-based Anup Singh (Qissa) who do not live in Punjab have brought forth a new narrative in Punjabi cinema with strong and sensible stories straight from the soil. Sadly, posters of their films are seen more prominently at international film festivals than the numerous multiplexes that dot this region's landscape. Maybe, someone needs to put them in a bottle and bring them straight to Punjab to make more films. Perhaps then, the ghosts haunting mainstream Punjabi cinema will be exorcised.

Last updated: July 04, 2015 | 12:01
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