Punjabi movie breaks the macho circle with a punch

In an industry synonymous with slapstick comedy and raucous gangster films, where very few directors have managed to produce anything of significance, Anmol Sidhu’s debut film ‘Jaggi’, which will have its world premiere at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles 2022 (IFFLA), and will also screen at the New Delhi Film Festival is quite a shock.

In the debut feature from this MBA and MCA holder, rural Punjab’s famed fertile farmland belies dark family secrets, dark cycles of exploitation and a vain spin of error and superstition.

No one realizes this better than Jaggi, the son of a police officer whose helplessness is continually misinterpreted by his high school peers. Jaggi must be gay, concoct these college boys, and therefore has the right to be mugged. When Jaggi finds himself in a relationship, can he break out of this cycle of abuse?

“I have seen several such incidents during my school years. Some things find a permanent place in your memory. When something similar happened in a village near mine, I knew it time to work on this theme,” Sidhu told IANS.

Interestingly, during the lockdowns induced by the Covid-19 pandemic, Sidhu and his friend Dhruv Bakshi raised funds through crowdfunding and bought a camera.

“And we started shooting. Everyone was working for free because there was no money to pay anyone,” he smiles.

Emphasizing that it was important for him to make the film in Punjabi as it is a tale from this region, he regrets that most Punjabi films tend to steer clear of realism and prefer to depict a world that is not does not exist.

“How long can we escape? If you look at the data, 90% of the movies made here are comedies or gang wars. This industry is only driven by profit. Very few people want to tackle anything seriously, so rather than telling their own stories, the directors here prefer tales that people want to see.”

Sidhu, who was part of a theater troupe in Chandigarh for three years, started working as a dubbing artist making short films and documentaries. “Jaggi” was originally conceived as a short film and he revisited the script during the lockdowns, rewriting it into a feature film.

“This process was very successful. I was able to explore a lot more nuances and add layers,” he says.

Delighted that the film is having its world premiere at IFFLA, the filmmaker says: “As an independent director, it is extremely important that your film obtains prestigious platforms. I am delighted that it is seen among many beautiful films.

Awaiting screenings of the film at other festivals, Sidhu is currently researching and writing his next film.