Film: Sardaar Ji
Cast: Diljit Dosanjh, Mandy Takhar, Neeru Bajwa
Director: Rohit Jugraj
The market for regional films is growing every year, driven largely by an enthusiastic overseas audience. A good chunk of this NRI market is made of Punjabis, known for their exuberance and an eagerness to keep in touch with home. This is one reason why we now see many popular singers -- from Diljit Dosanjh and Gippy Grewal to Honey Singh, Raftaar, Baadshah, and many more -- trying their luck in acting as well. Their albums and films inevitably feature foreign locations and bank upon the idea of patriotism. The same is the case with Sardaar Ji too.
Diljit and Gippy escalated their game by featuring in full-length Punjabi films, and very soon they will be making their debuts in Bollywood as well: Gippy in Second Hand Husband, and Diljit with Shahid Kapoor's Udta Punjab.
Given their stardom, it was only natural to look forward to Rohit Jugraj's Sardaar Ji. But, is it as easy as it sounds? Let’s find out.
Diljit Dosanjh is a ghostbuster in Sardaar Ji.
First things first. Jugraj deserves all the credit for coming up with an interesting theme: Sardaar Ji is a ghostbuster who earns his livelihood by taming ghosts and witches (chudail) and traps them in a bottle, more like a genie. (In case you want to cross-check Jugraj’s track record: He is the same director who made James in Hindi, and Jatt James Bond in Punjabi).
So, our hero Jaggi (Diljit) is invited by a 'vilaity' couple (they live in London, where else) who is getting ready for their wedding in a castle. The queen is also expected to attend this high profile marriage, but there is a problem... a supernatural one. The castle is haunted by Pinky (Neeru Bajwa), a witch fondly called Pindky.
Sardaar Ji meets Jasmine in London.
Now, when we have Neeru Moge Wali and Diljit Dosanjh sharing screen space, you expect the film to be a sequel to Jatt and Juliet. Jugraj doesn't disappoint you on this count: From Moga to Sangroor, he refers to many known cities of Punjab, and goes on to establish a platonic relationship between an exorcist and a witch, of course in a light way.
So far so good. Now we are introduced to the twist: a salsa trainer, Jasmine (Mandy). As expected, Jasmeene (I mean Jasmine) falls for Dosanjh's 'magnetism', but there’s something that needs to be discussed before she takes the final leap of faith. This is no easy task, and our beloved Sardaarji is required to pull together all his strength to jump through the ring of fire.
Jugaraj has used Diljit's comic timing to the hilt. Diljit is a natural actor, and it was a good decision to give him the spotlight for most part of the film. Sadly, a lethargic screenplay is too much of a task for him to work around.
Dheeraj Rattan’s story opens on a fine note, but fails to sustain the momentum it built after the first 45 minutes. It is predictable and moves at a slow pace, especially when the premise shifts to London. Plots get repetitive after a point, and the jokes stale. Jaggy and Jasmine's love story appears forced, and it seems to be there to serve just one purpose: To ensure there is not too much focus on comedy.
Watch: Sardaar Ji Trailer
Not that there is nothing that redeems Sardaarji. It sure has some well thought-out plot points: Like the smart touch to the back stories of the principal characters. In fact, these stories add a lot of value to an otherwise run-of-the-mill presentation. At places, even the film's dialogues try to restrict it from going off-track. It’s all about the timing in Sardaar Ji and Diljit is good at it.
Sardaar Ji is completely dependent on Diljit Dosanjh’s stardom, and he doesn’t disappoint. But the film loses its sheen somewhere in the second half. Mandy Takhar is fresh and it’s good to see such actresses on screen who look like normal women and not like another size zero model. But she has to learn a lot when it comes to acting.
The 150-minute-long Sardaar Ji can be a fun watch provided you don’t watch it with a very critical eye.
(Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/ @nawabjha)
Read other film reviews here.