Sardaarji helmed by Rohit Jugraj is a fun filled fantasy film that takes you on a joyride and further cements the fact that Punjabi Cinema is evolving and growing in stature with due course of time. Back in 2014, while most of Punjabi filmmakers were obsessed with comedy genre and were churning out mindless comic flicks one after another, Rohit Jugraj broke fresh ground and helmed a thriller Jatt James Bond (April 2014) which was lapped up by the audience. So, when it was announced that Rohit Jugraj is directing Sardaarji with Diljit Dosanjh & Neeru Bajwa playing main leads, expectations were bound to be high. Is Sardaarji able to live upto those expectations and the answer is affirmative. Trust Rohit Jugraj to offer something invigorating to Punjabi audience. If Jatt James Bond was a thriller whose basic premise revolved around a bank robbery, Sardaarji is a quirky rom-com albeit with a difference. This rom-com's premise gyrates around spirits and a Ghost-buster played by the charming Diljit Dosanjh. We have to give it to the makers for believing in this subject and offering Punjabi Celluloid, its first fantasy driven feature film. The fun quotient of the movie begins right from the beginning with a disclaimer ; No Ghost has been harmed while shooting this film. This disclaimer is evident enough to prove what the rest of the movie has in store to offer the audience ; Guffaws, rib tickling comedy, well timed comic punches. Rohit Jugraj has inter-wined comedy, romantic track, sentiments and fantasy elements in a perfect blend, although emotions & romantic track in the second half goes a bit lengthy & awry but I still give to Jugraj. Its heartening to see Punjabi filmmakers coming out of the shell and taking risk by offering something novel, vivifying on Punjabi celluloid instead of churning out same old routine run of the mill stuff. Through Sardaarji Punjabi silver screens gets to see its first charming, witty Ghost-buster in the form of Diljit Dosanjh on celluloid and he doesn't disappoint with his funny antics.
STORY & SCREENPLAY (SPOILERS AHEAD) :: The story as well as screenplay of the movie has been penned down by Dheeraj Rattan and the credit for writing the dialogues for the movie goes to Jatinder Lall. The story of the movie is not only gripping but it also has something new and fresh to offer to Punjabi audience. The script is laden with witty one liners and comic punches remain a constant feature throughout the movie. The first half of the movie is an absolute delight and it is in the second half that the movie nosedives a bit with the usual emotional content and romantic track thrown in but overall it's a novel attempt. The film begins in England where an affluent person by the name of Bilaal is planning to get married at Craigdarroch Castle. Queen of England has promised to attend his reception but his troubles begin when the Castle is declared haunted. Since Queen has principally agreed to attend his reception, he can't change the venue. He seeks services of several ghost-busters who are shooed away by the spirit in the castle. Cut next, scene shifts to Punjab and we are introduced to a Sardaarji by the name of Jaggi (Diljit Dosanjh) with a special power that helps him in connecting with beings from another realm. He is not only apt at catching Ghosts but has also preserved them in bottles lying at his home. Bilaal comes to know about him and calls him to England so that he can free the castle from the evil spirit for getting his marriage solemnized there. Upon entering the castle, Jaggi comes to know that a spirit is residing in the castle whose name is Pinky (Neeru Bajwa). She fell down from the top floor of the castle and died there. Jaggi tries all the tricks in the book to befriend Pinky so that she can leave the castle but she is adamant not to move from there. Jaggi inquires about her past and comes to know that she was a well known dancing star before her death. Jaggi falls in for lady ghost & is finally able to woo her but Pinky puts forward a condition for her to leave the castle. She wants Jaggi to bring Jasmine (Mandy Takhar) inside the castle. Now, Jaggi starts pursuing Jasmine posing as a dance student because Jasmine is a Salsa dance teacher. He cocoons several stories to hide his real identity & motive of coming to England from her and charms her with his effervescent persona. Soon, sparks ignite between both of them and they fall in love with each other. Will Jaggi reveal his identity & reason for coming to England to Jasmine, What is the motive of Pinky behind calling Jasmine to the castle, What is the connection between Pinky & Jasmine and Will Jaggi be able to persuade the spirit of Pinky to leave the castle is what forms the rest of the story.
STARCAST :: Diljit Dosanjh as Jaggi is so apt that it is hard to imagine anyone else who could have essayed this character of being cute, witty, funny & strong willed too in a more appropriate manner. He is simply outstanding and deserves an ovation for his performance. Throughout the movie, he takes us into him completely and we not only laugh and cry with him - we take back his emotions and innocence as we exit the cinema hall. He is such a natural actor with almost perfect sense of comic timing that helps him deliver punches which hit at the intended spot. Suffice to say, Diljit Dosanjh is the undisputed king of Punjabi Cinema. And matching him step to step is Neeru Bajwa with her portrayal of spirit in the castle. This pretty damsel is the only leading lady who could have and as a matter of fact, has managed to sustain herself in the movie despite the powerful character and performance of Diljit. Her effervescent personality infuses her character with charm and her act as a spirit is a treat to watch. She is a wonderfully charming actress and I have no qualms in saying that if Diljit is the undisputed king, Neeru Bajwa is undisputed queen of Punjabi Cinema. Mandy Takhar is effective as Jasmine. She has not only looked gorgeous but has also portrayed her character convincingly. Mandy has portrayed her character with the right amount of restraint and attitude which was required as per her characterization in the movie. Jaswinder Bhalla as usual is in top form and manages to entertain you with his witty one liners. His comic timing is impeccable and so is his on-screen chemistry with Diljit.
TECHNICAL FINESSE :: Another positive factor that works in favor of the movie is its technical finesse which is outstanding with effective contribution from every department. The musical soundtrack of the movie that has been composed by Nick Dhammu along with Jatinder Shah is a mixed bag of catchy & soulful numbers. One of the tracks "Taare Mutiyare" is a standout and has been sung well by Diljit. Most of the movie has been shot in U.K. and the man behind the lens as cinematographer of the movie is Parixit Warrior who has done a brilliant job of capturing the visuals. He has captured excellent visuals with the roving lens of his camera especially the aerial shots. Also, he has ably utilized picturesque locales while shooting the songs giving the frames rich and vibrant looks. The movie has been edited by Sandeep Francis who has kept the runtime of the movie to 148 minutes. The editing is sharp and edgy and the movie does not seem to linger on at any point of time. Now coming to the captain of the ship i.e. director Rohit Jugraj, he has done excellent job. He gets straight to the business right from the first frame and never looses the grip on the narrative all through the movie. He not only keeps you engrossed in the movie with his fine crafting skills but is also able to maintain the entertainment quotient of the movie alive all through. Rohit furnishes a fabulous style to the proceedings with well lit frames. As a director, Rohit knows how to juice the characters' emotions without spilling the sentiments all across the frames.
CONCLUSION :: Sardaarji has a novel plot ably backed up by well baked characters, crisp n witty dialogues, charming romance captured on picturesque locales, superlative performances and foot tapping music making it a wholesome entertainer that you can go and watch out with your family. It's a must watch for connoisseurs of Punjabi Cinema. I am giving it three and a half stars out of five.
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