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Jaggi (Punjabi)

I had been looking for this film ever since I had heard of it running in a few film theaters. The makers recently released the film on Muni, which gave a lot of people an opportunity to eventually watch this film. Jaggi is traumatic, triggering, and shakes you to the core. But it’s also raw, touching, and unnerving. It is definitely not gay cinema, but the subject that says "Story of a schoolboy’s impotence leads to accusations of being gay, triggering relentless bullying" was something I really wanted to see. Id also like to say that the film has some very disturbing scenes that could be triggering for some people.

The film starts in present day where we see Jaggi as he goes through rollercoaster of emotions. He breaks down, tries to jerk off, grabs a gun, writes a letter in his diary and gets picked up his uncle to take him home for his engagement the next day. On the way, they give lift to a man who slowly starts to inappropriately touch Jaggi and the film goes into flashback. Jaggi is a regular schoolboy whose father is an alcoholic cop, always drunk which has made his mother seek solace in her husband's brother with whom she has physical relations and is also gossip of the village. Since school boys this age always talk about girls and masturbation, he confides in one of his friend that he doesn't get an erection, who son spreads the word that since Jaggi doesn't get erection then he must be gay. When two senior students protect him from bullying, their eventual intention is made clear, when they finally corner Jaggi under a bridge and rape him mercilessly, also threatening him to not tell anyone. This is where the assaults start where he is constantly sexually assaulted by his classmates and multiple other men in the village repeatedly. He leave school and 4 years later he is now working and taking care of the farm, making peace with the fact that he will continue to serve these men's sexual needs, leaving him mentally, emotionally, physically drained. Eventually he is forced into marrying a girl. He initially refuses and in two separate scenes tells both his father and mother that he is impotent, but neither take shim seriously and ask him to just shut up and tell him that it will all be ok. He eventually starts to like the girl but his fears are rooted in the fact of what his abusers will do to his wife. He decides to take matters in his own hands with a very dramatic and unexpected finale.

As I mentioned before, the film, which is inspired by true events, has certain visuals which are extremely graphic and difficult to sit through. It’s traumatic, triggering, and shakes you to the core. But it’s also raw, touching, and unnerving. It shows you the reality of sexual abuse, egged on by sexual frustration. It shows you the depths people can fall to solely because of lust. Anyone with any sort of power forces himself upon someone seemingly weak – we see this when Jaggi’s farmhand tries to molest him too.  As a viewer you dont know what can you do, some may even remember events from their own childhood or teenage years where something similar may have happened, but the masculine image is so engrave din men that they dare not speak up of their trauma. The actor playing titular role of Jaggi is absolutely brilliant. He shows such mature vulnerability, that it’s hard to believe it was only his first time facing the camera. He brings a certain sense of authenticity and rawness to the film with his acting. Each act of violence drives him further inward and isolated. His guardedness especially stems from how persistently he has been taught, encouraged, bullied and ultimately coerced into absolute silence. Anmol Sidhu’s first feature exhibits a confidence of a political film that can aim hyper-masculine culture in Punjab and indeed India. We see scenes where neither Jaggi's parents and nor his fiancĂ©'s parents take them seriously (we have a scene where the fiancĂ© also confides how she was sexually abused as little girl). Raw and brutal at times, it is an unflinching look at how rural India hides the cultural rot out of our attention. The chills and the nightmares that this movie will give you through its runtime will remain unparalleled, and how it will make you feel about everything around you will also stay for days. A very uncomfortable yet a very very important film to watch. As hard as it is to believe, but the film shows some very true dark realities of some of the societal truth in parts of the country. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for the director to make this film. (7.5/10)


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