Coming straight to the point, SARDAAR JI brings a big positive as well as a big negative news for Punjabi Cinema, if one looks at this latest release (having all the potential of becoming a major hit), with a deeper understanding of the trend witnessed in the last decade of Punjabi film business.
However sharing the good news first, here we have a film that promises to entertain you well through its novel and innovative script revolving around a strange love triangle performed superbly by the cast after a long time. And in case you quickly wish to know the key merits of SARDAAR JI in short, then the film has Diljit Dosanjh, the superstar of Punjabi cinema back in his terrific form with a perfect comic timing after the mistake called DISCO SINGH. Director Rohit Jugraj returning with another well-made project post his successful JATT JAMES BOND introducing a fantasy ‘ghost’ plot for the first time ever in Punjabi Cinema. And a script that has enough to keep you engaged throughout it’s more than two hours long duration (with some fine songs) despite the usual hiccups post intermission.
Having a comparatively better, fast moving and hugely entertaining first half, SARDAAR JI begins on a bumpy note (with few unfamiliar faces on screen) but then pulls the viewers in through many well-conceived hilarious sequences and some engaging story developments before the intermission. In the second half though the pace drops due to the usual predictable plot of a love triangle and some repetitive scenes, still it keeps covering the mistakes fast with the dependable Diljit and never tends to lose the grip heading towards another comical (unusual) climax giving you the worth of your money spent.
Being based on a ‘ghostly’ fantasy plot, it would be foolish to search for any logic in its various sequences related with the bottled spirits and more. Especially when writer Dheeraj Rattan delivers a mostly engaging screenplay (with a winner first half in particular) and Raju Singh providing his much important support through a noteworthy background score in its enjoyable sequences.
But let me tell you about the most crucial essence of a Punjabi comedy movie that remains its strong backbone throughout undeniably. And that’s its hilarious, well written dialogues with many timely punches coming one after another rendered with a perfect timing in the local lingo by actors like Diljit, Jaswinder Bhalla and more. A Punjabi comedy movie majorly depends upon its one liners alone since the slapstick part (almost) always comes in the climax resulting in a crescendo as last seen in CARRY ON JATTA. And since SARDAAR JI simply excels in this particular department of dialogues in its every frame right from the electrifying entry of Diljit till its witty finale, therefore for me the real unsung hero of the film is its dialogue writer Jatinder Lall putting it honestly.
Adding to its merits, SARDAAR JI has an eye-catching cinematography, some decent special effects as required and an enjoyable, catchy soundtrack with many good songs composed, written and rendered well. Having said that, a few tracks could easily be edited out of the final print resulting in a shorter duration as its always irritating when a love song comes even after 110 minutes of the film unnecessarily.
In the performance section, it’s a Diljit Dosanjh film all the way along with the dialogue writer Jatinder Lall. And the director makes the best use of the talent ensemble here with his quality vision clearly visible on the screen as expected. Diljit confidently leads from the front displaying his multi-talent of acting, singing, comedy, action and emotion. And it’s his enigmatic presence on the screen only that takes the film to another level altogether without any slightest of doubt. Neeru Bajwa as the spirit in love performs well (though she isn’t the main lead of the film unexpectedly) but its Mandy Takhar (in a comparatively bigger role), who shows a great improvement looking fresh, natural and different, moving ahead of all her previous attempts giving a pleasant surprise. Jaswinder Bhalla in his cameo kind of role largely provides the expected entertainment in his few scenes and so do the rest in the supporting cast except the members of the rich ‘England’ family (calling Diljit as the ghost hunter from India), taking it quite casually.
In all, due to its stronger merits mentioned above, SARDAAR JI can easily be rated as a largely enjoyable film having its few glitches that demand to be ignored due to a thoroughly entertaining Diljit keeping the smiles intact.
Ratings : 3.5 / 5 (Including special points for choosing a novel spooky subject by the team)
Now coming to the big negative news for Punjabi Cinema mentioned in the start.
No its not about any one-man-show (with almost all the big blockbusters till date featuring Diljit only in the lead), as that has been the feature of every film industry at one time or the other. Like the era of Amitabh Bachchan and more, that gets broken sooner or later with other competitive performers coming in with the changing trends & tastes.
But the concern is much more serious here because with the super success of SARDAAR JI, where at one end the Punjabi film industry might be sensing a quick revival in the coming months, there at the other it actually gets stuck deeper into the same monotonous mess (threatening the industry from the last few years) since the latest hit is yet again A COMEDY failing to push the envelope any further as desperately desired.
Giving you a broader picture of the present scenario of Punjabi mainstream cinema, it all revolves around only three basic subjects, finding no courage to go beyond them either from the producers, directors, actors and even the viewers since last 4-5 years. And these three key subjects are:
A. Comedy films (taking the biggest share of current projects).
B. Films made around the dark events of 1984
C. Religious Projects revolving around Sikh History or Sikhism.
And unless Punjabi cinema makes a major breakthrough coming up with a worth watching, successful film made beyond these three overused, clichéd subjects of comedy, 84 and religion, it will keep revolving in circles generating a fake picture of cinematic development in just money terms and nothing else.