Joram review: A gripping and moving social satire with impressive performances and politics

Karishma Jangid
New Update

Written and directed by Devashish Makhija, 'Joram' revolves around corporate greed, development, the system and its brutal and inefficient ways. 

Thriller mysteries generally excite you in the moment. ‘Joram’ goes a step ahead. It hurts you and sensitises you at the same time. It stuns you, repels you, angers you, scares you, and serves a range of emotions. But it never stops talking to you. The film speaks even when the characters are silent. This makes Joram not only a gripping but also an essential film.

Dasru aka Bala (Manoj Bajpayee), a tribal man from Jharkhand working as a labourer in Mumbai, comes home to find his wife Vaano (Tannishtha Chatterjee) killed and himself, framed as a Maoist and a murderer. On the flee with his infant daughter, he is chased by an exhausted cop Ratnakar Bagul (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) and Phulo Karma (Smita Tambe), the tribal MLA who killed his wife. With his life under threat, Dasru longs to return to his hometown, his land. However, development has snatched that from him too. “Kab tak bhagenge?” Vaano had once asked Dasru. After Vaano’s murder, Dasru’s life becomes all about running. The tale then becomes about Dasru’s survival, corporate greed, indigenous people and their rights, and an unempathetic system that isn’t interested in listening to its people. 

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The screenplay takes its time, but it always keeps you on the edge of your seat. The chase isn’t performative. It is less thrilling and more authentic. Joram has a lot of violence, but it never glorifies it. At times the camera forces you to look at the gore, but only to show you the pain behind it. And the camera is constantly in sync with the emotions of the film. When the character is scared, the surroundings are dark as if to haunt him. When the tension reaches an all-time high, mines are being blasted around and it’s all dust and chaos. And in some tender moments, even though it is dark (like Dasru’s life), the moon glows while water runs from the dam. The rural landscape is a character in itself. Just like life happens to Dasru, development happens to the village and Dasru mourns the demise of them both.

The most impressive elements of Joram are, however, the acting and its social commentary. Bajpayee is without a doubt the most impressive actor in the film. He once again proves that such rural characters are his forte. Amidst all the other actors, Tambe stands out. Throughout the film, her face is blank but it says so much. Her eyes have the brutal carelessness of someone who has nothing left to lose. In one scene, a single tear drops from her eyes, but in that very second, all the emotions come rushing to her face and it is painful as well as awe-inspiring to watch. 

Joram is not interested in heroism. It is not interested in collective rebellion either. It is only interested in looking at the system as well as the rebels through the eyes of those who are too vulnerable to be either. Through Dasru, the film looks at the world very simplistically. Its politics is simple - some people just want to live peacefully. Unfortunately, the system is such that this notion is radical. When Dasru asks a fellow Lad kaahe nahi raha koi?” He is met with the answer “Kisse?” because development doesn’t have a face, and “Lad ke mann toh bhar jayega, pet ka hum kaa karenge?” People like Dasru can’t afford to be either the system or the rebels because they are busy surviving. Joram represents the commonest of common folks. 

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