Ali Abbas Zafar: After Tandav Controversy, We Were Really Sensitive with Jogi

Diljit Dosanjh’s Jogi which released on Netflix last week has been receiving a lot of critical acclaim. An engaging take on how personal animosity takes a political and communal tinge during riots, filmmaker Ali Abbas Zafar’s Jogi revisits the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi to tell a tale of friendship, betrayal, and greed for power.

Talking about the success, Zafar in an exclusive interview tells News18.com, “I am grateful to the people for showering so much love on Jogi. This film is all heart and we as a team wanted to pass on the message of courage, friendship and hope to everyone and I believe we have been able to achieve that.”

The Tiger Zinda Hai filmmaker says that the sole purpose of making this film was to get the right emotion out. “Jogi’s central idea is humanity. Insaan ka pehla karam hai insaniyat. From the time of scripting to the final draft, I just felt that this emotion shouldn’t get tampered, and that it should come out to the audience in the most honest way. The film is about courage, hope and togetherness. The idea was that situations like what we have shown in the film should rather unite and not divide any community or people at large.”

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Zafar’s last directorial was the political drama Tandav, which was released on Amazon Prime in January 2021. The web-series featuring Saif Ali Khan was slammed for hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus and police complaints were lodged against its makers and actors.

Ask the filmmaker whether he was in two minds before directing Jogi which is set against a political backdrop of India and he says, “When Tandav happened there were no guidelines from the government. When we started making Jogi, the guidelines had come and it was about self-censorship. My learning out of Tandav was that definitely there was something in the show which offended people and their sentiments for which we apologised. As a filmmaker my idea is not to disrupt anyone’s faith or feelings. I want to make content which unites the country rather than creating division.”

Zafar adds, “With Jogi we were really sensitive that we don’t want to create any rift between me and the audience. We don’t want anyone to get offended. We want everyone to watch Jogi with an open mind.”

Complimenting Dosanjh who plays the titular character, Zafar says that nobody else could have portrayed the character better than him, “I was very clear that I needed a Sikh actor, who also fits the part in terms of the stardom he owns and the vulnerability he carries. We were fortunate that Diljit (Dosanjh) came on board because there is no person better than him to bring this story together. Today, Jogi is Jogi because of him.”

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