Jaggi: A Punjabi movie lifts the veil on sexual violence in opposition to males

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There’s a picture that involves thoughts when one hears the phrases “Punjabi man”. It’s bolstered by movies, adverts, music movies and different components of fashionable tradition.

On this imagining, the Punjabi man is a strapping fellow, vrooming previous fields of mustard in a quick automobile, ingesting giant glasses of lassi and cheerily doing the bhangra. Ending sentences with war-like phrases comparable to “chak de phatte” (“toss the planks”), which immediately simply means “let’s get going” however was as soon as a battle cry, as Mughal-era Sikh armies swept the north, destroying enemy bridges and tents as they rode from one victory to the following.

What do you do, on this milieu, if you happen to’re not a plank-tossing, fast-riding “man’s man”? What occurs if you happen to’re slim, lithe, bodily weak?

Debutant director Anmol Sidhu’s movie Jaggi (2021) provides a uncooked, brutal reply. The titular protagonist (a searing efficiency by debutant Ramnish Chaudhary) is a slim, lithe, bodily weak teen who’s repeatedly raped, overwhelmed, bullied and ridiculed. Brutality and sexual repression emerge as undercurrents within the jovial bands of merry macho males.

The truth of his movie, says Sidhu, 28, was the lived actuality of boys who didn’t match a slim hyper-masculine norm within the rural Punjab the place he grew up. The shortage of intercourse schooling, coupled with gender segregation and a large technology hole, particularly in rural areas, imply that “between the ages of 12 and 16, their hormones are raging however boys have nowhere to show for info or solace,” Sidhu provides. “I’ve seen boys who had been thought-about ‘smooth’ or ‘weak’ change into victims of abuse by older boys. There have been boys who could be picked up by seniors nearly each single day. Elders and authorities have a tendency to show a blind eye as a result of ‘we don’t discuss intercourse’.”

Jaggi struck a chord at its premiere on the Indian Movie Pageant of Los Angeles in April, profitable the Viewers Alternative Award for Finest Characteristic and the inaugural Uma da Cunha Award for Finest Characteristic Movie Debut. “Few impartial movies in India are made within the Punjabi language and fewer nonetheless discover their approach into festivals to achieve a wider viewers. This movie must be seen in a milieu the place sexual issues have a tendency to not be addressed overtly,” movie programmer da Cunha, additionally a founding member of the pageant, stated in a press release.

Inform-all tales

Sidhu started writing the script for Jaggi in 2018, struck by two tales he encountered that yr, about younger males who had been abused over time and died by suicide or lashed out in violence.

The truth of his movie, says Sidhu, 28, was the lived actuality of boys who didn’t match a slim hyper-masculine norm within the rural Punjab the place he grew up.

Made amid the pandemic, in 2020-21, Jaggi was a wrestle on quite a few fronts. Sidhu began out with out a producer, utilizing funds borrowed from associates and relations, together with cousins settled overseas. His then-fiancé-now-wife Shefali Sood, 30, a company govt, contributed too. She even agreed to advance their wedding ceremony date so he might add their money presents to his kitty. “He was so passionate that I simply knew that I had to assist him work in direction of his goals,” she says.

The forged and crew had been all first-timers. Sidhu discovered the actors, together with Chaudhary, amongst his juniors on the Alankar Theatre Group in Chandigarh. “The primary lockdown was introduced nearly instantly after Ramnish got here on board. So he lived with me for nearly six months in Kauloke,” Sidhu says, referring to the village the place he grew up, and the place a lot of the movie was shot. “He learnt to take advantage of cows, minimize fodder and work within the fields, in order that it might look genuine after we started taking pictures.”

Whilst his lead was getting ready, Sidhu maxed out his bank card to purchase a digicam, then employed a marriage photographer from a neighbouring village as his cinematographer. “Karan Dhaliwal needed to be taught the technical issues like framing and symmetry. It took him a number of weeks,” Sidhu says.

Due to the character of the theme and content material, he nonetheless hasn’t proven the movie to his household. “They’re conscious and really happy with all of the reward it’s getting,” he says. In the meantime, as Jaggi travels the pageant circuit, Sidhu retains his job as a documentary director and author of memes with a digital-marketing company. It’s a job he’s had for 3 years; a compromise he reached along with his household. “I needed to do theatre in Chandigarh full-time,” he says.

He’s already fascinated about his subsequent movie. It’s going to discover the darkish and risk-filled lives of feminine dancers in Punjabi wedding ceremony orchestras. “Most Punjabi movies are comedies, with a handful of gangster movies. All of them stereotype Punjab,” Sidhu says. A part of what drives his selection of topics, he provides, is frustration at these overused clichés.

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