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JORAM -The Constructs Of a Mourning Civilization

JORAM -The Constructs Of a Mourning Civilization

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Kabir Deb delves into the socio-political implications of Devashish Makhija‘s film “Joram,” emphasizing its portrayal of the struggle between development and nature, the impact of violence on society, and the challenges faced by meaningful cinema in the current cultural climate. The film has been nominated for various international awards and received prestigious awards like Best Story and Critics Award for Best Film at the Filmfare awards.

Art can either be used to create a calamity that can decimate the minds of an entire civilization. Or it has the courage to give life to the revolution society needs but cannot accept. In the Govind Nihalani directed film, Party (1984), Om Puri in a conversation with K.K. Raina speaks about how art should never stay away from the socio-political climate of a nation. It should question the state with utmost honesty. It should never romanticize the slow destruction which happens by washing the conscience of common citizens. Devashish Makhija’s slow-burn drama Joram does justice to the thought of any rational mind making it a piece of art which triggers the ignorant beings of our society. At the same time, it speaks what many people have been saying since India’s independence.

Let’s decode the film with four important questions which the film and its maker keeps before us in a very direct way:

Question 1:

We know that those who have been thriving under a constant and continuous oppression eventually reciprocate with their complete intensity. They take arms in their hands since the lawmakers use the system that operates with arms. What happens when someone does not want to take arms in their hand? Should we call him/her a Gandhian?

The answer, through Joram, comes in neither black nor white. Manoj, who plays the role of Dasru, is a tribal citizen of India. Due to the influx of capitalists and their factories, the nation’s development becomes a curse for his family. He is forced to join the Naxalite movement which does not resonate with what he thinks about humankind. The system corrodes him from inside which eventually forces him to move to the city by promising him that their lies are going to be the truth of his growth. His hesitancy towards arms does not make him a Gandhian. People like him have not even read anything about non-violence through a piece of literature. To see an innocent person being beaten to death becomes enough to take him away from any kind of abuse. The state uses corrupt officials of the justice system to induce propaganda inside all those who do not give solace to their souls. Slowly, this entire sect goes against those who have the urge to be kind to their own self. The slow-burn of the film portrays the torment of the ones who stand side-by-side to nature. The thrill could be felt when Dasru’s battle feels like a compilation of our fights.

Question 2:

Should we behold development for the country, at any cost, or the symbiosis of nature and its closest beings? The question has been served on a platter a million times. Yet how does the fight of a single human being still throw multiple reality checks towards our clothed conscience?

If I draw an answer from the pragmatic lens then I surely would go for a ferocious kind of development. A nation which has resources should use it wisely. But wisdom never arrives by decimating the people who have been protecting nature (mainly jungles) which flourishes the resources capitalists are greedy about. Devashish vividly shows the helplessness of Dasru after the system he votes for crushes his family and pins the tag of murderer on his back. We are told to stay away from speaking about such instances because of the fear of losing a government job, character, the charming image, meals, or in short, life in its very entirety. We are living in a time where art is being crushed and censored to leave the audience with nothing but a packet full of air. Joram wisely consumes the vicious acts of the system and reciprocates with a naked form of anger.

Question 3:

A sudden cut takes the same characters to a construction site where they are not wearing any flower or ornament or the ritualistic tattoos. Why this particular film is seen as a weapon that became successful in breaking some of the stringent barriers of filmmaking? To what extent, does the film showcase violence when the buzz, we get to hear, is about loud, violent and toxic form of cinema?

The editing of the film is what we usually get to see in a Devashish Makhija film. From strange cuts to a vocal and loud stare, Joram too begins with the folk song “Pindare Polasher Bon”. Both Dasru and his wife, Vaano (Tannishtha Chatterjee) float within nightmares and the flower we know as Palash. A sudden cut takes us to the same characters to a construction where they are not wearing any flower or ornament or the ritualistic tattoos. All they have is cement on their face and a grief which melts when they sit in solitude. The close shots portray a very personal thought of the director and all those people who lost their way imagining that the world still is an idea place to live in. It gets more evident when Piyush Puty, the cinematographer of the film, zooms the camera whenever an honest employee of the system, Ratnakar (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) is in a state of dilemma. The audience gets to know the tumultuous condition of honesty in these times.

The film shows violence but keeps the act in the hands of those who sit as landlords of the system. The thin line between glorification of violence and villainizing the act lies with the storyteller. And when it comes to reality, the glory of killing is stitched with the fabric of a third party: the one who is committing by act by following an agenda or to make a name. Smita Tambe, who plays the role of Phulo Karma, the one who feeds on power feels good to weave all the conspiracies to stay as the head of the table. Even though in a casteist atmosphere, she is going to be used to justify the atrocities the system does against the marginalized community. So, when Phulo Karma is worshipped by her followers, she is doing the same thing to justify her criminal activities. Isn’t that the raw truth of the country? To show violence, one has to disturb the demons we preserve in us.

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Question 4:

Is the audience doing justice to the film? Do we really ignore the fact that good artists die a little when we feel good to watch their creations using a shortcut?

Joram was shadowed by the Sandeep Reddy Vanga directed film, Animal, which is saddening since the former told the bitter reality and many people simply kept it for the OTT platforms. The latter, instead did triggered many people, but even its critics chose to invest their money on the film. Indian audience, especially of the time we are living in, does not acknowledge important films. So, piracy is not a much-talked topic of the town and we still wait for OTT platforms to screen them. The title ‘cult-classic’ is a polite curse. Devashish’s other films like Ajji, Bhonsle, Tandav etc., are referred to as extremely well-directed cult classics. But to be very honest, we butcher an artist with precision when their art does not get the right amount of money they deserve. Thus, even though, Joram showed the story of a Dasru, Vaano or Phulo, the people they represented still have no other means to watch their story. Joram did win the awards it deserved but when a director like Devashish goes bankrupt, whose fault is it? Are we going to play dumb by saying that cinema is the only way to take us far from the reality for 2-3 hours?

If we are on a quest to know the truth, Joram is the dark horse. It is the appropriate time to correct our mistakes by keeping two hours for the film. It is not going to give you the nightmares which crawls to tighten the insecurities. Rather, the attempt is to be a wake-up call. Sleep is not a bad phenomenon. But if we think that a burning nation is going to give us the warmth we need, we really are walking in the wrong direction. Joram is the guide to the bare truth no one is going to say.

Joram's director Devashish Makhija with his 2 black ladies that he won in the recent Filmfare Awards Nite
Joram’s director Devashish Makhija with his 2 black ladies that he won in the recent Filmfare Awards Nite


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