Joram Review: Manoj Bajpayee, Smita Tambe and Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub deliver extraordinary performances in a heart-piercing survival drama
Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Smita Tambe, Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub, Tannishtha Chatterjee
Director: Devashish Makhija
Rating: 3.5 Moons
Dasru Kerketta (Manoj Bajpayee) and his wife Vaano (Tannishtha Chatterjee) are living a happy life in a village nestled in the forests of Jharkhand. The first frame of Joram, directed by Devashish Makhija, introduces the joyful couple and their simple pleasures. Singing a folk song, they celebrate the beauty of nature. The swing on which Vaano spends quality time suddenly appears empty. Depicting the emotion of displacement, they're found trapped in the city's concrete jungle. Living at a construction site, Dasru, Vaano and their infant daughter Joram have several battles to fight.
Dasru's life undergoes a massive change after Vaano is killed by the henchmen of tribal legislator Phulo Karma (Smita Tambe). Dasru has to flee from the spot with infant Joram. He has no time to process the death of his wife. Sub-Inspector Ratnakar Bagul (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) is chasing him. Phulon Karma sets out on a mission to track down Dasru for a reason. The purpose behind her vengeful behaviour is personal.
Joram is more than just a survival drama or a father-daughter tale. While questioning the system and its divide between the privileged and the marginalised, the film also attempts to understand the thought process and cultural references behind every character's behaviour. The world of Devashish Makhija's film is dark with hope as the only optimism. Parent-child relationship serves as the core of Joram but the parallel tracks never meet. On one hand, there's survival and on the other, revenge.
Devashish Makhija, who made Bhosle with Bajpayee, studies his world carefully. The build-up to the events is tragic and grim. While telling an important story set in the tribal zone of India, the director puts across a tale that provides no solution. When there's no concrete solution to real problems, how can there be one in the story that reflects society and its unfair ways?
For most of the part, Joram is heartbreaking, tragic and melancholic with less respite from the brutality. Certainly, it has all the layers to make it a tough watch. However, the treatment in terms of the major revelation could have been much better. The runtime for an intense and heart-piercing like Joram felt longer. It has to be noted that the film isn't for the weak-hearted. The journey to the conclusion at times feels tiresome and extreme.
Surrendering himself completely to Dasru's tragic world and helplessness, Manoj Bajpayee sinks his teeth into the character and delivers yet another knockout performance. Had it not been for Manoj, Dasru wouldn't have come to life. Instead of crying over his haplessness, Dasru makes the best of the moment he has amid life threats and protects his daughter and himself from the clutches of Phulo Karma. Manoj transforms into the character and makes people believe in Dasru's story through his eyes.
Smita Tambe as Phulo Karma is hands-down the best choice for a grey, menacing and disliked character. She's a courageous actress to have chosen a role like this. While she's hated for what she does to Dasru, the pain in her eyes cannot be ignored. As her character begins to develop and details of her past are unveiled, Phulon's behaviour comes across as emotionally right but morally unfair. Smita makes the audience forget that it's a character in a film.
Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub is a stellar actor and there's no doubt in that. As Ratnakar Bagul, a cop from the Mumbai Police who is overworked and exhausted, the actor steals the limelight with his mature performance. There's a balance of softness and sternness in the character that's injected by Zeeshan. He's a scene-stealer and his portions with Manoj are gems.
Cinematography plays a key role in Joram. Piyush Puty cinematically builds Devashish's world with shades of tragedy, displacement, urgency and tension. The background score elevates the film and transports the viewers into a different zone altogether.
Joram is a hard-hitting, relevant and detailed insight into the tribal areas of the country. It shows the dark side of violence and oppression with a stellar cast. Joram is one of those films that shed the glamour of cinema and exposes the viewers to reality.
PeepingMoon gives Joram 3.5 Moons