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Ali Abbas Zafar on Casting Diljit Dosanjh in Jogi: I Was Clear I Needed a Sikh Actor Who Also Fits the Part

Diljit Dosanjh’s Jogi, which was released last Friday, has been receiving pretty positive reviews from audiences and critics alike. The film revolves around the anti-Sikh violence in Delhi in 1984 and tells a fictionalised story set around it. Besides Diljit, Jogi also stars Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub, Kumud Mishra, Hiten Tejwani, and Amyra Dastur. In a recent interview, director Ali Abbas Zafar said that Jogi would not have been possible without Diljit.

“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. I told my producing partner Himanshu that this story can only be told with Diljit. There is nobody else who can do this. We cannot make a non-Sikh actor into a Sikh character and portray this story. This story could have gone forward only with a person from that community, who understands what the journey of this character is,” the director told Hindustan Times.

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The filmmaker recalled that Diljit was in Canada when he thought of approaching the actor and they just had a two-page story at that time. Ali added that Diljit heard the narration which was not more than 5-6 minutes and instantly agreed to do the film.

Ali also shared that when one picks a sensitive subject like this, one needs to bring forward their sensitive side. “When you pick up subjects like this, you have to bring forward your sensitive side. In any piece of art that is done around something that is a murder of humanity, things like the World Wars, Partition, ’84, you need to be sensible enough to create an atmosphere where people feel the emotions rather than look for the visuals. Even in Jogi, our first idea was to create an atmosphere where people understand what happened to a community. It’s very psychological. It is visual but it has to hit you deep in your gut and you feel within those 15 minutes how drastically the situation has changed. The storytelling is for the emotion and not voyeuristic.”

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