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CIFF 2023: Joram

October 13, 2023


Maybe it’s because I’m a Chicagoan, but while watching the Hindi survival thriller “Joram” the Harrison Ford line, “I didn’t kill my wife!” from 1993’s “The Fugitive” came to mind. Both films are thrillers and both have a central thread that finds a man on the run after being wrongfully accused of killing his wife. In both movies, the protagonist is doggedly pursued by someone in a position of authority, wherein each character gets almost the same amount of screen time. There is also an alarming truth that is discovered within each movie as the plot progresses. That being said, there’s a lot more layers to uncover in “Joram”, not to mention an increased amount of peril considering the protagonist on the run is holding on to his infant daughter and trying to keep her safe and alive as well.

The film’s title is actually the name of the young child. She is being cared for by Dasru (Manoj Bajpayee), a migrant laborer from the remote jungle region of Jharkhand. As the story begins, he and his wife are living in a shelter within the construction site in Mumbai where they both work. When she is killed in a seemingly random act of violence one night, he flees with his child in tow, strapped to his torso in a makeshift wrap. As he makes his way back to his homeland, he is pursued by two different parties for equally different reasons – Mumbai police detective Mumbai Ratnakar (Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub) has been ordered not to clock out until he retrieves Dasru alive, while the relentless Phulo Karma (Smita Tambe) has her own mysterious reasons for pursuing Dasru and could care less if he is captured alive.



While it doesn’t take long for “Joram” to kick off into a taut and harrowing pursuit, Indian writer/director Devashish Makhija also has some other things in mind to incorporate into the story. Makhija touches on the subject of government corruption and ecological devastation in the area, but both of the details of the both of these subjects are a bit too vague to follow clearly. The visuals aren’t always clear either and that’s partly due to Dasru mostly seeking shelter and running from his pursuers at night. Cinematographer Piyush Puty is working with natural light during these night scenes, lending a nice authenticity, but it’s still hard to follow some of the harried action. There also seems to be two socio-economic sides at odds with each other, but it’s unclear why and to what end. ‘

Nevertheless, the thrills are intact and thanks to the performances from Bajpayee, Ayyub, and Tambe, the characters are quite absorbing and easy to follow. “Joram” delivers an fascinating story in which characters are caught up in power struggles and torn by the societal forces that shape every day life in modern-day India.



“Joram” is the third collaboration between Makhija and Indian actor Bajpayee, after the 2016 short film “Taandav” and the 2018 drama “Bhonslee”. The film is produced by Zee Studios and Makhijafilm and made its debut back in February at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam and was just at the Busan International Film Festival before making it’s way to the 59th Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF).

This is actually a big deal considering there have been very few Indian films programmed at CIFF in the past. But, it’s not surprising considering the growing popularity of Indian films in the past couple years, specifically with last year’s “RRR” and this year’s “Jawan”.





screening on Friday, October 13th at AMC NewCity (Screen 5) at 8:15pm (CST) – Scheduled to Attend: Director Devashish Makhija and Producers Ashima Avasthi & Bhumika Tewari


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