Have applied what I learnt on 'Bhonsle' in making 'Joram': director Devashish Makhija

NewsDrum Desk
29 Jan 2023

New Delhi, Jan 29 (PTI) With his latest feature film "Joram", Devashish Makhija is going big, both in terms of canvas and message.


The movie, which marks a reunion for the director with actor Manoj Bajpayee after the 2020's singular character study "Bhonsle", is the story about "a land and its people".

"Bhonsle" saw Bajpayee, in his National Award-winning turn, play a retired cop who becomes a hero for a young Bihari girl and her sibling as he stands up against a political stooge. "Joram" is a survival-thriller about a displaced indigenous man, Dasru (Bajpayee) on the run with his three-month-old baby girl.

"'Bhonsle' was made over many years, changing many producers' hands. On it, I was only the writer-director, not a producer. What I learnt on that journey I have applied in the making of 'Joram'.


"Anupama Bose, my producer-partner and I, came together as ‘Makhijafilm’ to produce 'Joram', when Zee Studios decided to back it. It's the first time I’ve had a producer by my side from day zero, walking in step with me to put this film together brick by brick," the filmmaker told PTI in an interview via email.   The landscape, character-scape and emotion-scape of "Joram" is massive, said Makhija as he compared the movie with "Bhonsle", which was first written in 2011 before it was finally shot in 2017, and released in 2020.

But a story like "Joram", he said, cannot be conceived in "isolation" .

"It’s about a land, its people, their personal belief systems, and the gargantuan systemic machinery that locate and dislocate us by turn. A film like 'Joram' doesn’t get conceived in isolation. The multiple worlds and themes and characters that populate 'Joram' have been charting their narrative journeys through many of my other writings and films to finally arrive in this film," the director added.


Set in Jharkhand and Mumbai, "Joram" explores the conflict between nature and perceived development through Dasru, who is on the run throughout the film, across a brutal landscape rife with "displacement, development and devastation".

"Joram", which draws its title from the Adivasi name of the baby girl, represents the legacy of the Earth and nature that is under threat, said the Kolkata-born filmmaker.

"This film strives to remain an insider's perspective at its epicentre, even as it ripples outwards to show us (the relatively privileged city eyes) what the complex realities thrown up by the conflict around ‘development’ truly look and feel like.


"How desperate such a conflict can make someone. What its outcome means not only for the directly displaced, but even for each and every last one of us," he added.

Makhija, who reunites with Bajpayee for the second time, said he has an affinity towards the actor.

"To me performance is the beating heart of the cinema I make. Everything else – cinematography, edit, sound, music, colour, light, and my writing – is at the service of the character. Manoj was the first person I met in many years who probably identified that in my writing and my being," the filmmaker recalled.


Describing "The Family Man" star as someone who "turns into absolutely anything", Makhija said he has tried to shape Bajpayee into characters he has never played before.

"... and he has deep dived into them with enthusiasm... That empowers a writer-director to push boundaries with the writing of the character," he added The Mumbai-based director said "Joram" gave him the opportunity to make many exceptional performers riff off one another.

"Along with Manoj, we had another phenomenal artist in Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, who plays a Mumbai cop being compelled to chase Manoj’s character across states, into the jungles and iron ore mines of Jharkhand.


"In the mix with them are the formidable actors Smita Tambe, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Rajshri Deshpande, and a host of sparkling new talent, including Megha Mathur, Jacky Bhavsar, and the incredible infant who played baby Joram," he said.

"Joram" will be screened at the ongoing International Film Festival of Rotterdam (IFFR) on February 1. The film will premiere under the Big Screen Competition, which aims to bridge the gap between popular, classic and art house cinema.

The director is happy to return to the film gala, which previously feted his "Bhonsle" (2019) and "Ajji" (2018).


"IFFR remains arguably the finest example worldwide of a film festival that determinedly perseveres to seek out, showcase, support and champion fiercely independent cinema voices.

"Although the last few years they have turned some of their focus to India, they have always stood their ground on prioritising artistic voices from anywhere in the world," he said.

On plans to release "Joram" in India and around the world, Makhija said his movie is an "indie-spirited, artistically-driven film" that also seeks to be watched and celebrated widely, both in India and in the world, and is medium-agnostic.

"We need our film(s) to be watched, celebrated, engaged with, and to find a shelf life. All mediums are capable of providing that in different ways. Every film has its own unique journey.

"'Joram' will hopefully do its international festival journey, release in theatres – perhaps internationally as well as domestically, and find a home on OTT too," he added. PTI RDS SHD SHD