Director: Rohit Jugraj
Country: India (Punjabi)
Jaggi, or “Sardaarji,” is a talented ghost hunter from rural Punjab, India. Emotionally immature, he is waiting to find his “queen witch:” the prettiest and most wonderful female ghost, who he will add to his bottled collection.
When he gets a call for help from a rich expat family living in the UK, he flies to London to exorcise a ghost from a castle. The ghost turns out to be a Punjabi named Pinky, and Jaggi decides that she will be his queen ghost.
There’s only one small problem: before Pinky will leave the castle, Jaggi must romance Jasmine, a real, human girl – something that terrifies the intrepid ghost hunter.
I had great suspicions about Jaggi (and the writers) at the beginning of the movie. It seemed like the women were being treated in a very patriarchal way: the female ghosts are literally kept in bottles in a cabinet while Jaggi flirts with them and makes sexual innuendos. This is incredibly problematic, but it turns out that most of this can be chalked up to his emotional immaturity: emotionally, Jaggi is about as mature as a 13-year-old, if that.
This becomes most obvious when Pinky’s plan requires him to learn salsa dancing from Jasmine. She takes his hand and places it on her back in the correct position for ballroom dancing. Jaggi nearly faints and runs away. The reason? He has apparently never touched a girl before – well, except for the she-ghosts, who are ghosts so it doesn’t count – so he is terrified when Jasmine touches him.
This emotional immaturity is indicated in several more minor ways throughout the film. For example, Jaggi’s outfits swing radically between a full suit-and-tie and footie pajamas. He constantly has to ask ghosts for advice, especially about relationships, and only realizes that he is in love when a random ghost tells him so.
This is a hilarious comedy, but it also has great emotional depth. Rather unsurprisingly, it turns out that Jasmine is the one who caused Pinky’s death. It was an accident, and Jasmine has been tortured by guilt for the last four years. It is only when Jaggi finds her that she begins to see a way out of her depression.
How can she relieve herself of the guilt of what she has done? Jasmine finds a few ways, such as giving up dance, but none of them give her any relief. She has even contemplated suicide but wasn’t able to follow through with it. This movie does a great job of examining the emotional fallout of causing someone else’s death, even if only by accident.
At the same time, this film is also a hilarious comedy, much of which comes from Jaggi’s ridiculous antics. Some are a result of being able to see and interact with ghosts. If, for example, he is talking to or touching a ghost, no one else can see who or what he’s interacting with. He ends up looking absolutely bizarre and crazy.
Jaggi’s lack of knowledge of the outside world is another major source of humor: he is uneducated and from a rural area of Punjab, which creates funny problems again and again. For example, this is the first time he’s been abroad, and he knows only a miniscule amount of English. How does he cope with his language difficulties? Answer: he brings along the ghost of an English teacher to help!
I highly recommend this movie as a hilarious comedy, a great Indian fantasy film, and a deep exploration of feelings of guilt.
- Alif: The First Letter of Knowledge - August 15, 2017
- Dangal - February 12, 2017
- Ontorjatra - July 10, 2016