There is a moment in Dear Jassi where the film tonally comes to a halt. A psychologically disturbing full stop that should come as no surprise (we are informed from the get-go that this Romeo and Juliette tale is based on real tragic well-documented consequences) but it illustrates the willingness diverge from regular storytelling formulas and for its author in filmmaker Tarsem Singh Dhandwar it signifies bifurcation from a certain comfort zone.
A pet project that the filmmaker knew he’d one day tackle if the opportunity presented itself; so when Bollywood came knocking he seized his chance to make one personal film before something scaled as his previous studio projects. Selected for TIFF’s Platform section (where it claimed the top prize) Dear Jassi is about polar opposites, it can be harsh with people orbiting in spaces unknown to the them, but its far from bleak — there is playfulness with the charismatic pair of bright-eyed co-stars totally downing the potion called love (we also had the chance to interview the film stars in Pavia Sidhu and Yugam Sood). I had the pleasure of speaking to the filmmaker at the Red Sea Film Festival (it won an award there as well). A film production that last close to two months, we discussed how the material might have stayed with him through the years, how it was to work with non-professional actors and a pivotal sequence that shakes the film to its core.