A first clip has been unveiled for Tarsem Singh Dhandwar’s return to feature film direction, “Dear Jassi.”
Dhandwar, the filmmaker previously known simply as Tarsem, returned to the big screen and to his roots with the film which had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, where it won the 2023 TIFF Platform Award in an unanimous decision.
Written by Amit Rai (“OMG 2”) and based on the reporting of journalist Fabian Dawson, “Dear Jassi” is a modern-day tragedy inspired by the tragic true story of Jaswinder “Jassi” Kaur and Sukhwinder “Mithu” Singh Sidhu, told in a Punjabi folk style. In 1996 Punjab, India, Canadian-born Jassi (Pavia Sidhu) falls in love with Mithu (Yugam Sood), a rickshaw driver beneath her social status. Their attraction is pure and unconditional, but is it has to fight the dictates imposed by Jassi’s family and Punjabi society.
The film is currently seeking distribution, with Linda Lichter of Lichter Grossman Nichols Adler Feldman & Clark, Inc. handling worldwide sales.
Dhandwar rose to prominence through commercials and music videos. He previously directed films “The Cell” (2000), “The Fall” (2006), “Immortals” (2011) and “Mirror Mirror” (2012). His last feature film was “Self/less” in 2015, and he directed NBC series “Emerald City” (2017). The filmmaker hails from the Punjab, but “Dear Jassi” is his first film set in India.
The filmmaker identifies the heart of the film as a cultural and immigration problem. “It’s been there forever, that the moment people arrive in a new country, [they are] such outsiders [and as a consequence] grab at any cultural straws that [they] have, that will keep [their] community together, no matter how evil, how old, how good, they just grab them, like a drowning person,” Dhandwar told Variety. “You forget what the problems were there, you go abroad and then start singing on how great things were back home, they were never that and [moreover] that area back home has now evolved.”
The film has picked up some celebrity fans. “The exquisite frailty of young love, and the utter mundanity of evil – sadly, beautifully, poignantly presented,” is how David Fincher describes the film.
“Powerful, devastating and wholly its own. Such original yet simple, strong and idiosyncratic filmmaking. I left touched by the beauty and the hear and horrified at the truth of the story. It’s one of those movies that seared images into me,” Spike Jonze adds.
“Dear Jassi” will next play at the BFI London Film Festival and there are plans for a theatrical release in India. The film is produced by powerhouse Indian studio T-Series alongside Wakaoo Films and Creative Strokes Group. Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Vipul D. Shah, Ashwin Varde, Rajesh Bahl, Sanjay Grover and Dhandwar serve as producers.
Watch the clip here: