In June 1984, the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered an army operation against separatist militants at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, a holy location for Sikhs, that was criticized by many in the community. In October, Gandhi’s Sikh bodyguards assassinated her, leading to ant-Sikh riots across northern India, with the country’s capital Delhi as its epicenter.
More from Variety
The happenings of 1984 left deep and enduring scars on the Sikh community and the events have been depicted in film and television over the years. In “Jogi,” directed by Ali Abbas Zafar (“Sultan”), Dosanjh plays the titular Jogi who takes it upon himself to heroically save his family and neighbors as politically-backed riot mobs in Delhi, including childhood friends from other communities, systematically target Sikhs during the 1984 riots.
For Dosanjh, the year is particularly emotive because he was born in 1984, a few months before the cataclysmic events of June and October, and grew up hearing stories about that time. One of the pivotal moments in Dosanjh’s career is “Punjab 1984” (2014) about the events of the year.
“There are many untold stories from that time, pertaining to the Sikh community in Delhi, Punjab and Kolkata, and every time I mention that I was born in 1984, everyone has their own stories,” Dosanjh told Variety. “Stories from that era have not been told and if there is an opportunity to tell them with a good team and platform, I do it.”
Dosanjh feels that the emotions and the pain conveyed in “Jogi” will connect with Netflix audiences around the world given that almost every country has had its own history of oppression.
Already a superstar of Punjabi-language cinema, Dosanjh’s breakthrough role in the Hindi-language Bollywood industry was “Udta Punjab” (2016), revolving around drug abuse in the state of Punjab. He has done several successful Bollywood films since. Dosanjh says that in the Punjabi-language industry he has carte blanche and decides on the subject matter of his films, whereas in Bollywood he waits for offers and makes an informed choice.
Despite his enormous success as an actor, music remains the first love for Dosanjh. He is one of Punjabi music’s biggest stars and has recorded 13 studio albums. His 2020 album “G.O.A.T.” went to No. 1 on on Billboard’s Top Triller global chart and went Top 20 in Canada. His track “Lover,” from the “Moonchild Era” album, has generated more than 70 million views on YouTube.
“Music is no. 1 for me, it is my priority. The pleasure I get from a hit film, I get from composing a new song, whether it is a hit or not,” says Dosanjh, whose Born to Shine world concert tour kicked off in Canada and the U.S. in June and July and continued in the U.K. in August.
Earlier this year, Dosanjh signed with Warner Music to amplify his global music career and has recorded with Canadian rapper Tory Lanez and Tanzanian star Diamond Platnumz. “Peaches,” his single with the U.K.’s Anne-Marie was released earlier this month.
“Jogi,” also starring Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub (“Tandav”) and Kumud Mishra (“Article 15”) is now streaming on Netflix.
Best of Variety