Joram Review: A Gripping Social Drama Disguised as a Survival Thriller

Rahul Desai

Revenge is The Primal Protagonist of a Devashish Makhija Film

It is the refuge of the marginalised, but also an act of deep sacrifice. They go down swinging at a system rigged against them — the villains are sick manifestations of this system. 

In Joram

An Adivasi lady sets out to avenge the brutal murder of her son. In fact, she does it in the language of the tormentors — as the ruling party’s first tribal MLA. You’d think Joram is her name, but it is not; she is Phulo (played by Smita Tambe. Naturally, ‘Karma’ is her surname).

Joram is Titled After

The infant daughter of the disenfranchised man Karma wants to kill. This man, Dasru, is a fellow Adivasi from Jharkhand who quit his life as a naxalite to work as a labourer in Mumbai.

Navigating the Bureaucracy

This self-cannibalism of minorities is scattered across Joram, a film in which almost everyone is erased from the reality they occupy. Nobody knows who they’re hunting or what they’re escaping.

Internalised Oppression

The film resists the temptation of a suspenseful plot. The writing doesn’t keep Phulo’s plan a secret for long. We know, almost immediately, that she is behind the slaying of Dasru’s wife. She isn’t staged as some messiah who, for the sake of a final twist, turns out to be a devil.

The Camera Movement

The filming of Joram defines its view-point narrative. Some of the visual metaphors in Jharkhand are too curated: The backdrop of a concrete dam or the Constitution of India signage, a lone tree at a mining site, a rock-crushing machine resembling a fire-breathing dragon feasting on soil.

The Narratives Don’t Stop Changing

Bullets don’t stop becoming the triggers of progress. A tribal baby doesn’t stop surviving. A rebel doesn’t stop running. A film like Joram doesn’t stop existing. It’s only the cameras that stop recording