Jassi Sidhu honour killing tale premieres at Toronto film fest

India-born director Tarsem Singh's Dear Jassi is based on the Jassi Sidhu 'honour killing', which occurred in Punjab in 2000

Jassi, born in Maple Ridge near Vancouver, was murdered in Punjab by killers hired by her mother, while her husband was left for dead (photo: IANS)
Jassi, born in Maple Ridge near Vancouver, was murdered in Punjab by killers hired by her mother, while her husband was left for dead (photo: IANS)


Directed by Hollywood director Tarsem Singh, Dear Jassi, the story of the honour killing of Canadian citizen Jassi Sidhu in Punjab in June 2000 for marrying a village boy against her family's wishes, premiered at the on-going Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on Sunday 10 September.

Somewhat reminiscent of the legendary love stories of Punjabi folklore, the film retells the tragedy of 24-year-old Jassi, who made the mistake of falling in love with and marrying Sukhwinder Sidhu alias Mithu, a kabaddi player of the same Sidhu clan, while visiting her mother's village in Punjab. 

Born in Maple Ridge near Vancouver in Canada, Jassi was murdered by killers hired by her mother near Jagraon in Punjab, while her new husband was left for dead.

Opening with Sufi poet Bulleh Shah's Kamli, the film brilliantly recreates the tragic events of June 2000, beginning with the Indo-Canadian woman (played by Pavia Sidhu) falling in love with the rugged Punjab boy (played by Yugam Sood) during her first trip to Punjab.  

Scenes quickly switch between grimy Punjab towns and Jassi's swanky Maple Ridge home near Vancouver as the romance between the two blooms, first through their secret rendezvous in the Punjab village and then via letters and phone calls when Jassi flies back to Vancouver. 

When Jassi's mother Malkiat Kaur and maternal uncle Surjit Singh Badersha try to force her to marry an Indo-Canadian man of their choice, she flies to India and secretly marries Mithu before returning to Canada to make arrangements for Mithu to join her there.

But when her mother and uncle get wind of her secret marriage, Jassi is tortured, confined to the house, and forced to sign papers to get her marriage in India annulled.

The high points of the film are the chaotic scenes in Jassi's home in Canada when her secret marriage is no longer a secret, and she seeks police assistance to get out of the house to fly to India to save Mithu and her marriage. 

The director, known for films such as The Cell starring Jennifer Lopez, as well as various award-winning music videos and commercials, makes extensive use of colloquial Panjabi to capture the earthy Punjabi sense of humour in the film, which has been dubbed into English. 

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