(Star rating: * — because there is just one star, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insaan)
Make absolutely no mistake about this: Saint Dr Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singhji Insaan is a filmmaker at the very peak of his immense powers. It is one thing to even conceive of a project as ambitious as Jattu Engineer; but to pull it off with the aplomb that he has, is indication of a director who has transcended rare cinematic heights.
He has invoked all the masters, the many auteurs who have inspired him to become the man that he is today. From Kurosawa to Ray, from Scorcese to Coppola, from Jean-Luc Godard to Bergman, he has paid homage to everyone. And such is the quality of filmmaking, that they would be honoured by his efforts. And welcome him to the pantheon with open hands.
As always, calling him a director is doing disservice to the 42 other roles that he performs on the sets of every movie. Including one that simply says “prop maker”. Yes, his humility is as touching as his smile. Despite being the richly deserving recipient of a Dadasaheb Phalke Award, he makes all the props used for the film with his own masculine hands. And when you think about how the film is an elaborate ego-massaging prop unto itself, you will begin to comprehend the levels at which Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singhji Insaan works.
Jattu Engineer is set in small-town India, the kind that’s instantly recognisable from the wafting aroma of cowdung in the air. The rustic nature of this village is brought out with unbearable sensitivity. It’s something no man could do, only Insaan could. And Insaan does. In the hands of a lesser person, this is where it would end. But with Insaan, this is where it begins. He suffuses the film with instantly recognisable characters. Who among us hasn’t shared a table with a man who talks in donkey-like brays? Or with that typical small-town character who always — every single time — mixes up the front and back side…