Director Tarsem Singh has spilled beans on ‘Dear Jassi’; which is his first film to be shot in India. According to him, the film takes certain threads of inspiration from his own late mother, where he wondered why a Canadian woman of Indian heritage would plot to have her daughter abducted then murdered. ‘Dear Jassi’, ahead of its global release, was first premiered at the TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival), and it is touted to be a romance story, but also features grisly murder and violence.
Speaking to Deadline, Tarsem Singh said: “It is a love story, but with a grisly murder at its centre.”
‘Dear Jassi’ is inspired by the real-life honour killing of the Indo-Canadian beautician Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu in June 2000.
The incident saw thugs ambushing the Sikh couple of Jaswinder and her husband Sidhu, who dragged the young bride to a desolate farm in a Punjabi village and slit her throat, based directly on orders given by the girl’s own mother.
The gangsters were also given direct support by the local police, while the woman’s mother was at the other end of a phone thousands of miles away in Vancouver, Canada according to court testimony and police reports.
Talking about this, Tarsem said: “You don’t hear about it that much, but it’s more often than you think.”
While creating the villain, he said: “The only way I could comprehend what a villainous character this person was is to think of a pure person that I know.
Despite Tarsem’s mother having nothing to do with it, the filmmaker borrowed a few traits from his mother in order to explore what happens when a good person turns evil.
“And I thought of my mother, and literally all I could think of was that if you put a woman like that into the situation. … I could see it happening.”
Singh suggested that for good people to do such bad things, there’s usually a culture of religion underpinning.
“She means well and she’s doing something horrific. That I saw a lot from my mother, that meaning well in the name of God or in the name of the cultural thing you’re tied up in. You can do some horrendous s***.”
He continued: “But that does not justify the act at all. Not even one per cent. But you know what? I come from that culture. … It’s not at all justifiable under any stretch of the imagination, but when you can identify with them, it’s a lot more disturbing.”
Tarsem Singh belongs to a Sikh family from Jalandhar, though he left India at the age of 24, to pursue film studies at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
Soon after he began directing music, most notably; R.E.M.’s ‘Losing My Religion’. His first movie was 2000’s ‘The Cell’ starring Jennifer Lopez. He self-financed ‘The Fall’ (2006) and followed that up with ‘Immortals’ in 2011, and then ‘Mirror Mirror’ in 2012 with his last film being ‘Self/less’ in 2015.
Later he shot the short film ‘911’ for Lady Gaga, which has been viewed 81 million times on YouTube.