American entertainment (the movies and shows that the Indian masses are most exposed to among the global entertainment options) tends to be full of adults who were scarred by their parents, and it is commonplace to hear such characters utter this I wail: “oh my god.” God, I have become my mom/dad.” if that’s one end of the relationship spectrum, mainstream Indian cinema is the other, dominated by mothers and fathers who are adored by their obedient sons and daughters. director dileesh pothan’s joji departs from the Indian norm, but departs from American clichés.
Imagine facing the possible death of a parent you fear, resent, or at best dislike. That’s the situation this film’s eponymous hero (fahadh faasil) finds himself in along with the ragtag gang that is the joint Panachel family.
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joji has a close and informal relationship with bincy (unnimaya prasad), who is married to his shy older brother jaison (joji mundakayam). Jomon’s older brother (Baburaj) is a stormy alcoholic who, along with his son Popy (Alister Alex), shares his sprawling dwelling.
When patriarch kuttappan pk panachel (pn sunny) suffers a stroke, his heirs must balance their true feelings for him with their facade to society.
kuttappan is an enterprising, physically intimidating man who sticks to a tough exercise routine despite his advanced age, rightly distrusting his offspring and attacking at least one of them. When he falls seriously ill, reactions at home range from relief in certain circles that he will not find out about his faults, to fear that he will be furious at how his business was run in his absence, to anxiety that he has written a will. .
Although none of the characters are above reproach, they are not above judging others, but the film crew itself is not. Even when Panachels do horrible things or turn a blind eye to someone else’s horrible behavior, they are not painted as stereotypical villains. in fact, they are people with a normal/ordinary appearance who commit crimes and misdeeds with an air of everyday life; this is what makes his exploits both shocking and hilarious.
joji paints an intriguing portrait of the antonym of mourning in this house of intrigue. Like some of the best of the new wave of Malayalam cinema, it is a thoughtful and vigilant film in which a chain of events unfolds at a natural pace, presenting a wealth of insight into Malayali culture and customs throughout. along the way. Succession concerns in the Panachel household, gossip from those who claim to support them, the influence of the local church on their lives, the strained relationship between the parish priest (Basil Joseph) and this wealthy family all add up to a delightful comedy. black that perhaps only dileesh pothan and writer syam pushkaran could have.
this is dileesh’s third directorial venture, all three with fahadh, and follows the success of maheshinte prathikaaram (2016) and thondimuthalum driksakshiyum (2017). Syam’s enviable filmography includes Maheshinte Prathikaaram, Mayaanadhi and Kumbalangi Nights. The trio have been at the forefront of the Malayalam film movement which has caused a sensation across India.
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The story focuses unequivocally on Fahadh’s character, with the actor playing a deceptively calm slacker seething with rage with the kind of unassuming brilliance that is now his trademark. joji’s indolence, for one, is established not just through the bluntness of jomon’s teasing or the realization that kuttappan used to refer to his youngest son as “second piece”, but by little touches like that early scene in which she turns on a video class session, she immediately flops onto a bed and uses her feet to pull up the sheet at the foot of the bed to partially cover herself because she dislikes the effort involved in reaching for it with her hands.
A major flaw in Mollywood’s much-lauded new-generation cinema is the infrequency of stories about women. dileesh’s films have also revolved around their male leads and been populated primarily by men, but he has done better than his contemporaries, not enough, but better, by featuring at least one significant female character in each of his works that have agency and are written with empathy jimsy was a spirited rival to mahesh, sreeja was crucial to thondimuthalum, and here in joji, a main character’s unconscious moves depend on bincy’s complicity.
Playing the other member of the Panachel ensemble who, like Joji, masks his frustration, Unnimaya (also credited as an executive producer here) is excellent as Bincy. Barring an outburst, she doesn’t betray the agitation beneath her superficial composure. Through her, Dileesh underscores the patriarchal attitudes in this household, with the demands made by her lazy brother-in-law, Jaison’s flow of instructions placid to her, the messy kitchen counter Joji leaves behind, not the great Indian-grade kitchen. despicable, but notorious nonetheless, and the threat of violence he directs at her at one point.
this brings us to joji’s tenuous connection to shakespeare. The opening text on the screen says that the movie is inspired by Macbeth. Dileesh was reportedly inspired by the basic framework of Macbeth and removed the plot. If a link needs to be drawn, it is this: that in both, the “hero” engages in behavior that leads to a series of events beyond his control, forcing him to do worse and worse. p>
(warning: the next three paragraphs don’t reveal plot details, but some readers may skip over them)
Macbeth, however, is a capable soldier fueled by a prophecy, maddened ambition, and Lady Macbeth’s instigation. joji, on the other hand, is a lazy guy who is driven to action by anger, the desire for revenge in the face of humiliation, and the enthusiasm to break free from what he considers to be chains while he fails to introspect the lethargy and lack of trust him. joji gives the impression of being casual, macbeth never does. bincy urges jaison, not joji, who i assume is the macbeth in this movie, to approach his father with a proposal that makes him uncomfortable. the idea of her doesn’t come from her, it comes from a man.
In any case, joji turns the lady macbeth template on its head. shakespeare liked the stereotype of a woman as the instigator of a reluctant man, which i suspect has its roots in the biblical mythology of eve leading adam into temptation. Syam lays the responsibility for Joji’s misdeeds entirely on the man himself.
perhaps it can also be said that joji panachel is both macbeth and lady macbeth, dragged into nightmares, in the film’s most alarming sequence, and insomnia from the worry of being caught, very similar but different From the legendary sleepwalking scenes of Lady M. that are born of guilt instead.
Joji’s acting and writing are so nuanced that it often feels like not much is going on here despite the world of confusion on display. even the masks necessitated by the current covid19 pandemic, during which this story takes place, take on a whole new meaning in the imagination of this script. Whether intentionally or not, in an Indian who has long debated the use of pellet guns against Kashmiri civilians, Joji even makes a statement about the deadly nature of these weapons.
The fantastic supporting cast portrays the characters around Joji with a subtlety that is the hallmark of this film, backed up by editor Kiran Das, who takes time to recount the moments rather than skim past them. of unnecessary energy. dop shyju khalid seems as comfortable handing out outlandish photos of the countryside as he does turning the panachel residence into a haunting space. Justin Varghese’s music and Ganesh Marar’s sound design are wonderfully understated, deployed to quicken the urgency or emphasize the meditative tone of the scenes.
the difference between the rest of the characters and joji’s protagonist is that they are people of questionable morals but he, as we are gradually discovering, has none. there are limits that they do not cross, they do not draw lines.
trust the man who wrote kumbalangi nights to write a tale of immorality rivaling amorality, and one that’s surprising, wry, whimsical and comic in equal measure.
Score: 3.5 (out of 5 stars)
joji is streaming on amazon prime video
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