‘Joji’ movie review: Dileesh Pothan scores a hat-trick with this perceptive study of criminality


Scriptwriter Syam Pushkaran and Pothan bring together elements from Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’and K.G.George’s emergency-era classic ‘Irakal’to construct a wholly original world, that is both engaging and darkly funny

The face mask, a necessity in the post-pandemic world, might be a hindrance for many, but in the cold and sinister world painted by Dileesh Pothan in Joji, it is a perfect tool to hide your criminal intentions and guilt. “Wear a mask and come down,” asks a sort of co-conspirator to the man who has just committed his first crime, and is struggling to contain his glee.

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In his third outing Joji, Dileesh Pothan trains his lens on an affluent family living amid vast pineapple farms in Erumely. Kuttappan (P.N. Sunny), the patriarch of the Panachel family, has such a tight, authoritarian control over his family, that his youngest son Joji (Fahadh Faasil) seeks his permission before touching the car keys, to take his father (who is down with a stroke) to the hospital. Joji, on the other hand is the meek one, like the white horse he rears. But then, appearances can be deceptive.

Beneath all the tight control with which Kuttappan lords over them, discontent and resentment is brewing. Among the three brothers, Jomon (Baburaj) is the closest to his father. The second son Jaison (Joji Mundakkayam) is yearning for independence and his wife Bincy (Unnimaya) for freedom from the back-breaking and thankless household work. None of them have a plan, while a seemingly aimless and disinterested Joji has one.

Joji

  • Director: Dileesh Pothan
  • Starring: Fahadh Faaasil, Baburaj, Unnimaya, Joji Mundakkayam, P.N. Sunny
  • Duration: 1 hr 53 mins
  • Storyline: Joji, the youngest son of a rich plantation family, lives with aspirations of becoming a wealthy NRI, but his father looks down on him as a proper loser. One day, Joji takes matters into his own hands

Scriptwriter Syam Pushkaran and Pothan bring together elements from Shakespeare’s Macbeth and K.G.George’s emergency-era classic Irakal to construct a wholly original world, where self-interest and money define all human relationships. The family, even with all its financial powers, with which they are not beyond threatening the reluctant local priest to attend a family function, is but constantly concerned about the talk of the town. The transformations in the behaviour and habits of the family members after Kuttappan’s stroke are minutely etched out.

The script mocks traditions and its self-appointed protectors. Humour appears in the unlikeliest of places, like in Pothan’s previous works. Here, one of the laugh-out scenes happens during a funeral procession. When you get used to this dark humour and are guffawing comfortably, a shock lands like a country bomb thrown at your face in a beautifully-staged sequence.

The style is minimalistic, yet without leaving out anything essential. Every element and every character serve its purpose. The pace is steady and consistent all through, with the viewer never ever daring to waver in attention. Justin Varghese’s background music, with its evident western influences, gives to the film a sombre, brooding quality.

It is in the casting department that the team perhaps put its best foot forward. Be it in bringing back Sunny, whose only film performance happened a few decades back in Sphadikam; in the discovery of Joji Mundakkayam; in giving Baburaj his best role yet; or in seeing Bincy in Unnimaya, they get everything right. As for Fahadh, there is really nothing more to be said than has already been done.

Joji is as much a perceptive study of the slow unravelling of a criminal mind, as it is an indictment of the society and the family structure that is the origin point of that criminality. Dileesh Pothan has scored a hat-trick, with three films that are unlike each other.

Joji is currently streaming on Amazon Prime



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