In the interviews before the release of Joji, Dileesh Pothan had said that the movie Joji is a tragedy. But looking at how he and Syam Pushkaran have constructed this character of Joji, their version of Macbeth looks more like a dark comedy. You have to be empathetic towards Joji to feel the movie as a tragedy, and the smartness of the makers is that they have left some spaces in this movie that would somewhere make us think about the past of Joji, which we only get in bits and pieces.
The story here revolves around the Panachel family. Panachel Kuttappan has three sons. Jomon, Jaison, and the youngest one, Joji. Jomon is a divorcee, and his son Popy lives with the family. Jaison is married to Bincy. Joji had some peculiar business interests, and he was never his dad’s favorite. Kuttappan is a physically strong person who was a threatening figure to everyone in that family. The events that happen in the Panachel family when Kuttappan gets partially paralyzed after a massive stroke are what we see in the movie Joji.
If you compare it with the structure of Macbeth, Joji is a very vague adaptation. There is a restructuring happening in terms of character placements and dynamics. This particular reconstruction makes Joji more of a thriller rather than an intense drama driven by a moral dilemma. Macbeth is a character who has inner conflicts and guilt driving him. But Joji is one person who seems to have surpassed that phase and is very clear and cunning about his intentions. The movie attains this thriller, black comedy texture mainly because of the tone change in this character.
Joji is one character who is frustrated because of the way people treat him as a secondary, and at the same time, there is a dangerous clarity in his intentions. Fahadh Faasil balances the two dimensions of this character very naturally. In the sequence where everyone looks at him suspiciously, one could see the actor in him performing different shades of emotions with ease within a span of minutes. Baburaj gets a memorable role as the pure at heart Jomon. Unnimaya Prasad’s character is the Lady Macbeth equivalent, and her subtle portrayal of desperations was convincing. Joji Mundakkayam as Jaison was fine. Sunny PN as Panachel Kuttappan was extremely believable. Shammi Thilakan, as the mediator uncle, was also impressive.
Dileesh Pothan and Syam Pushkaran have always approached their story ideas with minimalism. Here also we can see that. In Maheshinte Prathikaram, we saw Mahesh’s chappals in the first visual, which became a deciding factor in the movie. Here also, one can see such an establishing thing in the early portions. And just like Prakash City and Kasargod, the way Pothan marks the landscape is also brilliant. We are taken to the calm hilly areas through a delivery boy’s journey from the busy city. Shyju Khalid’s cinematography not only grabs the breathtaking beauty of the environment but through some extreme wide shots set inside claustrophobic spaces like the kitchen, he establishes the conflicts between the characters really well. The cuts’ pacing takes the movie forward in an engaging manner, despite the film having very minimal conversations. The score done by Justin Varghese respects the silences.
The society represented in Joji seems to be the version of the witches, the forces that conspired Macbeth to commit the crimes. The minimal information we have about Joji and the last-minute entry of society into the picture gives the film a climax that one can debate and maneuver into various spaces. And I would say that’s the high you get from watching a movie of this kind.
The minimal information we have about Joji and the last-minute entry of society into the picture gives the film a climax that one can debate and maneuver into various spaces.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended