Joji (2021)

Joji (2021)
Dir: Dileesh Pothan

A dark screenplay, a melancholic background score, sleek edit and stunning visuals. This sums up Dileesh Pothan’s Joji to me. A metaphorical cum psychological take on William Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

‘Appearances can be deceptive’ – Joji works on this philosophy throughout the duration of the film. And that said, the film, shot during the Covid-19 pandemic, has characters wearing masks, quite symbolic of the slyness the characters bring in with their performances.

Joji, shot in the interiors of a rubber plantation in Kerala, looks at the lives of three brothers – Jomon (Baburaj), Jaison (Joji Mundakayam) and Joji (Fahadh Faasil) in the aftermath of their father and strict patriarch Kuttappan’s death post a stroke. Each of them has their own malicious intention and want to stride away from their father’s shadow. However, at the same time, they are bound by societal norms until the perfect (or not so) plan comes in their way.

Syam Pushkaran’s writing is strikingly dark in places, coupled with some unapologetic black humour. A scene in the film where a drunk Jomon serves eggs to the priest, attending his father’s memorial despite threatening him, as an insult, and later feeling relieved when he comes to know that he has left without eating a meal provides an awkward moment of laughter.

Likewise, the film looks at the psyche of humans through nature. There is a scene where Joji asks Bincy (Unnimaya Prasad) to serve him fish, fresh from the pond where they breed them, and in another we see a handful of medicines being dumped into the same pond, implying the greed and the quest to kill.

In another scene, Bincy – the only female character in the film or the lady Macbeth, asks Joji to wear a mask before coming for his father’s memorial service. It’s a scene that lingers with you much after the film has ended.

Dileesh Pothan, who directs Fahadh for the third time after Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, makes a hattrick with Joji.

His skilful direction with the most minimalist resources just goes to show that filmmaking can be done smartly without going gung-ho over rich production budgets. Joji is a complete film with some complete and superlative performances, backed by smart writing and fine technicalities.

If there was a more metaphorical inspiration of something like Macbeth, Joji strikingly proves to be one.

Joji is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

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