Joji Review: The Brilliant Film Confirms Fahadh Faasil To Be Indian Cinema’s Greatest Actor

Joji, starring Fahadh Faasil, Unnimaya Prasad, Baburaj, Joji Mundakayam, Sunny PN is a dark brooding translocation of the Shakspearean tragedy with unexpected bursts of warmth and humour. Read the review below

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Joji Review: The Brilliant Film Confirms Fahadh Faasil To Be Indian Cinema’s Greatest Actor

Is  Fahadh Faasil  India’s greatest living actor? In film after film, he proves himself a fearless peerless seamless actor who merges into his characters like water in a  stream. And better still, flows down that stream where the human condition merges with the very bedrock of existence.

And look at where  Fahadh has arrived in Joji! Shakespeare’s Macbeth gets the treatment which I am sure would make Shakespeare himself envious. Joji is a dark brooding translocation of the Shakspearean tragedy with unexpected bursts of warmth and humour which Shakespeare could have never imagined.

Magically the characters in Syam Pushkaran’s screenplay are relocated from their Shakespearean bleakness to a Malayali verdancy. The overpowering greenery of rural Kerala has always served as a compelling counterpoint to the dramatic tensions so organically generated in Malayalam films. The tension has never been more palpable as it is in Joji. You can cut it with a knife and all you will see are bloodless wounds in the family of  Kuttappan P K Panachel(Sunny PN), a tyrannical patriarch who runs the family business with a tight fist and an immovable grip over his three sons. While one of them, a drunken divorced bully named  Jomon(Baburaj)  loves his mean-spirited father unconditionally, the quieter Jaison(played brilliantly by  Joji Mundakayam) has Daddy issues that he has long suppressed within himself.

It is the youngest son, a wastrel named Joji who is the focus of the radiantly inky plot. Joji is of course played by the great Fahad Faasil who brings to the character a kind of patriarchal bitterness that manifests itself in not-expected burst of devastating violence. This is director Dileesh Pothan’s third directorial with Fahadh(after  Maheshinte Prathikaaram and  Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum) and  by far the most reflective, moody, sinister , subtle  and sublime.

Though Macbeth is  an inherently violent tale  of patricide and  Oedipal guilt,  Pothan’s film does away with the  vileness  of  the protgonist’s deeds  by  introducing a  kind  a dithering  juvenilia   into  Jijo’s character. His chosen weapon of  violence is an airgun and his selected hideaway is a half-dug well. Fahadh’s Jijo is an  unlikely  villain and hence all the more devastating. He  is  also  an unlikely Shakespearean hero who has  in all probability never  heard of Shakespeare.

How unlike  Vishal Bhardwaj’s  Macbeth(Maqbool) where all the  main characters behaved as if they had graduated in Shakespearean  literature.

Joji is a  remarkably artless tragedy filled with a  looming respect for  the spaces that divide individuals within  the same family. Cinematographer  Shyju Khalid  creates a sense  of distance and  isolation by capturing characters who often sit physically distanced  from  one another   in the family mansion. In one striking shot we see Joji and his  Bhabhi in two different adjacent rooms  in the same frame. Clearly  the frames are designed for the  big screen. But what to do? If wishes were horses, Joji  would be riding them, not selling them without his  father’s knowledge.

The relationship between Joji  and his sister-in-law(Unnimaya Prasad) seems  so ambiguous precisely because it doesn’t  try to be  complicated. Familial complications, says  Dileesh Pothan are  alibis  we generate  to  justify and rationalize our greed and covetousness. Replete  with a wondrous images of everyday poetry(see Joji examining his father’s medical pills  of different colours) , Joji is  a film that  we all will go back to in the coming years wondering, How did we miss this and that?!  For now don’t miss this great film with one of India’s greatest actors giving one of his  greatest performances  in a film that doesn’t aspire to greatness. It just gets  there without straining to do so.


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