Malayalam movies are getting wider audience attention since the development of OTT platforms. Even before that Malayalam film industry was also considered as one of the best industries among Indian film industries. Joji (2021) is one of such movie which gained worldwide attention through its plot, making and casting. This 2021 film was written by Shyam Pushkaran and directed by Dileesh Pothan. In the title itself the makers said it is ” inspired from Shakespeare’s Macbeth”.
The plot revolves around a wealthy family of three sons, their father , daughter in law and grandson Poppy in Kerala. Joji , the character played by Fahad Faasil is the youngest son of the family is the protagonist of the movie who has a negative shade. Joji along with his elder brothers Jomon and Jaison lead a submissive life under their dominating father Panachel Kuttappan. Bincy (Unnimaya Prasad) is the daughter in law of the family. Though the father of the family is old, he is fit and active in the family affairs. The elder sons aids him in agriculture and business, but Joji is financially dependent on the father and running unsuccessful ventures, where Bincy, wife of Jaison manages the household chores and is always in the kitchen. As the movie progresses Kuttappan meets with an accident while engaging in affairs in pond and become paralyzes. However Kuttappan returns home bed ridden and unable to speak. Joji was happy for this but his other brothers arrange for his last rites. But after a surgery the father’s condition gets improved. At this all both sons ask money from him for their ventures , but he rejects. Here, we can see that Bincy is the brain behind these actions by Joji and Jaison. Bincy shares her frustration and also triggers Joji by saying that ” your good days will be wasted on this kitchen slab”. Joji finally decides to kill the father. Then Joji replaces father’s daily medication, and this is witnessed by Bincy. Bincy and Jaison too secretly wishes for the death of their father. Finally the father, Kuttappan dies soon. After the death, Dr Felix, a family friend presides for the partition of the dead father’s estate. After this an encounter with an employer of the plantation results in the death of Jomon. This was also a murder by Joji. Over the next few days the family members finds that Joji is the killer of Jomon, but Joji denies the claim. Towards the end Joji attempts suicide by firing the same air gun he used for killing Jomon. In the suicide note left by Joji he blames the family members and society for all his acts. In the final scenes we can see that Joji survives in the hospital bed , while the police officer asks Joji to confess his crime by blinking his eyes, Joji forcefully does not blink and at this the movie comes to an end.
While analyzing the film Joji in the light of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, we can identify Joji as Macbeth. The tragic flaw of Macbeth was excessive ambition and desire for power. Here Joji’s character also shows similar ambition, power and greed. He needed independence from the dominating power of his father. Macbeth’s ambition began with the prediction of the three witches. In the same way Dr Felix addressed Joji as “crorepati” or rich and this triggered Joji. Whereas the character of Bincy resembles all the characteristics of Lady Macbeth. By being a mute witness to Joji’s acts, she agrees them. While Joji longs for power and money, Bincy’s motive behind these acts is independence from the patriarchial family. That’s why she hires a servant soon after the father’s death. Bincy clearly knows the state of mind of Joji that’s why she says to Joji in the funeral to ” wear a mask and come”. On the other hand elder son Jomon is loyal to their father like Banquo, who is loyal to the King Duncan and in many ways opposite to Macbeth.
After the murder Joji feels the same frustration which Macbeth felt. The dream Joji had of his dead father, resembles the dreams and apparitions Macbeth had. But there are also slight deviations in the characteristics of Joji from that of Macbeth. Macbeth was always a winner. He believed that this greatness in battlefield make him deserve for the thrown of Scotland. But on the other hand Joji is an engineering dropout, who doesn’t have an ambition, but only greed, and considered as the scapegoat of the family. And in the end there is a kind of sympathy towards Macbeth. But the police says to Joji in the final scene that ” you didn’t die. So, its trouble for you and us as well”.
Eventhough the story of Joji is inspired by Macbeth, the narrative aspect has a lot of variations. Major image in the play Macbeth was blood. The blood and dagger haunts Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. But in the film Joji there is no blood and the death of Kuttappan is presented as a voice over from distance. Macbeth’s soliloquies are another important factor narrative technique in the play Macbeth. In the film director brilliantly places this in the silence and confusion in the closed doors of his room, “Joji’s palace”. The makers brilliantly portrayed the story of greed, vengeance and betrayal of Macbeth with the cultural shift of 21st century Kerala.
The praiseworthy acting of Fahad Faasil, Unnimaya along with other actors, background score and cinematography made Joji a modern day classic.