“Joji’ movie review: Dileesh Pothan’s Macbeth adaptation is an insightful crime drama

MUMBAI: Dileesh Pothan is widely considered one of the most talented filmmakers in Mollywood. His debut movie Maheshinte Prathikaram that starred Fahadh Faasil was a critical and commercial success, and later, the duo came together to deliver another blockbuster with Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum. And now, Fahadh and Dileesh have teamed up again with Joji, and the film had its OTT release on Amazon Prime Video on 7 April.

Dileesh Pothan’s adaptation of Macbeth

Joji is inspired from one of Shakespeare’s four major tragedies, Macbeth. In adapting the play for Indian audiences, Pothan and writer Syam Pushkaran set the story against the backdrop of a rich Christian family in south Kerala. The film primarily focuses on the three sons of a wealthy plantation owner, who are vying for their share of the inheritance after their father suffers a stroke. 

The eldest son Jomon (Baburaj) is much like his father. He is tough, hard-working, and also an alcoholic. The second son Jaison (Joji Mundakkayam) is an ordinary man who runs the family’s ancestral business. However, the third son Joji (Fahadh Faasil) is considered a bit of a worthless person by his family members, and his father always calls him a baby born out of ‘rubber milk’. 

Even though neither Jomon nor Jaison have proper plans to inherit their share of the property, the aimless Joji has a proper plan to secure his father’s huge wealth for himself. 

Despite being a modern-day adaptation of Macbeth, Pothan and Pushkaran have brought together elements from KG George’s emergency-era classic Irakal to construct a wholly original world of a Christian family. The writer conveys that self-interest and money define all human relationships, and if needs are not met, people may often turn violent. 

Strong detailing supported by a stellar star cast

The film solely belongs to Dileesh Pothan and Syam Pushkar. From the opening scene where young Popy receives an air gun from an e-commerce seller, the plot is rich in foreshadowing and building anticipation. In one scene, Bincy (Unnimaya Prasad) asks Fahadh Faasil to wear a mask, symbolic of the mystery and crookedness associated with his character. The request from Bincy also harks back to the iconic words uttered by Lady Macbeth, “Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it.” 

The dialogues are crisp, and the cinematography is atmospheric. With a runtime of just one hour and 52 minutes, Joji touches the highpoints of the thriller genre and will not bore audiences in the least. 

When it comes to performances, Baburaj shone as Jomon. The director deserves plaudits for bringing back Sunny, whose only film performance happened a few decades back in Sphadikam. Joji Mundakkayam and Unnimaya Prasad excelled as the couple duo. Fahadh Faasil, as always, did a remarkable job and breathed life into Joji on screen. 

Final verdict

Joji is a complex and insightful crime drama film crafted by Pothan and masterfully delineates how society and family incite criminal traits in the mind of a person. Dileesh Pothan has scored a hat-trick by delivering three successful movies which are special in their own way.