A MACBETHIAN ANALYSIS OF JOJI

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 Joji in the light of Macbeth, Joji can be identified as Macbeth, with his aim towards power. The tragic flaw of Macbeth was over ambition. Here Joji’s character also shows this same ambition and power and he needed independence from the dominating power of his father. Macbeth’s ambition began from the moment, when he witnessed and heard the witches. Their prediction was one of the reason for his change. In the same way Dr Felix addressed Joji as “rich” and this triggered Joji. Whereas the character of Bincy (Unnimaya) who is Joji’s sister in law, resembles all the characteristics of Lady Macbeth. By being a mute witness to Joji’s acts, she agrees to all his acts. While Joji longs for power and money, Bincy’s motive behind these acts are independence from the patriarchal family. Like Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, Joji and Bincy are the powerful characters who shares same dependence. Bincy clearly knows the state of mind of Joji. That’s why she says to Joji in his father’s funeral to “wear a mask and come”. Whereas other son Jomon is loyal to their father like Banquo, who was loyal to King Duncan, and in many ways Macbeth’s opposite.

After the murder Joji feels the same kind of frustration and confusion, which Macbeth felt. But on the other hand Bincy is portrayed as powerful than Joji. The dream of dead father, resembles Macbeth’s three apparitions and visions. His soliloquies in the closed room (Joji’s Palace) also resembles that of Macbeth’s. But he was not ready to reveal and confess his crime, that’s why he blamed the society for all his acts. There is a slight deviation in the characteristics of Joji from Macbeth. Macbeth is the one who always was the winner, and this made him greed. He believed that with his greatness in the battlefield he deserves the throne of Scotland. But on the other hand Joji is the one who is an engineering dropout, who doesn’t have any ambition, but only greed.

Towards the end Macbeth is stripped of “honor, love, obedience, troops of friends” and there is a kind of sympathy towards Macbeth in the end. But in this film, the police says to Joji that “you didn’t die, so it is trouble for you and us as well”. Even though Joji resembles the plot and narrative aspect of theatre, there are a lot of variations. With the praiseworthy performance of Fahad Fasil, Unnimaya, Sunny and other casts, Joji fits in the universe of Macbeth. Dileesh Pothan brilliantly fits Macbeth in the twenty first century universe with Joji’s palace. The music and cinematography makes this film a classic one.

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