Ever wondered when you find yourself in a sticky situation as to how the person at the other hand would probably interpret the situation? It’s easy to think of how we are affected, after all that is what comes to us naturally right? Perhaps putting oneself in somebody else’s shoes could actually change one’s perspective on something at times? I’ve often thought on these lines, sometimes even wondering how we are so preoccupied with ourselves that we never bother for a moment to look at it from another’s point of view. And when someone happens to move out of your life, either by accident or by design, how do you take it, especially if he/she happened to mean a lot to you? Yes you are hurt, shattered, disappointed, angry etc but do you manage to move on gracefully? I’ve learnt it the hard way myself and realize that no matter what you can, some relationships come with an expiry life whether you like it or not. In case if you are wondering if I’ve gone crazy, oh!no relax, not at all, but I can’t but help think of all these after watching Jeethu Joseph’s latest Malayalam film, Life of Josutty featuring Dileep in the titular role.
Jeethu Joseph probably has the most envious track record among Malayalam filmmakers these days, thanks to his unprecedented successful box office run so far. With the mega success of Drishyam and with the recent success of its Tamil version Papanasam, he is also now popular in the rest of the Country as well. Life of Josutty is his latest Malayalam film which brings him back with Dileep, the two of them having already worked together in the popular film, My Boss (2013). What’s also interesting is that Life of Josutty also marks the foray of Eros International into Malayalam Cinema for the first time and hence the film has been eagerly awaited. Over the last few months the film has generated a lot of questions in my mind and many others. Will Jeethu Joseph continue his successful run at the box office with this film, will Life of Josutty turn out to be a welcome change for Dileep who hasn’t really been having a great run of late and will Eros start their Malayalam innings on a good note? Well, considering all these questions Life of Josutty certainly is one of the most eagerly awaited Malayalam films this year.
Life of Josutty as the title suggests is a tale that’s all about Josutty who begins his life as a kid in the high ranges of Kattappana in Idukki district, going on to encounter various ups and downs on the way before life takes him to New Zealand for a crucial phase in his journey. Josutty (Dileep) lives with his parents and leads a simple yet tough life. He dropped out of school and preferred instead to while away his time with his friend Geevarghese (Noby). Growing up he realizes there are problems at home; his elder sister’s dowry is yet to be paid in full while he has a younger sister (Krishna Prabha) who is still unmarried. As a kid Josutty had wanted to become a priest, but all that went for a toss as he reciprocated the love of his childhood friend and neighbour, Jessy (Rachana Narayanankutty). Their love story as expected has a villain in the form of Jessy’s father who is unwilling to have his daughter marry an uneducated man with no proper job and thus they get separated and Jessy marries someone else. This is when life takes an interesting turn in his case as Josutty reluctantly decides to get married to Rose (Jyothi Krishna) in an attempt to bring his family out of financial trouble. Rose is a divorcee and works as a nurse based in New Zealand and thus begins a new chapter in the life of Josutty. What happens from thereon is what the rest of the film is all about.
After 2 different thrillers, Memories and Drishyam (and Papansam as well) probably in a deliberate attempt to do something quite different, Jeethu Joseph has turned to a fairly simple and straightforward family entertainer with Life of Josutty. Also perhaps this is the only film of his so far that hasn’t been written by him (story by producer Jayalal Menon, screenplay by Rajesh Varma). What has turned out as the end result is a look into the life and times of a man, focusing on an important stage of his life, here in case of Josutty it’s when he moves from the age of 30 to 40, with life eventually turning out to be a cycle of sorts. There are no twists or turns whatsoever and the proceedings are kept uncomplicated, in case you are waiting for something unexpected to happen, then let me warn you that you maybe disappointed. At the core it is a drama with many serious moments as well, however Jeethu Joseph has taken a lot of care to maintain the streak of humour all through the film which quite helps. The first half of the film, set in the village of Kattappana is quite well done, filled with light moments as we see Josutty having a good time in the company of his friends, Geevarghese and Ramesh (Saju Navodaya).
The film loses its momentum a bit in the second half as the tale meanders to an extent. However it is commendable to see Jeethu Joseph managing to keep the proceedings engaging to a large extent, not an easy task considering the fairly simple plot involved. The film also takes a mature and contemporary way of approaching sensitive subjects like premarital sex, family honour; following one’s heart, gender equality etc. without trying to be preachy.Life of Josutty at times does remind one of other films, towards the beginning one thinks of Abrid Shine’s 1983 as we see Josutty and Jessy going to school together and falling in love, but the comparison ends there. But it is a lot more similar in many ways with Ranjith’s Kadal Kadannu Oru Maathukutty, and though Ranjith failed to do justice to the subject, Jeethu Joseph succeeds by keeping the proceedings interesting in the process never stretching the narrative unnecessarily. In fact there is even an element of fantasy woven into the tale but even thankfully even that doesn’t look out of place, it’s been done in an interesting fashion.
The film has some excellent visuals and DOP Ravichandran captures the scenic beauty of the place, especially the high ranges of Idukki very well on screen. But what was the need for Jeethu and Ravichandran to be so obsessed with aerial shots beats me, as the film has an abundance of the same, some of them being totally unnecessary. At a run time of 166 minutes the film moves at a leisurely pace, maybe editor Ayoob Khan could have tried to sharpen the momentum a bit in the second half. Anil Johnson’s music is effective and goes in flow with the narrative. The songs may not be outstanding but thankfully appear at the right moment in the film. The film has a huge supporting star cast, with a lot of them appearing in brief cameos including Sudhir Karamana, Sunil Sukhada, P.Balachandran, Sasi Kalinga etc. In terms of performances Suraj Venjaramoodu and Krishna Prabha as Varkey and Mollykutty are good while Noby and Saju Navodaya in the first half and Chembil Ashokan in the second half provide Dileep good support. Hareesh Perady is wonderful as Joseph, the father of Josutty and the bonding between the father and son is shown quite well. All the 3 leading ladies, Rachana Narayanankutty, Jyothi Krishna and Renjini Rupesh (as Priya) play their parts well and do justice to their characters. The film takes a slightly easy route to end the tale, perhaps to satisfy the majority of the audience.
Life of Josutty is in many ways a good outing for Dileep, he plays Josutty with a lot of conviction and needless to say it is easily one of his better films in recent times. Jeethu Joseph and Dileep have managed to get their second outing quite right as well as they have collaborated keeping in mind their expectations clearly. A film like this depends completely on the leading man as this is all about his journey and Dileep doesn’t disappoint at all, very effective is his portrayal.It is to Jeethu Joseph’s credit that in today’s changing times he has gone ahead and presented us with a simple, slice of life tale, managing to keep it engaging and emerging a winner to a large extent. This life story is not without issues but makes for a pleasant viewing certainly.
Note-the film is playing with English subtitles in screens outside Kerala and while the songs haven’t been subtitled & despite the subtitles suddenly missing in a few spots, its still a decent effort (by Vijay George?).Interesting to see the subtitles written almost in a screenplay like fashion.