After the incredibly successful and well-received Drisyam, Jeethu Joseph is back with something completely different – Life of Josutty. A quite comedy drama film with no twists or turns and a simple story to tell, or so the tagline claims.
Life of Josutty is one of the most beautiful films this year. Jeethu Joseph and his cinematographer did an amazing job capturing the beauty of Idukki and New Zealand in every frame. Like Iyobinte Pusthakam last year Josutty is worth watching just for the visual treat. The rest of the movie isn’t too bad either.
A lot of films have claimed to have no twists or suspense. Why would you continue to watch something if you didn’t want to know what happens next? When filmmakers make this claim what they usually mean is that their film tells a simple story of the average life of an ordinary man/woman. Almost none of them deliver on that promise.
The closer you get to reality, the more the plot seems completely random. The more you try to make the story exciting, the farther it gets from reality. Sure exciting things happen in real life, but they seldom have a narrative arc. But that’s neither here nor there. Life of Josutty is not the average life of an ordinary man. It’s the extraordinary life of an ordinary man, who eventually becomes quite extraordinary himself.
The story is simple enough that there’s no need to summarise. You’ve seen this before and you’ll see this again. It’s the story of a simple man who finds himself thrust into an extraordinary (for him) life.
So yes, Life of Josutty has its fair share of twists and turns. No, they’re not the twists of a detective story or a thriller, they’re the twists you see in drama films. You know, like the one where your protagonist comes home early one day, only to find an unknown pair of shoes in his house.
Anyway the point is, don’t go expecting a completely ordinary story. In fact I don’t think there is such a thing outside of experimental films. And this is certainly not that. Life of Josutty shines in two places. The first is the beauty in every frame. The second is the middle stretch – from the wedding to the, well, twist. Dileep shines here and he’s incredibly funny.
Life of Josutty is also a surprisingly progressive film. In a story like this where a simple man from a rural village goes to the big city in a foreign country and sees how everything is different, you expect some kind of holier than thou message, which is usually simple country life is good and wholesome, whereas city life, assertive and independent women, etc. is bad. Extra-marital affairs are always wrong regardless of context or circumstances and need to be punished.
To its credit, Life of Josutty never falls into any of that. Josutty, the character learns and adapts, until he reaches a breaking point. The film, on the other hand, remains non-judgemental and allows the characters to make their case. The reasons for their actions are made clear and it’s left up to audience to decide whether they are right or wrong. The answer would probably be different for each of us.
The film is not without it’s faults, though. It lacks a strong supporting cast (except Josutty’s father played by Hareesh Peradi). The supporting cast isn’t bad. They do their jobs very well, but they don’t stand out. None of the characters feel alive. They remain one note. Flat.
Take a film like Pranchiyettan & the Saint which focuses on the Life of Pranchiyettan. The supporting cast enriches that film in a way that’s hard to describe. Those characters make the world of the film seem more real, somehow.
In this film the lack of a Nedumudi Venu or an Innocent or a K. P. A. C. Lalitha stands out by their absence. Not that you need those same actors. This film has a talented cast, which includes national and state award winners, but you almost expect some of those old guard actors to show up around the corner in this rural village straight out of a Sathyan Anthikad film.
Even with its nearly 2 hour and 45 minute run time the film feels rushed – a problem it shares with last week’s Ennu Ninte Moideen. Both films gloss over large sections of story and plot through not-so-clever use of narration. At least, Life of Josutty had the good sense to let us know the film has a narrator right at the beginning, unlike Moideen which chose to surprise us with a stealth narrator who sneaks in halfway through the movie. But, I digress.
It’s a good film, but I feel there’s a better film that stops about half an hour early. Then again, I could be biased. There was a manic 2 year old in the seat behind mine at the theatre. Towards the end of the film she decided my head was a tabla and for some reason started shaking my seat and laughing as if she was possessed by Pazuzu. Damn 2 year-olds! (Shakes fist in the air)
PS: The movie has one of the best entrances of any character in any movie courtesy of Suraj Venjaramoodu