Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey – My Flash Review!

The film opens with a lady doing kitchen chores early in the morning and leaving for work while we see a shot of a man – most likely her husband, still sleeping. We wonder if it’s a sequel to the hit Malayalam film – The Great Indian Kitchen. We soon realise it is not, as Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey (JJJJH) goes beyond the woman’s life in a kitchen. It is still about the bias against the female gender in our society, patriarchy in many forms, male chauvinism and toxic masculinity but not without establishing the way out for women. In that sense, it is a more positive commentary told largely in a satirical way.

Set in a small town in Kerala like most small-budget, Hero less Malayalam films of late, JJJH is about a girl Jaya who gets married without being able to pursue her educational and career dreams to a man who is brash, arrogant, short-tempered, boorish and in short – an ass, who slaps his wife at the drop of the hat. Taking her out for a dinner immediately and feeding her with the food that “he likes” is his way of recovery.  How the girl deals with this man and comes out triumphant and empowered at the end completes the story.

What makes the film engaging is the treatment of this serious subject laced with comedy all the way and its characterisation of people. Though the techniques adopted by the girl seem a bit outlandish, they are not completely unbelievable in the context and setting of the film. Here the writing and performances ensure that the comedy though dark and ironic at times, lands well. Coming to characterisation, the writers get it bang on and you almost have seen them in real life in Kerala. For example, how often have we seen a character who preaches idealism and feminism in public life and is totally the opposite when it comes to his own house? Not to forget the characters of the intruding uncle, the girl’s parents and the ever-changing Mother-in-law.

A good film becomes a great one when it is studded with scenes that stay with you much after the film is over. Some of the scenes in JJJJH belong to that category.  There is a scene in the beginning when the hero goes to meet the girl in an arranged marriage setting. Without knowing what to talk, he opens the conversation by asking her if she knows the price of a kg of Chicken. By the way, the hero runs a poultry farm and that is his business. While the man asks this bewildering question here without any purpose, in the end, the same question is posed by the woman to the man but to convey a certain purpose.  Again, in the climax, where the girl gets her upper hand, there is a nice twist that links to a scene at the beginning which is interesting. (Have to tried not to give out spoilers)

The making of the film by Director Vipin Das is simple with the focus largely on the screenplay, writing, and performances of the characters. The Director has co-written the film with Nashid Mohamed Famy. There are interesting scene constructs where initially you are shown portions of scenes that convey one thing and when the same scenes are played out in full, they convey a different thing altogether.  Similarly, in the scene where the girl enters the husband’s house after marriage, the camera pans to different articles in the house which are all broken but band-aided together reminding us of Balachandar’s touch in his films. As the camera shows these through the eyes of the lady, the director indicates that it is a broken house and her marriage may soon be like one of those articles – broken and band-aided.

After his pretty clean performance in Palthu Janwar, Basil Joseph in JJJJH as the toxic husband showcases his versatility in a role very few heroes will dare to take up. The female lead role is played by Darshana Rajendran who mixes up the emotions of weakness and strength as the film progresses, very well. In scenes where she needs to show her vulnerability, she speaks through her eyes. The entire supporting cast is excellent but Kudassanad Kanakam who plays the role of Basil’s mother and Azees Nedumangad as Basil’s cousin are simply outstanding.

A special mention about the background score. Music director Ankit Menon plays bits of different songs in the background without lip sync in crucial moments of the film in typical Anurag Kashyap style which is effective in many places but jarring to the ears in some. While the technique is novel, a bit of toning down of the same would have helped.

Many Malayalam films are known for the portrayal of realism on the big screen. JJJJH follows the same template where even not-so-real sequences are shown realistically. Towards the end, the court scene is a big let-down and could have been hurried through.  And the action sequence in the end – Was it at all required?

Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey is an interesting take on feminism along the lines of what we saw in the Hindi film Thappad. There it was just one slap. Here it goes beyond that one slap followed by divorce and talks about retribution in a way that we would not have imagined.  It doesn’t go down the path of the Hindi film Darlings as well. As a comedy-drama, on a serious subject like domestic violence, the film lands well and I would put it as a Must Watch. The film is out on Disney-Hotstar.

 

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