Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey
And the long awaited Malayalam film is finally here on OTT! With that, and after a long wait, I have finished watching the new Malayalam film Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey on Hotstar. The film had a theatrical release in October during Diwali and it broke so many Box Office Records in Kerala. And how I wish I could have watched this film in a theatre! I missed it, and in hope of getting to watch the film on OTT soon, I had to wait for 2 months which is unlike for any Malayalam film, generally speaking. In the meanwhile, my Youtube Channel Popcorn Reviewss was flooded with the recommendations of this film, and that is when I knew that this film is special!
People started discovering Malayalam cinema and its prolific content mainly during the twin lockdowns. It was in 2021 when the Malayalam Film Industry started the year with a bang in the form of one of my favourite films of the year, The Great Indian Kitchen which was a subtle and profound take on patriarchy which is prevalent in out society. Cut to 2022, it is the Malayalam Film Industry who are ensuring that the year ends on an absolute high with Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey, a disruptive genre film in many ways. And through this review I will lay out as to why this film is probably the Best Malayalam Film of 2022 along with Pada, Thallumaala and Avasavyuham. So here we go!
Story & Screenplay
Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey follows the story of a young woman from a conservative household who is married off to a seemingly ‘nice guy’. This until she is a victim of domestic abuse. Will she ‘fight’ back? The story here does deal with such a serious issue yet the tone here is that of a comedy for major parts of the film. This was a tricky proposition simply because you did need to retain the seriousness of the situation while conditionally opting to make people laugh. But the gamble does pay off and how! The screenplay standing at almost 145 minutes may seem slightly long to begin with, but once the ‘action’ begins you are in for a treat like no other!
The drama kicks off(no pun intended here) with the introduction of the protagonist who is seemingly from a household who does support her needs as a child. In a clever display of foreshadowing only to reveal the cards in the very next scene, nothing is what it seems like. We live in a country where females right from their childhood are treated secondary to the males in their household. Right from recycling the boy’s toys to his clothes and books and presented them as ‘new’ to the girls has been a norm. And all of this is showcased perfectly here. Another thing highlighted within the first 15 minutes of the film was of how a few men ‘fake’ feminism whereas the reality is that deep down they are insecure and do not believe in it themselves. In a stunning turn of events, how the protagonist does fall for her feminist teacher only to get a taste of reality was brilliantly showcased!
The drama is engaging and engrossing right from the beginning. It does act as a mirror in the first hour, highlighting all the atrocities that a female would be facing even today. In the film, even when the protagonist is married off to a seemingly nice guy, you do know something is amyss. But what follows will shock you at the very beginning. The mid level shots of the protagonist being slapped and subjected to domestic abuse would send a shiver down your spine. And needless to say that there was no one to support the protagonist from either sides of the family. It was at this point that I was wondering as to what novelty does the film have to offer. This was an extreme plot of The Great Indian Kitchen. But that is when there is a tonal shift in probably a film that is disruptive in this genre!
Out of nowhere there is a hilarious twist in the tale and that is something that had my jaws drop yet I was secretly rooting for the protagonist. And this very reaction also does boil down to the patriarchy which is prevalent in almost all males, almost reflective of the reaction of the character of Basil Joseph. The burning question is, why can’t female fight back? But more importantly, literally! This was the basic deconstruction of patriarchy where the roles suddenly did seem to be reversed leading up to a brilliant display of humour, while keeping the issue at hand intact.
The second hour formulates a nice little display of upmanship between the couple. One of the most hilarious set of scenes include the character of the husband learning Karate online in order ro emulate his wife. I was laughing my guts out in that incredibly good face off between the couple. The drama is bittersweet(for the couple) right throughout the second hour. There are moments of love followed by a sort of an ego tussle leading up to many moments of laughter. There are also moments where the protagonist is often cornered with little to no support from anyone. Yet, her fightback literally and metaphorically was heartening. The final act comprises of a crisp courtroom scene which strike a balance between drama and comedy so well. It is serious in what it wants to say but with a dash of sarcasm that leads to laughter. And Malayalam films being Malayalam films show no remorse at the end and here it ain’t no different. But it will surely put a smile on your face with the surprising turn of events, thus marking a brilliant display of screenplay writing that is genre disruptive!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are witty and very well written. The conversations did seem so organic and something that did blend with the actions transpiring onscreen. The music is good with a comedic vibe to it. The BGM is excellent and blends perfectly with the mood of the drama. The cinematography brilliantly captures the combat sequences yet I will never forget the mid level shots featuring the husband slapping his wife. That for me was soul shattering and spine chilling! Director Vipin Das who had earlier directed the brilliant Malayalam film Antakshari is in even better form here. She strikes a fine balance between the seriousness of the drama yet sprinkling it with moments of comedy in this genre disruptive film which may well be a landmark in many ways. The direction is absolutely brilliant!
The performances are just outstanding. Aju Varghese will make your blood boil in his 10 minute appearance which marks a great job done. Manju Pillai absolutely owns it in the final act as the judge. Azees Nedumangad as Ani is brilliant with his effortless comic timing and his character is quite hilarious too(given how his own wife has given him a divorce yet he is always advising the character of Basil to act accordingly).
Basil Joseph as Rajesh is a treat to watch. Firstly, I would never have imagined him to be cast in this role. His character is not at all likable and that disarming smile of Basil would not have helped. Yet, this did turn out to be a clever decision as it did add a layer of ambiguity to his character early on. He will make you angry with his antics in the first hour but his comedic timing is for all to witness and cherish. He was willing to take blows from a ‘female’ and not many mainstream actors would settle for that(Rajkummar Rao is the only other name that pops up who did show balls in Monica O My Darling). This was a brilliant display of an actor surrendering to the vision of the filmmaker and contributing phenomenally well to the film through his acting.
Darshana Rajendran as Jaya is outstanding here. Her character does have an unusual character arc which is unique in so many ways. From starting off as someone who is timid and shackled to a full blown ‘action heroine’, it was absolutely brilliant to witness her onscreen. The sentiments of the viewers are always with her and it did have a lot to do with her stoic presence. And boy can she kick some butt! Amazing job done!
Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey is a genre disruptive film marking it as one of the best Malayalam films of 2022 that comes with my highest recommendation! Available on Hotstar and Highly Highly Recommended!