His last two films being thrillers, (or a sub-genre of 'family thrillers', if you will), with Life of Josutty, Jeethu Joseph's pace calculator might conclude that the director is a little shy where speed is concerned, but that's only in comparison to his previous flicks. Life of Josutty sure is 'an autobiography' of sorts, as the director states, and attributes its longevity and detailing to this factor.
As is apparent, the film is all about Josutty—an engaging progression of Josutty (Dileep) from an unassuming man from Kattappana in Idukki to a (leaving an empty space for an adjective you can form for yourself after watching the movie) guy in New Zealand. His life is mapped from his childhood till he turns forty. That life is an educational institution, and people, mere chapters in them, is the general idea that is elaborated through the said life of Josutty. In a way, the story subverts the usual damsel-in-distressful-domesticity and makes the man at the receiving end of the distress.
From where we sit, the movie feels identifiable, running on familiar terrains and hitting tangible emotional junctures. As is suitable for an autobiography, Josutty narrates the story, and Jeethu Joseph has opted for another amusing perspective as well—an over the top (more as an aerial perspective and less as an idiomatic reference) view that tells his audience what's good and what's 'not good'. A pair of angels (both played by Aqsa Bhatt)—one in white, looking serene and another, in a deep shade of brown with her smouldering gaze—both watching over the life of the protagonist, create the dichotomy that the director is looking for—to broadly categorize events as good or bad. This, although slightly inclining towards a strange way of expression, might hit the right chord with the audience.
For someone adapting to new ways of life in New Zealand, the narrative is peppered with funny instances, some of which are quite enjoyable. The Indian diaspora is shown in sensible light, without overtones of 'western life influencing the native Indian culture'. Their survival instincts, tiding over the many obstacles and being estranged from families seem a close shave with reality, which is kept intact throughout the movie.
Among the women, all of them wear a different shade bringing a definite versatility to the picture. Their takes on life is closely linked to their circumstances and not on general stereotypes. Be it Jessy (Rachana Narayanankutty), Rose (Jyothi Krishna) or the character of Priya, to each her way of justifiable life.
Life of Josutty invokes familial bonds, and is a proponent of progressing in life, come what may. And it does a good job of that. Dileep has been given many an emotional space to explore, and he fares well. Suraj Venjaranmoodu, Saju Navodaya, Noby Markose and Chembil Ashokan up the hilarity, while Harish Peradi plays the good samaritan father to commendable effect. For hilarity, try the inevitable elbowing and haggling for seats after a wedding ceremony in the movie that is well-placed. So is the scene where Josutty tried to buy a 'puttu-maker' from a store in New Zealand. Despite these funny scenarios, the one elusive question that lingers with a Jeethu Joseph brand of comedy relates to how easily he plays with the term 'rape' for comical or even romantic effect. It was prominent in 'Drishyam' and you can catch a glimpse of it here as well. However, Josutty inspires, and in more ways than one, makes for a good structured story; something that is largely eclipsed by mass entertainers.
Onmanorama Rating: 3.25/5