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Rarely does one come across a movie which handles a serious social issue with a touch of humour to soften the grim narrative. Truly a delight to watch, the 2022 Malayalam film ‘Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey’, which is streaming on Disney Hotstar, does just that.
The film, directed by Vipin Das, manages to give even the grave issue of domestic violence a comic touch, but without trivialising it. The message underlying the film – the importance of women’s empowerment – is never lost, despite the funny scenes. While the Hindi film ‘Darlings’ was a dark, somewhat macabre comedy, ‘Jaya…’ is pure humour that brings a chuckle from the audience even as it roots for its female protagonist fervently.
Jayabharati’s story is not unusual. She lives in a patriarchal world where her conservative parents give preference to her brother’s education. She has to fight to be allowed to go to college. She is romantically attracted to her college lecturer who talks about women’s empowerment and freedom. But he too turns out to be a control freak.
Jaya (Darshana Rajendran) gets reluctantly married to Rajesh (Basil Joseph), a poultry farmer. He is short-tempered and slaps his wife at the slightest provocation. He also gets violent if food is not prepared according to his liking and throws the food, breaking the dish on more than one occasion. Initially, Jaya is fearful and tells her parents she cannot continue in her marital home. Unfortunately, they tell her she has to ‘adjust’ – in other words, tolerate the physical violence.
A desperate Jaya learns martial arts by viewing videos and practising at home to protect herself. One day, when Rajesh gets violent and tries to grab her phone, she retaliates and beats him up. Rajesh is stunned and does not know what to do initially. Then, he too trains in combat. But he is unable to match up to Jaya.
The two families get together and Rajesh and Jaya seeming patch up their differences. On the advice of a cousin, Rajesh tries to woo Jaya and get her pregnant in order to curb her freedom. Jaya loses the baby and leaves her husband on coming to know of his contemptible plan. Her parents refuse to support her and she moves to a hostel. Since she has not completed her degree, getting a job is difficult.
Meanwhile, Rajesh files for divorce and there is an engaging court scene which highlights gender imbalance, again in a lighter vein. The judge tells Rajesh (and the court) that what a woman needs more than anything else are three things – equality, liberty and justice.
Jaya signs the divorce papers. In an interesting twist, she reveals to Rajesh that she is also in the poultry business. In fact, she has taken over Rajesh’s rival’s poultry farm.
Darshana Rajendran gives a superb, restrained performance. She has few dialogues. Her eyes and facial expression say it all. Basil Joseph is also competent in the weak, negative role. Not many actors would have taken up such a role. Kudos to him!
I am a freelance journalist and write on parenting, personalities, women’s issues, environment, and other social causes. read more...
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