Arun D Jose's Jo and Jo: Lockdown chaos with a lighter touch
Filmmaker Arun D Jose talks about mining comedy during the second wave in his maiden directorial effort, Jo and Jo, starring Nikhila Vimal, Mathew Thomas and Naslen
Since the onset of the pandemic, a few filmmakers found themselves exercising their creative muscles. While some came up with ideas during the first wave, others found a way to kickstart projects during the second. Debutant Arun D Jose is among the latter. His aim was simple: Make something that didn't delve into the dark aspects of the pandemic. He dusted up a story that was in his possession for a long time and placed it in the setting of the second wave.
"The idea was to weave a lighthearted entertainer around the frustration of people cooped up in their homes during the lockdown," says Arun, who found the premise a minefield of multiple wacky, comical situations. "When family members had to spend long periods looking at each others' faces, and students had to deal with online classes, that scenario brings up numerous conflicts."
Arun, who co-wrote the script with Raveesh Nath, describes Jo and Jo as a "coming-of-age dramedy" that doesn't have a heavy bone. Nikhila Vimal and Mathew Thomas play the "battling" siblings (as seen from the trailer), but the film also features -- according to Arun -- other characters with an "equally crucial" presence. "My film explores, through three parallel tracks, the conflicts between friends, siblings, and other family members when put in such a situation, and how they tackle them," says the filmmaker, adding that Nikhila tackles a character she hasn't done before. The promos of Jo and Jo find Nikhila in an unhinged comical space alongside Johny Antony and Sminu Sijo (as the parents) and Naslen as Mathew's friend.
Asked how he handled the range of hyper and subdued performances in the film, Arun reasons, "Since people show their true side when feeling trapped during the lockdown, we can't show their pseudo characteristics. We have to show how they really behave when at home with their family members. When the facade of decorum slips away, they bring out their authentic selves because they have no other option. I think everyone will be able to find a relatable moment from the film, be it someone living from a rural or town background, regardless of class differences. We haven't romanticised even one character in the film. I looked at them the same way I look at my neighbours or family members."
Before making his directorial debut, Arun worked in the industry for over a decade as a chief associate under filmmakers such as Lenin Rajendran, Major Ravi, Aashiq Abu, Abrid Shine, P Prajith, Ranjith Sankar, and Madhav Ramadasan, among others.
Ansar Shah (Ishq) shot the film while Chaman Chacko (Kala) edited it. Govind Vasantha (96) composed the score.
Jo and Jo hits theatres on May 13