‘Drishyam’, a thriller about a man who covers up a crime to protect his family, was a game changer in Malayalam director Jeethu Joseph’s career.
Remade in four Indian languages — Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada — Joseph’s story travelled overseas to Sri Lanka to be made into a Sinhalese version titled ‘Dharmayuddhaya’ in 2017. The Chinese remake ‘Sheep Without a Shepherd’ released on December 12 making $29 million (Dh106.5 million) in the country in three days.
While ‘Drishyam’ established Joseph as a force to be reckoned with, its success came with a burden.
“Producers only want me to make thrillers,” said Joseph, who started his career with ‘The Detective’, a successful crime story. Subsequently he proved that he is adept at comedy with his second film ‘Mummy and Me.’ His Hindi debut film ‘The Body’ released on December 13. This thriller is the remake of a Spanish film of the same name. Now he makes his Tamil debut film ‘Thambi’ with — you guessed right — a thriller.
‘Thambi’ is pivoted around two siblings and the bond they used to share, with Jyothika and Karthi playing the lead roles. Interestingly, the story is written by Bollywood writer-director Rensil D’Silva along with Sameer Arora. K Manikandan has written the Tamil dialogues. Joseph, who was also involved in the scripting of ‘Thambi’, said that working in a group has its advantages.
“We get to discuss different perspectives and angles to a story. An issue arises only if people have egos. Fortunately with this team there were no ego clashes,” Joseph said.
‘Thambi’ is a family drama about a long lost brother returning home after several years.
Calling Jyotika a perfectionist, Joseph said: “She wanted her lines before the shoot to prepare. On the sets she often asked if I was happy with the shot and was willing to go for re-takes.”
“Karthi is a director’s actor,” added Joseph. “He has a good script sense and helped me in understanding Tamil dialogues. It was wonderful working with him — a complete professional and very disciplined.”
Jyothika plays Parvathy, the older sister waiting for her younger brother Saravanan (played by Karthi). From the trailer, Saravanan appears to be an easy-going man who seems to have more than one identity. Malayalam actress Nikhila Vimal is paired opposite Karthi. Sathyaraj and Sita play the parents and Sowcar Janaki is the grandmother.
Joseph found the octogenarian actress Janaki very cool.
“She has a fire still and was ready to roll down a flight of steps for a scene. She even cooked for us one day,” he said.
‘Thambi’ was shot in Goa, Ooty, Palakkad and Coimbatore and is produced by Viacom Motion 18 Pictures and Suraj Sadanah.
Joseph finds working on remakes boring and prefers a new story every time.
“It’s not about making money but about enjoying work,” he added.
The director is keen on exploring new languages.
“Filmmaking is the same wherever you go,” he said.
He found working in the Hindi industry relaxed with scheduled hours of shooting. Teaming up with Rishi Kapoor and Emraan Hashmi on ‘The Body’ was memorable.
“Both are dedicated and complete professionals. Rishi Kapoor gives good suggestions and does not mind if his inputs are not accepted. Generally he does not like shooting in the night. But he cooperated during filming of ‘The Body.’ Emraan looks at the totality of a film and not just his role,” Joseph said.
Joseph’s next project is Malayalam film ‘Ram’, for which he teams again with Mohanlal. Trisha, Inderjit Sukumaran and Adil Hussain also star in the movie and shooting begins in Kochi on December 18.
“It is a mini mass entertainer,” Joseph said.
Comedy is also up the alley for this fan of noted Malayalam director Padmarajan.
‘Mummy and Me’, his first success with comedy, was the result of two years of struggle.
“This women-centric story was made at a time when such stories were not seen. The audience’s response on the first day’s show is something I treasure fondly. It is my personal favourite along with another film of mine, ‘Life of Joskutty,’” Joseph said.
‘Thambi’ releases in UAE on December 19.