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Interview Team : Abhishek Krishnan

Hailing from a family that has no film background, Jeethu Joseph has managed to earn himself the tag of a successful director, who has five good Malayalam movies to his credit. Drishyam, that happens to be his fifth movie, went on to break open the roofs of the box office and simultaneously opened the doors to the Tamil industry.

Here is an exclusive chat with Jeethu Joseph who stands by the threshold of the Tamil industry all set to roll out his debut film.


About yourself. How did you enter cinema?

I am basically from an agricultural family. My father was a politician. He was an MLA, but he is no more. I have 3 brothers and a sister. Each of them are in different fields. One of my brothers is a colonel in the Indian army, another a doctor and another doing business. I am the youngest among the lot.

I have had the habit of watching a lot of movies when in college. When I watched them, I would try to analyze them myself and identify the flaws. I slowly started getting the confidence that I could have done a better job. That brought in the aspiration within me. I wanted to take up a course in the Pune Film Institute. But unfortunately I could not write the entrance test as I was down with jaundice.

Then I happened to get introduced to director Jayaraj and worked with him in the Malayalam movie, Thilakkam. I used that experience to work on my first independent film.


You have traveled through different genres in Malayalam Cinema. Feel good films. Thrillers. Family Entertainers. Is this a deliberate move?

It is indeed a deliberate move. I don’t want to be branded. The one thing I have noticed in the industry is that a lot of directors and actors are being branded.  I want to break all that. That is the reason why I casted Kalabhavan Shajon, who is usually seen in comic characters, for the constable’s role.

An actor should perform all types of characters and a director should direct all kinds of films. But we can’t blame anyone here, because when we keep working on a particular genre, people will naturally think that he is an expert in that genre and will expect the same from them always.

Even now people are trying to brand me as a director of the investigative thrillers genre. That is because I am fond of such movies. But, I want to do different scripts covering different genres. I am not a writer or a film director. I am just a story teller. I wish to narrate different stories to people.


Whenever there is recreation of a block buster script into another language there is pressure. Do you feel any pressure at the moment?

I don’t have such a mindset. I am not after blockbusters. When I make a movie I expect two things. After watching the movie people should say, “Yes it was okay. The movie was watchable”. I don’t expect them to say it was extraordinary. If  I get such comments it’s an add on and an honour.

Secondly, my producers should not have faced a loss. Even if they say that the movie has broken even, I am happy with that. If they get a good profit out of the film, it is a bonus. I feel a movie should be assessed based on quality and not on the collections.

Now when people say things like, “Drishyam is the first Malayalam movie to reach the 50 crore club”, I am scared, because the movies that come in the future should not be in a race to touch the 50 crore milestone. We should concentrate more on quality.

I am a kind of person who would be happy even with low profit. So, when I remake this movie in Tamil, I just want people to say that it is a good movie. I don’t have the pressure of recreating a blockbuster record. However, I understand that this is a business. I will hence be keen on making sure the producer does not face a loss.


How did the idea of remaking the movie in Tamil originate?

Even before I spoke to Lalettan (Mohanlal) about the movie, I had mailed the script to Mr. George Pius, who is a relative of mine and also a partner of Suresh Balaje as far as Wide Angle Productions is concerned. They liked the script and wanted to do the movie in Tamil. I told them that I wished to do this in Malayalam first. Even if I had not done it in Malayalam, they were interested to make the movie in Tamil.

But, as the movie gained rave response, the idea became more concrete. Kamal Haasan sir watched the movie and expressed his interest in it. That is how it happened.


General feedback from the industry...

Actor Vikram had called me directly and appreciated the work of our team. Suresh Balaje told me that a lot of people called him and asked him to convey their wishes to me.

K. Balachander sir had sent us a four pages mail conveying his wishes. To be frank, that was the best feedback I received. He had mentioned every detail of the film in a poetic way. I felt very happy, not only because he had praised the film, but also because he had done something which I cannot. That is when I realize the level he is in.


Have you finalized on the cast and crew for the Tamil version?

Nothing has been fixed so far. Right now we are rewriting the script to fit Tamil nativity. Only after the script is finalized will we think of roping in other artists and technicians.


 Rajinikanth’s interest in the movie…


Rajini sir watched the movie and liked it a lot. He had even conveyed his best wishes. But, he has his own reasons for opting out of the movie. I am not sure of the reason. He might not have been sure if his fans would accept him in that particular role.


Your take on Piracy

Piracy is a serious offense. We filed a case against a student from Ukraine who attempted to upload the movie online. We also filed a case against a few people from Kerala. It should definitely be taken seriously. Because producers are putting in a lot of money and such acts have to be condemned.



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