Dilani Rabindran



Jigarthanda: Lessons in Filmmaking, Jigarthanda, Karthik Subbaraj


Take a bow, Karthik Subbaraj. Jigarthanda is the talk of the global Indian film circuit and a hard fought battle to release the movie the way it was originally intended has been won with pomp and circumstance, and rightfully so. In fact, it’s hard to believe that such a successful epic is only the second feature from this young director.

Jigarthanda is a tribute to filmmaking. It is a raised glass (possibly of director’s tears, as so elegantly quoted in the movie) to all that it takes to make an audience forget themselves for a few hours. But as much as it is a tribute, it is also an expert lesson in quality filmmaking. Like the hilarious montages of hopeless aspiring thespians in the film trying to learn from the best, Jigarthanda is in itself a master class in filmmaking to all those students aspiring to shake up a theatre like Mr. Subbaraj. For those of you who were too busy getting lost in this groundbreaking movie, Behindwoods has been kind enough to put together a few syllabus notes for your benefit:
Character Classifications – Who said your villains can’t also be your comedians? One of the highlights of Jigarthanda was the dual use of the film’s so-called antagonists for some of the most gut-wrenching laughs in the film. As Siddharth’s character Karthik pursues the lion through what he deduces as the ideal paths we are treated to suspense, plot movement and pure comic relief, leaving the audience in slight confusion over whether or not to adore the flaws in bravado of these so called thugs. In a film full of rich characters the comedy flows naturally as part of the story, adding depth to the roles of rowdies in a novel way and begging to ask the question why bad guys can’t also be funny.
Less is More – Yes, it is a nearly 3-hour movie, so ‘less is more’ seems counterintuitive. But the phrase refers to Mr. Subbaraj’s brilliantly executed scenes that said so much, with so little dialogue. From Karthik’s slowly intoxicated persuasion of ‘second hero Oorni - where a swinging bench and a bottle of Jack Daniels fill in the blanks - to a now mass-revered scene involving an occupied bathroom stall and Sethu’s urgent need to go, Subbaraj managed to balance powerful dialogues of all kinds (punch, romance, passion) with scenes where excellent acting and cinematography told us all we needed to know. He taught those willing to listen that sometimes silence is golden.
Chemistry & Romance are 2 Different ThingsIn this day in age, love blossoms in many different ways. Kayal and Karthik are not your average couple, and their love story is not the candy-floss kind, which makes things far more captivating. In giving the leading lady a bold, vengeful and simultaneously innocent personality we are treated to raw chemistry, some of which is romantic and some of which is rooted in conflict. Theirs is in many ways a love-hate relationship, but whether they’re feuding, canoodling or just using each other we see a novel type of attraction in their story – distinct electricity that has the potential to spark into full blown love. Jigarthanda’s love story may not seem all that warm, but it was far more indicative of the world’s many varied love stories today where a girl and boy can admit they’re not cut out to be cinema heroes or heroines, but they can try their best. Romance and chemistry are not the same thing, and we rarely get to see both presented with the type of realism Mr. Subbaraj provides – the kind many romantics dream of. 
Fade to Black...or White – Gone are the days when you have to use all your best jokes in the first half and then focus on the serious stuff later, says Mr. Subbaraj. We see peaks of villainy early on in the film and witness as a story gets entirely turned upside down and inside out, spreading the laughs and sentiment throughout. Flashbacks are all over the place, told from different points of view, and no one character has a clearly predictable path. Audiences were asked not to reveal the story upon seeing the film, but to be honest, it would be difficult to explain anyways; it is a mastery of deception and complexity that has to be seen to be believed.
To summarize the lecture, Jigarthanda is an example of the masterpieces that can be borne when artists dare to color outside of the lines. As a filmmaker and involuntary teacher the young Karthik Subbaraj has unofficially earned tenure for a work of pure and beautiful chaos – a true cinema lover’s delight. Mr. Subbaraj’s class in filmmaking is currently being offered at a theatre near you, and if you believe in learning from the best and brightest, it is highly suggested that you attend.

Written by Dilani Rabindran

Respond to
Behindwoods is not responsible for the views of columnists.



This page hosts the views of the authors of the column. The views are generally about films, movie reviews, movie news, songs, music, film actors and actresses, directors, producers, cinematographers, music directors, and all others that contribute for the success or failure of a film. People looking for movies online, movie reviews, movie analysis, public response for a movie, will find this page useful.