I Will Not Make Drishyam 3 Just For Money, Says Jeethu Joseph

His Malayalam film, Drishyam, was a runaway hit in all the languages it was remade. The filmmaker’s last release Neru became the talk of the town for its poignant courtroom drama. Now, he is all set to make his OTT debut as the showrunner of an upcoming web series—The Secret Stories. In an exclusive conversation with Deccan Chronicle, the man behind the blockbusters, Jeethu Joseph talks about how different industries showcase heroism.


From director to show runner, what's the transition like in terms of responsibilities?

Basically, I have to sit with the script, read the script, and offer any suggestions if necessary. I will be on the sets at least for three to four days, to check the footage. I will also be involved in the editing process. It's more like supervision since they are all newcomers. The producers wanted some confidence and so they asked me to come on board as the showrunner to ensure quality of the project.

How was this change in comparison to what you have been doing all this time?

It's a new experience and I am enjoying it. The shoot has already begun and I'll be visiting the sets often. I conveyed my submissions to the director at the scripting level too. It's a whole new process.

Courtroom dramas have been your forte. What kind of preparation goes into making a movie like that?

As you know, a majority of the film, ‘Neru’ was shot inside the courtroom. Courtroom scenes should be engaging, otherwise it will get monotonous. So we had to constantly work on that. If 70 to 80% of the film is inside the court, people get bored. So we had to concentrate on the screenplay. And during the shoot, since it's not like a normal film, we have limited space. So, I took advantage of that and used four cameras at a time to shoot it like a drama, for two three minutes of continuous performances with different cameras from different angles. By doing so, we managed to get a natural reaction from the performers.

You co-wrote ‘Neru’ with Santhi Mayadevi. How did you ensure your creative ideas matched?

We tried and it worked out because she had handled the courtroom area in her previous assignments as well, whereas I was a beginner in that aspect. I have never been to a court. So I don't know how people behave there and I wanted an authentic approach to that subject. She's a family friend of mine, so it was comfortable working with her. Of course, there were differences of opinions, which were sorted after discussion. When I felt that she was right, I would incorporate her idea because there is no place for ego in this kind of work. At the end of the day, quality of the film is very important.

Like your earlier movie ‘Drishyam’, did you also get a lot of offers for the remake rights of ‘Neru’?

Many filmmakers wanted to remake ‘Neru’. But the only problem is I think the idea of our heroism is totally different when compared to other film industries and the dubbing rights for OTT was also a challenge.

You seem to have a perfect wavelength with actor Mohanlal? Is that why you keep repeating him in all your movies?

When I developed the subject, the character was apt for him. But I did ‘Koomam’ in which I roped in Asif Ali, my upcoming project ‘Nunakuzhi’ is a comedy film in which I have Basil Joseph. But for movies like RAM and ‘Drishyam’, Mohanlal fits the characterization best.

Mohan Lal brings your kind of heroism to life on the screen effortlessly.

There are good actors in Telugu as well. But usually the kind of heroism, or the acceptance of the audience there perhaps, is for a totally different kind of heroism. I don't know the pulse of Telugu or Tamil audiences. Nowadays, a lot of non-Malayalis around the country are watching Mohan Lal films after Drishyam and Lucifer. Whenever a Mohan Lal film hits OTT, they watch it even if it is with subtitles. And when it is available in their own mother tongue, so many people will watch.

We thought the Drishyam story ended with the sequel, but now we hear there’s a part 3 too?

I don't know. Once Drishyam 2 became a hit and everyone was talking about it, I told Mohan Lal sir that I have a climax, but I don't know how to reach it. This news got leaked from Mohan Lal's camp after which it turned into a strong rumour. Immediately after the sequel, people thought there was a possibility of part 3 because of the climax. Actually, I am working on it. If I get good ideas, I will definitely work on it but I am just not going to make it for money.

There are several rumours about Prithviraj Sukumaran being a part of Drishyam 3?

These are all mere rumours.

How much importance does Malayalam film industry give to box office numbers over critical acclaim

People in Kerala do care about box office numbers but the craze is not as much as Bollywood. People here demand quality too. After ‘Drishyam’ raked in crores at the box office, I said in an interview that I am really scared that our industry is going to become like Bollywood. Now people are after 100 crore, 150 crore, 200 crores! Again, it's a kind of race between the fans of big stars. I don't believe in this thing. My aim is to make a good film. My producer should be happy and not lose money.

I don't think producers have a reason to worry about you.

No, we cannot say that. So far, that has not happened. But, whenever I make a film, I'm like a newcomer. I always made sure that the producer should be safe because if there is no producer, then there is no industry. I never tried for a big budget film, the only exception being 'RAM'. But my priority is to make sure people enjoy the movie and producers don't lose any money.

Do you want to stick to thrillers or intend to explore other genres also?

I started with investigative stories, then I did 'Mummy and Me', a family drama, ‘My Boss' , a comedy. I also worked on a fantasy. I always want to change genres, but most of the producers approaching me are asking for thrillers.

Do you watch movies in other languages?

I never enjoy watching films with subtitles. Tamil is close to Malayalam and we learned Hindi in school, so I watch movies in those languages. But of course, I have seen a few films which have become runaway hits. I mostly watch Hollywood and Tamil movies.

Tell us about your next project?

There's a Hindi film in the pipeline and a few Malayalam films. I don't know which one is going to be next. But my priority now is to finish RAM, which has been held up for the last two years. We are planning to restart the project.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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