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Jeethu Joseph Interview: The filmmaker on Kooman Ram Dirshyam Mohanlal- Cinema express

Jeethu Joseph Interview: Commercial success is more important than awards and accolades

The filmmaker speaks about his latest release Kooman and reflects on making compelling thrillers, desire to experiment with new genres and upcoming projects including Ram and Drishyam3

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Published: 08th November 2022

A creator's evolution is defined by their ability to master the craft. However, the process of mastery is not a simple straightforward road. While commitment, perseverance, and consistency are endowed in the process, it is the ability to set a record and break their own that defines one's prowess. And Jeethu Joseph, the visionary director, hailed for making riveting thrillers like the Drishyam franchise, Detective (2007), Memories (2013), and the recently released Kooman, stands true to this worldview.

According to him, a spark of inspiration will guide innovative ideas that will result in sound output. For Kooman, the spark was the discussion with his frequent collaborator KR Krishna Kumar, who penned this film's script. His latest release, Kooman, has Asif Ali playing Giri, an intriguing police constable. With Kooman receiving overwhelmingly positive responses, Jeethu says, "We wanted a character that could be relatable to the audience, a boy-next-door of sorts. Our first option was Asif and we are glad that he liked the subject and agreed to come on board." The filmmaker notes that the title Kooman (owl) is similar to Giri's character as they both become vigilant in the night.

Speaking about collaborating with writers, Jeethu states that it paves the way for fresh perspectives to the story that will potentially do good to the overall output. "I am completely hands-on while working on my script. For others' stories, I have to put extra effort to understand and then visualise. It is challenging yet rewarding. A good rapport will create a platform for healthy associations."

Meanwhile, the fans cannot wait for the threequel of Jeethu Joseph's most acclaimed Drishyam franchise. The production of the third instalment was confirmed by the film's producer, Antony Perumbavoor, following the release of the second part. And as we ask about the same, Jeethu laughs and says, "It's a complicated question...For Drishyam 3, I already have something in mind. However, I'm still looking for the spark to move it forward. After that, I must develop it. If it is convincing enough, the third instalment will be made."

For Jeethu, the world of Drishyam has very much become an integral part of his life. He also observes something interesting: even though he works on several other projects, he finds himself subconsciously thinking about expanding the Drishyam franchise.

"It took many years for Drishyam to manifest. I started developing Drishyam's story even before I started working in films. I made the first instalment only after working on other movies. The sequel took seven more years for me to develop. Even though I work on other films in the interim, I simultaneously think about Drishyam and its possibilities. From researching, and to reading up on new things. I am just waiting for that right spark to put everything in place," he adds.

Even though the Drishyam franchise has been a gargantuan success with remakes making their way in other languages, including Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, and Telugu, the film did face its share of criticisms. There were opinions that Drishyam normalises a crime and upholds the idea of relating shame to a woman's body and nudity. "Criticisms don't affect me. When there's a group that appreciates me for my work, there is also another group that doesn't find my work great. I feel the positive and the brighter side of this film is the young girl opening up to the family and they standing up for each other. Besides, cinema is a representation of society so both good and bad need to be reflected in cinema," says Jeethu.

Being praised for carving out a niche is always an amazing feeling for creators and artists. The same is true for Jeethu. He is thrilled with the reception his numerous thriller movies have been getting. The director, however, does not want to be stereotyped. Even after producing several box office hits, Jeethu still yearns to experiment with various genres even if they don't always hit box-office gold. "That does not prevent me from trying new things. I try not to limit myself to any one genre. I enjoyed working on films like Life of Josutty, a family drama and Mr & Mrs Rowdy, a buddy comedy. These are still good movies, despite not receiving the same acclaim as my thrillers," claims Jeethu.

It comes as a pleasant surprise that Jeethu wants to make a children's movie next. "I'd love to do a children's film. In fact, we have plans to make films in different genres. My top priority is always to make films that the audience will enjoy and are commercial successes too. Awards and accolades come second," he says.

After, Drishyam and 12th Man, Jeethu is set to reunite with Mohanlal in Ram. The team wrapped up the London schedule and returned to India in October. The other schedules of the film will take place in Delhi, Morocco, Tunisia and Israel. "It will be a realistic action film that deals with elements like drama, and family sentiments. Also, we have not finalised if the film will be released in two parts. The producers will take the final call," he adds.

Jeethu is one of the pioneers of this recent pan-Indian movement, and he asserts that the opening up of these boundaries is always a boon for the film business. "Initally, only big-budget movies could be released in multiple languages. The situation has changed now. The best example is the popularity of Malayalam films and the recent growth of the Kannada film industry. With more pan-Indian projects, the industry will undoubtedly flourish and reach greater heights."

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