I am slightly unhappy: Drushyam 2 filmmaker Jeethu Joseph on his ‘thriller director’ tag

In this exclusive interview with Indianexpress.com, Drushyam 2 filmmaker Jeethu Joseph opens up about his inspirations, his future projects and why he is not happy to be known only as a 'thriller director’.

Jeethu Joseph has carved a niche for himself as a director of thriller films, thanks to the massive success of his 2013 crime thriller Drishyam, which was not only remade in all major Indian languages but also inspired a Chinese remake. Jeethu, however, now wants to move away from all the crime, deceit and cover-up and do something fun, light and offer wholesome entertainment to the family audience.

But, he is most sought after by producers for his ability to whip up an engaging thriller. He is now waiting for the release of Drushyam 2, which is the remake of Drishyam 2, the sequel to his 2013 hit. The film is set to premiere on Amazon Prime Video this Thursday.

In this exclusive interview with Indianexpress.com, Jeethu opens up about his inspirations, his future projects and why he is not happy to be known only as a ‘thriller director’.

Excerpts from the conversation:

The original sequel in Malayalam and the remake of that sequel in Telugu happened in quick succession. We can say almost immediately. Had you planned the Telugu remake while making it in Malayalam?

When we finished shooting the Malayalam sequel, Suresh (Babu) sir called me and asked me for the film’s script. I had sent him an English translation of it. He told me he liked the script and wanted to see the film. After the dubbing was completed, I arranged a preview screening for him without music and background score. He liked the film also. And parallelly, we began to work on the Telugu remake.

How did you develop your taste for thrillers?

When I was young, I read a lot of Agatha Christie’s stories, Sherlock Holmes and other novels. Basically, I love thrillers. But, I also love other genres. My first film was an investigative movie (Detective) and my second film was a family movie (Mummy & Me). The next one was a comedy movie (My Boss). So I really want to do movies in all genres. But, after doing Memories and Drishyam back to back, people have tagged me as a thriller director. Nowadays, I ask my producers, ‘Why are you not making comedy films with me?’ I have done comedy films in the past. Everyone is asking for thrillers.

But, you are not unhappy with that kind of a reputation, or are you?

I am slightly unhappy. I am a storyteller and I want to tell different kinds of stories. But, I am right now planning a family film and a children’s film. See I want to change. But, it so happens that my next two or three films are thrillers.

What films/filmmakers played an influential role in shaping your storytelling techniques?

My favourite director is Padmarajan. He has done films in different genres. I always consider him as my guru. His films travelled between reality and fantasy. They were natural and at the same time entertaining.


Is it difficult to imagine another actor in a role played by Mohanlal?

At first, I approached Mammootty with this film. He was busy at the time and I had to wait for more than a year for him to get free. So, it was Mammootty who asked me to approach Mohanlal for Drishyam. If Mammootty had done this film, I know he would have played his character very well. Then people would have said that they can’t think of any actor other than Mammootty in this role. It is like that. Even Kamal Haasan sir played the character in his own way. Every actor brings his own style to the character and makes it his own.

How different is Venkatesh’s Rambabu from Mohanlal’s Georgekutty?

The characterization of the protagonist is almost similar between Malayalam and Telugu. The characterization of the protagonist is very different between Papanasam and Drishyam. In Malayalam and Telugu, the protagonist keeps everything to himself. He never shows his emotions. In Papanasam, Suyambulingam is very emotional. In more than one scene, you can see Suyambulingam crying. In Telugu and Malayalam, you won’t find that difference. The presentation, however, depends on the actor. Mohanlal has a different style and Venkatesh’s presentation style is slightly different.

Did you have any regret about Drishyam 2, which you got to improve in the Telugu remake?

Actually, I missed one main thing. While editing Drishyam 2, I realised something I could have done but I couldn’t add that in the film at that stage. So I have included that while making the Telugu remake. And we made a few changes but nothing major as every scene is connected. You cannot take away one piece or add another new piece. And we should also change the film to suit the cultural taste of the Telugu audience.


Are you planning to remake this sequel in Tamil also?

Some discussions are going on. Kamal sir is still thinking about it. If he says yes, I am always ready. My bags are already packed and ready.

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