Monday, January 20, 2014

On a Hot streak!

Director Jeethu Joseph’s blockbuster hit, ‘Drishyam’, is the talking point in Kerala now. This is his third success in a row

Photo by Melton Antony 

By Shevlin Sebastian

At the conclusion of the Malayalam film, ‘Drishyam’ (Visuals), during a night show at Kochi, the audience breaks out into a spontaneous applause. A few draw their breaths in, clearly stunned by the Hitchcockian ending. Through word of mouth and updates on Facebook and Twitter, the film has become a blockbuster hit.

The story is simple: a boy tries to blackmail a girl to have sex and that event leads to a series of spectacular twists and turns, which deeply affects two families. Both the stars, Mohanlal and Meena, have put in understated but riveting performances. Others who impressed were Kalabhavan Shajohn, who plays a brutal cop, and the children Ansiba Hassan and Esther.

At his Kochi home, the director Jeethu Joseph is constantly getting calls and messages on his mobile phone. As he talks, actress Praveena sends a message: ‘Amazing, brilliant, superlative. My husband leapt out of his seat, and clapped on seeing the climax. Congrats Jeethu, this is one of the outstanding scripts in our industry for a long time.’ Not surprisingly, the Hindu, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada rights have been sold for a whopping amount.

Jeethu is on a roll. His previous films, ‘Mummy and Me’, ‘My Boss’ and ‘Memories’ have all become hits. However, he is the most unlikely candidate to become one of Mollywood’s hot-shot young directors.

The son of the late politician, VV Joseph, Jeethu was busy looking after the rubber estates of the family. Life was comfortable, but boring. Secretly, Jeethu had nursed a wish to join films, having become fascinated with the medium during his college days. Fate intervened when he went to stay, along with his wife, Linta, at his cousin, Geetha Joy’s house in Thiruvananthapuram for a few days.

On a table in the living room he saw a brochure for the film, ‘Karunam’, directed by Jairaj. When he asked Geetha about this, she told him that Jairaj was a tenant at their house in Thrissur. Later, Linta told Geetha that Jeethu was interested in films. So Geetha asked Jairaj whether Jeethu could join him as an assistant, and the latter agreed.

Jeethu worked with Jairaj on a Hindi film, ‘Bhibatsa’ (2002) which starred Atul Kulkarni and Seema Biswas. “What I learnt from Jayaraj was that a director should always be bold,” says Jeethu. To learn the craft, Jeethu watched a lot of films. “I would observe the editing patterns,” he says. “I learnt everything from seeing movies. I am self-taught and still learning.”

His first film, ‘Detective’ did not do so well. But, thereafter, things have moved forward smoothly.  

Asked the reasons for his success, Jeethu says, “The key is a good script. If you do not have one, whatever gimmicks you do, the film will be a failure.”

Actress Meena concurs. “In ‘Drishyam’, the script was the hero,” she says. “It had everything: a family-oriented story, suspense, comedy, and sentiments. We actors just enhanced an already brilliant script.”

Meena also liked Jeethu’s direction. “Jeethu will give an outline of the scene and would ask us what we wanted to do in this particular situation,” she says. “When we do it, he will suggest some improvisations. He is a gentle person, and I felt comfortable working with him.”  

Meanwhile, when asked about his future plans, Jeethu says, “First I need to take a break and calm down. Thereafter, I have to choose among the many options in front of me.” 

(Sunday Magazine, The New Indian Express, South India and Delhi)  

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