Jeetu Joseph on directing Kaithi, working with Jyothika, and how Thambi is a unique brother-sister story
'Though brother-sister relationship is the core of Thambi, all the other characters also have a distinct identity and purpose,' says director Jeetu Joseph.
Popular Malayalam director Jeethu Joseph's thriller drama Thambi, starring Karthi, Jyotika, Sathyaraj, and Nikhila Vimal in the lead roles, has received rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. The film witnessed a simultaneous release in Telugu (titled Donga) owing to the popularity of Karthi and Sathyaraj in the Telugu-speaking states.
Jeethu has always been an established filmmaker in Kerala but his brand value and credentials zoomed to a whole different league with Mohanlal-starrer Drishyam, which emerged as an all-time blockbuster in the industry in 2013. The success and impact of Drishyam was such it was remade all over the world literally, including four other Indian languages — Drushyam (2014) in Telugu, Drishya (2014) in Kannada, Papanasam (2015) in Tamil, and Drishyam (2015) in Hindi. It was also remade in Sinhalese as the Sri Lankan film Dharmayudhaya (2017). Drishyam is also the first Indian film to be remade in Chinese, titled Sheep Without a Shepherd (2019).
Jeethu’s most recent film was The Body (released on 13 December), which marked his Bollywood debut. Though this Emraan Hashmi and Vedhika-starrer sank without a trace, Jeethu is quietly confident about the prospects of Thambi. He met the press in Chennai ahead of the release of the film, and talked at length about the genre and lead cast.
Talking about the idea to cast Karthi and Jyothika as siblings, Jeethu told Firstpost, "I actually didn’t pick these two for the film. The producers approached me with an idea to cast these two together, and I also liked the combination that these two offered to me. I was involved in casting the other actors in the film. Thambi is a collaborative effort, and doesn’t just belong to me. Bollywood writers Rensil D'Silva and Sameer Arora have written the story while Manikandan (Vikram Vedha dialogue writer) was also involved in the screenplay work of Thambi, along with the three of us. Manikandan also helped bridge the language barrier, and brought in the Tamil flavour. It’s always nice to be creatively involved with other writers, and get their perspective. There was no ego amidst us, and all of us only had the film’s best intentions in mind."
"Though brother-sister relationship is at the core of Thambi, all the other characters also have a distinct identity and purpose. It isdifferent from the other brother-sister sentiment films that you have seen so far," he added.
Tamil audiences have already had a film titled Thambi back in 2006, with Madhavan and Pooja in lead roles, and directed by Seeman. Asked why he opted for the same title again, Jeethu said, "We actually had many titles in consideration but this was the best. For a film based on the relationship between an elder sister and younger brother, what can be a more suitable title than Thambi!"
After sporting a rugged look in his previous blockbuster Kaithi, Karthi has donned two different avatars in Thambi. "Yes, in the Goa portions of the film, Karthi will be seen with long hair. A lot of people in Goa actually live with this look. When the audience has been seeing and enjoying Karthi in mostly the same look in film after film, I was sure that they will enjoy him in this new look too. He has performed well as usual, bringing in varied nuances in his character. He doesn’t have dual roles. It’s just one character with different variations."
Talking about Jyothika's active second innings in the industry, Jeethu said, "She’s a brilliant actress. For any character that she takes on, she puts in a lot of dedicated efforts. The way she prepares herself for every scene is also very professional. She has brought out her usual innocent expressions, and also some intense, deadly moments."
Thambi also has veteran actress Sowcar Janaki in an important role. The film has the services of ace technicians, such as cinematographer RD Rajasekhar and music composer of 96, Govind Vasantha. It is produced by Viacom 18 and Parallel Minds Productions, which belongs to Jyotika's younger brother Suraj Sadanah.
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