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'Mani Ratnam watched Jigarthanda and appreciated it'

August 19, 2014 09:18 IST

'Mani Ratnam watched Jigarthanda and appreciated it'

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Praveen Sundaram/Rediff.com in Bangalore

The short-film culture in Tamil Nadu has seen new filmmakers making films with interesting story lines and setting new benchmarks for Tamil cinema. 

Director Karthik Subbaraj started making short films while working in Bangalore in the software industry. After being selected for a TV reality show, he made his debut with the highly acclaimed Pizza, starring Vijay Sethupathi with whom he made several short films before and Ramya Nambeesan.

His second film Jigarthanda is a smash hit.

He spoke to rediff.com about Jigarthanda.

Karthik SubbarajYou quit your job in the software industry to be on a TV reality show on making short films and now with Jigarthanda, you have established yourself as a filmmaker in the film industry. How has the journey been so far?

It has been an exciting journey. While working in Bangalore, I was making short films. I was sent to France on work and one of my short films got selected for Naalaya Iyakkunar (Filmmakers of Tomorrow), a reality show on Tamil television.

I took off from work for ten days and came to Chennai to participate. On arrival in France, I realised I had to be in India to participate further in the competition and requested my company to let me work from Bangalore, but they did not agree.

I decided to quit my job, but there was a problem with that too. I had to serve a notice period of two months and I had to go back to France to serve that.

I did not want to go back to France. My company said they would have to terminate my services in that case. I told them to go ahead and terminate me.


Image: Lakshmi Menon and Siddharth in Jigarthanda


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'My father played a small but significant role in Jigarthanda'

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Praveen Sundaram/Rediff.com

How did your parents react to that?

My parents have let me do whatever I am interested in. Initially they were apprehensive, but when they realised that filmmaking was my passion and that I was doing a good job with the short films and the recognition in Naalaya Iyakkunar TV show, they supported and encouraged me.

My father has been a part of a few short films I made; he played a small but significant role in Jigarthanda.

Earlier this year, Forbes magazine listed your film among the top five films to watch. How did that happen?

People from the Berlinalewere looking for films from India to premiere at their festival. One of them was going around India watching films in various languages and happened to watch portions of Jigarthanda.

She was also writing for Forbes.  I had not even completed the shoot then. She saw some parts of it and that’s how it got listed in Forbes.


Image: Siddharth in Jigarthanda


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'Jigarthanda is my tribute to filmmaking and Tamil cinema'

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Praveen Sundaram/Rediff.com

Gavemic U Ary’s cinematography has been much appreciated. How was it working with him?

I am very happy I got him to film Jigarthanda. He was working in Mumbai and had already done a film in Hindi called Mastram.

The fact that he was visiting Madurai for the first time worked in my favour. We wanted to show Madurai differently. He was very eager to go to Madurai and see the place before shooting.

I also wanted to film at the bangle market in Madurai, which is inside the temple, but we did not get permission to film there. I would like to credit my art director, Vijay Murugan at this point. He recreated the bangle shop for us in Chennai.

We had planned everything much before the shoot. Of course sometimes we didn’t get the locations we wanted. For example, that assassination attempt in the bathroom scene.

I was looking for a location that was dingy but within walking distance from the canteen area. We kept postponing that scene until one day one of my assistants suggested this theatre in Porur, in Chennai, and it was just what I wanted.

Siddharth’s entry in the film is reminiscent of the Nalaya Iyakkunar TV show. Did your personal experience inspire you to write that scene?

Not exactly, but in one of the episodes, a particular jury member did not like my short film entry. Mr Pratap Pothen and Mr Madan defended my entry, but there were no squabbles as shown in Jigarthanda. I just took cinematic license to write that scene the way it is.

Every crucial scene in the film has a film in the background; like the opening paasamalar song, Ninaithaale Inikkum playing in the background in the attempted assassination scene.

Yes, it is my tribute to filmmaking and Tamil cinema.


Image: Lakshmi Menon and Siddharth in Jigarthanda

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Praveen Sundaram/Rediff.com

You have paid tribute to quite a few icons in the film.

Yes, Rajini Sir, Mr Mani Ratnam, Tarantino.

Did they get to watch it?

Mani Sir watched it and he appreciated the film.

Bobby Simha playing Sethu has reminded people of Rajinikanth in his younger days.

Though that wasn’t even remotely in my mind when filming, once or twice I did see a striking resemblance.

I immediately told Simha to tone down. He himself wasn’t aware of it. It wasn’t conscious.

Will Jigarthanda be remade in Hindi?

From the beginning I had told my producer that I would like to make Jigarthanda in Hindi also. You will know in due course.


Image: Bobby Sinha in Jigarthanda

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