"Gangster films have more scope for unpredictability" - Karthik Subbaraj talks ahead of Jagame Thandhiram

Siddarth Srinivasan -


Right before the release of Jagame Thandhiram which drops tomorrow on Netflix, we at LetsOTT catch up with the film’s director Karthik Subbaraj, talking about the journey of the film, his inspirations towards it and the experience of working with a star like Dhanush. Excerpts from the interview below, 

A lot of films in your career have the ‘gangster influence’. What inspires you to bring in such tales and how do you differentiate between films and characters? 

For me, it is about the unpredictability of any screenplay or film that I write. It can be a family drama, a comedy or anything but I don't like it if everything is predictable. Gangster films have more scope for that as their life itself is unpredictable. If you see classic gangster films like The Godfather or Scarface, it is not just about the violence but they have a beautiful emotion in every film. In Godfather, it is the legacy while in Scarface it is the brother-sister sentiment. I personally believe that a strong emotion carried with any story has more scope to connect with the audiences.

What is the process of plotting Jagame Thandhiram? Here, you are starting off your story in Madurai and taking it all the way to the UK. 

The first spark for this film came during the film festival screening of Jigarthanda in New York. I was speaking with my friends, talking about how we should make a gangster film here. I have seen these streets in the classic gangster films that we all have come across, and I wanted to come back here and make a film bridging the gap between a gangster in New York and a man from Madurai. I pictured Robert de Niro and Dhanush sir in the script from the beginning. Moreover, the story needs to speak about something relevant and represent stories about foreign immigrants. When all these merged together, I got an exciting idea in hand. 

The stunt sequences in your films and the build-up to them are always special. What is your process when it comes to conceiving such scenes? 

We have grown up with action. Even in childhood, we used to ask our parents how many fights there are in a film and then only go to the film. We as an audience, enjoy the build-up to the fight. I will be very keen on writing such sequences, and try to engage the audiences before the actual fight with the writing itself. 

How important is the re-writing process of a script, after an actor comes in?

The first draft always brings about the character’s traits, and what are the important turns in the story. In the case of Jagame Thandhiram, once Dhanush sir agrees to the role, we definitely re-write the film with the character suiting his image and how the other characters react to him as well. When we know that an actor will bring his A-game to a particular scene, we tend to elevate it even further. It is not just for the star, it is for small actors as well. Only in the final draft, we will understand the film fully and be able to visualize the entire thing. 

Jagame Thandhiram comes to Netflix on Friday, the 18th of June in 17 languages. Dont miss it!


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