‘Sigai’ will encourage more filmmakers: Jagadeesan Subu

Director Jagadeesan Subu chats about Sigai, the second Tamil film releasing directly on an OTT platform

Published - January 14, 2019 11:46 am IST

Jagadeesan Subu is the last among his friends — Karthik Subbaraj, Nalan Kumarasamy, Manikandan and Alphonse Puthren — to take the plunge into direction. During his stint as an assistant cinematographer, he would hear anecdotes from filmmakers of how they would finalise their scripts, sitting at a coffee shop. Subu, however, never believed in those stories until he experienced a deja vu moment, when he met Kathir at a coffee shop — to discuss Sigai . Excerpts from an interview with the director:

What was the idea behind Sigai ?

It’s a suspense thriller that has a transgender as the central character. When I thought about this story, the script didn’t have such a character. I was planning to write a murder-mystery story. Usually for such films, the presence of a serial killer is almost inevitable. And I didn’t want to fall into that trap.

The film comes at a time when Tamil films are being criticised for their problematic depiction of transgenders.

It’s difficult to cast an actual trans person. This is a character that’s tailor-made for actors. For Sigai , I spoke to a lot of transgenders to understand what they have gone through. In fact, the pimp’s character in the film is based on a real-life broker.

Be it Pariyerum Perumal or Kirumi, Kathir seems to have a penchant for character-driven roles.

Kathir is someone who’s very careful in selecting scripts. He takes up roles that have good scope for him to perform. Most heroes would be wary of playing such a character in Sigai . But Kathir was very particular about playing this character.

Apart from playing the lead role, Kathir has also produced this film...

Yes. It was director-cinematographer Manikandan who asked me to approach Kathir. We met at a coffee shop, where I shared the idea of Sigai . I was convinced that no producer will fund this project. Since I was not experienced in narration, I explained the one-liner to him. He didn’t react for a few minutes. Later, he said, ‘Let’s do this brother.’ His father was also equally impressed by the script and they decided to produce.

The teaser of Sigai piqued our interest when it was released in 2017. Were you at the edit table?

Of course. The teasers/trailers, in particular, are challenging. Because, the teaser/trailer should have a narrative of its own. Only then will it convince the audience. We were conscious of Sigai ’s teaser because we didn’t want to reveal the plot. At the same time, it’s important to prepare the audience for the right kind of film.

Sigai is the second Tamil film after Sila Samayangalil to release on the Internet. How did that decision come about?

Today, producing a film has become much more easier than bringing it to theatres. When we started work on this project, we had planned for a theatrical release. But somehow, things didn’t fall in place. The recent trend in the digital market has given us hope and has opened up newer avenues for small-time filmmakers and producers.

Kathir has made a strong foothold as an actor. But your first film is releasing online. Has this ever bothered you?

I was worried at first. Had I been dependent on Sigai alone , I may have borne the brunt. But I’ve completed my second film now. On the flip side, I think Sigai will encourage more young filmmakers to put out their content online.

In Bollywood, Love Per Square Foot was initially planned as a theatrical release. However, it was released online and became a hit. Do you think our audiences are digitally aware?

It’s true that the digital market is yet to penetrate into the South zone. Had it been a theatrical release, I would have been happy. But I’m even happier because the film is finally out. We won’t be fighting for theatres, if films like Sigai turn out to be successful.

Sigai was released on Zee5 on January 9. The film can be watched legally on the website: https://www.zee5.com

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