Santosh Sivan: ‘Jack N’ Jill’ is a fun film set in contemporary times

Santosh Sivan 

Santosh Sivan  | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The idea for cinematographer-director Santosh Sivan’s latest Malayalam film Jack N’ Jill birthed from his conversations with friends, especially about the growth of artificial intelligence. “They form a cross-section of society, which includes scientists in NASA, doctors and engineers spread across the world. We were talking about the past, present and future, and how AI was everywhere. Look at Google chechi ( laughs) who we ask things about every day,” says Santosh.

With films such as Ananthabhadram, Urumi and Before the Rains, Santosh Sivan’s body of work in Malayalam cinema has mostly been on period drama.   

“I did not want to make another ‘epic’ now. I wanted to make a contemporary film, set in the now. Especially after the pandemic when people are not in the mood for something serious. I wanted to make a fun film,” Santosh explains. Starring Manju Warrier, Kalidas Jayaram, Soubin Shahir and Aju Varghese, Jack N’ Jill has a dash of everything, he says, adding that the film is simultaneously releasing in Tamil, in which Yogi Babu reprises Soubin Shahir’s role.

Going by the trailer, it looks like Manju Warrier is the star of the film. The actor also sang her first Tamil song for its Tamil version titled Centimeter. “We wanted to explore Manju’s hidden talents in the film — music, dance, and action too,” the veteran cinematographer says.

Directing Manju Warrier

Directing Manju Warrier | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Soubin Shahir is one of his former assistant directors who worked on Urumi. Santosh Sivan is directing Soubin for the first time, “He is like a brother, someone I have known for a long time. He has worked very hard and struggled to get where he is now. However, his interest in cinema has not diluted and he is always willing to explore.”   

Santosh Sivan’s oeuvre is cut across languages. He has directed films in Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi and has won multiple State and National Awards. “I am a visual artist and visuals don’t have a language barrier. It is an easy ride then...they transport the viewer when you are talking a visual language,” explains Santosh about the ease with which he works in other industries. 

What about the stories he chooses to tell? “The stories that connect with me are the ones that appeal to me. Ananthabhadram, for example, was derived from the stories my grandmother told me when I was a kid. Urumi happened because I was fascinated by the idea of local people and their first encounter with the White man…that thought led to the film.” 

His next big Malayalam project is Barroz: Guardian of D’Gama’s Treasure, directed by Mohanlal. Santosh says that the superstar wanted “complicated” shots, “He has an eye for visuals and wanted to explore a variety of shots. Some of which were not easy, but we managed to get them.”

They share a friendship, only strengthened during the pandemic by their love for visuals. Mohanlal would often send Santosh photographs he had clicked. “Some images I would agree with and others I would not. He would also send images of paintings and sculptures that he had or saw. We have a good relationship. He says that I have been part of films that got him awards. So, when he said he was making a film, I said yes.” 

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Printable version | May 20, 2022 3:55:16 pm |