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Exclusive! Sidharth Bharathan on casting Soubin Shahir in Djinn: We wanted a performer who wasn’t overexposed

Sidharth Bharathan talks about his upcoming theatrical release Djinn, starring Soubin Shahir and Santhy Balachandran

  • Sanjith Sidhardhan

Last Updated: 05.00 AM, Dec 27, 2022

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Director Sidharth Bharathan is finally breathing a sigh of relief and deservedly so. The actor-filmmaker has had to wait for almost three years and endure multiple challenges for the release of Soubin Shahir’s Djinn, a movie that he says “is my best film yet”.

Scripted by Rajesh Gopinadhan, the movie, which will hit theatres on December 30 this year, also stars Sharafudheen, Shine Tom Chacko and Santhy Balachandran in pivotal roles. In an exclusive chat ahead of the movie’s release, Sidharth reveals why Djinn is different from his previous directorials, how the wait for its release has been “frustrating and depressing” and more.


What is the movie about?

In the trailer, if you’d notice, there’s a hint of the storyline about a person from a village travelling to the city and the changes that happen. But there’s also something else that happens, which we don’t want to reveal yet. However, it doesn’t have anything to do with supernatural elements. When you are under a lot of stress in life, there are times when your mental balance slips. It’s usually in these cases that people in the past would say that a person is possessed. That’s the ‘djinn’ here. There’s nothing supernatural involved.

It does feel like one of those commercial attempts from you as a filmmaker?

Djinn is a bit more colourful than my usual films. It’s made on a bigger canvas and probably the biggest that I have done.


Be it your latest film Chathuram or Djinn, in terms of casting, you have always been more interested in choosing performers than stars to lead your movies.

I think that’s what matters in the end. We already have the story in hand; we need to present it to the audience as a well-performed, shot and edited film, with good music. That’s when the story becomes a complete package that the audience can enjoy for two hours in a theatre. So, good performers are key when doing any film.

The reason my search for Djinn’s protagonist ended in Soubin was that the film’s scriptwriter Rajesh Gopinadhan had suggested his name. I already had a one-liner and Rajesh agreed to work on that. During the scripting is when we found out about another character, someone who was believed to have been ‘possessed by a djinn’. So, we did some background search and it turned out to be interesting. So, to play a character, we needed a performer who wasn’t overexposed and hasn’t tried such a role before. That’s how Rajesh suggested Soubin’s name. He had already worked with him in Kali and I had directed him in Chandrettan Evideya. So, we knew his potential as an actor and what he could do.

It’s a film that began in 2019 and it has taken almost three years to hit theatres. Was the delay frustrating?

That frustration has no limits. That’s how it has been and will be for every filmmaker. A lot of things have happened in each of our lives since we started shooting in 2019 including the pandemic and my mother’s (KPAC Lalitha) death. But what matters is that the project is still appealing to our team. I believe none of us are jaded.

Is it also your mother’s last theatrical release?

I actually don’t think so. She had acted in a few more films after the lockdown. Bheeshmaparvam was among them. I think there is another movie. Otherwise, Djinn will be her final movie. If that’s the case, then it’s an unfortunate coincidence.

Djinn also has a host of supporting characters including Shine Tom Chacko and Sharafudheen, whom you had not worked with your earlier films but are now among the mainstay when it comes to playing character roles. How much do they elevate the film?

More than driving the story, I think they make it more convincing. I have always believed that it’s the screenplay that drives the story. Supporting actors, through their expressions and body language, make it more believable. This was how my mother used to do and even today’s character actors; their greatest strength is they know how to convincingly portray the roles they are given.