OTTplay Logo
settings icon
profile icon

Ranjith Sankar: Would have made Jai Ganesh even if I’d seen Maaveeran before shooting the film | Exclusive

Jai Ganesh director Ranjith Sankar talks about the Unni Mukundan-starrer, addresses the comparisons to Maaveeran and why he decided to take up the challenge

Ranjith Sankar: Would have made Jai Ganesh even if I’d seen Maaveeran before shooting the film | Exclusive
Unni Mukundan in a still from Jai Ganesh and (R) Ranjith Sankar

Last Updated: 02.08 PM, Apr 08, 2024


For those who have followed director Ranjith Sankar’s filmography, the trailer of his latest movie Jai Ganesh, which has Unni Mukundan and Mahima Nambiar in the lead, offered a lot of reasons to rejoice. Primarily, because it once again has the filmmaker returning to a genre that he helped redefine with movies such as Passenger and Arjunan Sakshi more than a decade ago.

In a candid interview with OTTplay, Ranjith opens up about what prompted him to work on Jai Ganesh – an idea that he had conceived way back in 2010, the comparisons with Sivakarthikeyan’s Maaveeran and choosing a release date that sets up a clash with Varshangalkku Shesham and Aavesham.


From the teaser of Jai Ganesh, it almost felt like it's an extension of your first two movies – Passenger and Arjunan Sakshi – in terms of the world and characters.

I think so, there is a chance. But there’s no point when we make a movie and say that it’s like this or that. In terms of genre, there are similarities.

Both those films spurred a lot of changes in the industry, even though Traffic has been credited for starting the new wave of Malayalam cinema a decade ago.

I actually disagree. I don’t think it’s even Traffic. I believe every year there was something new; for instance, Ishtam was kind of a new-gen film. But then after Traffic, there was a flow to it; there were a lot of other such movies and that’s why it’s considered as the beginning of a new wave.

Unni Mukundan and Ranjith Sankar
Unni Mukundan and Ranjith Sankar

Post those movies, you had gravitated towards movies that worked more as relationship dramas like Ramante Edenthottam, Varsham, 4 Years and even Sunny, which was more about introspection. What prompted you to go back to the thriller genre?

I wanted to make a film that could work well in theatres, commercially. That was the challenge I took up while doing this film. Many of the movies I had made before, for instance, Su.. Su.. Sudhi Vathmeekam or Ramante Edenthottam, I doubt whether they would work anymore because they have more or less become OTT films. If people have to go to theatres now, they need an experience. So, I threw myself a challenge, if I could make a commercial film and the search then was to find a suitable script for that. That’s how I landed on Jai Ganesh.

It’s again got an underdog, someone who is vulnerable and a common man at the centre of the story, trying to effect a bigger change in the society he lives in. Is that an organic way to connect to the people?

I think it’s basically in me. These elements are present in this film and it’s not something that I have consciously included. Even Punyalan Agarbattis had it. I thought it would be present in Pretham, but a lot of the audience felt that too, with the elements of ragging and HIV, had those. Maybe it’s just in me, while I write a script.

Right after the trailer was released, there were comparisons to Sivakarthikeyan’s Maaveeran, which is about a comic book artist gaining superpowers. What is your response to those comparisons?

I saw Maaveeran after the shoot of Jai Ganesh, and I would have made the same film even if I had seen it earlier. That’s the similarity.

But is it a superhero film?

If people think that the hero is strapped to a wheelchair and starts walking once he gets his power, then it’s not. It defines and redefines who is a superhero. Maybe that’s what the film is about. It does have a few elements is all I can say.

In the film, the protagonist is a comic book artist who is also creating a story. So, there’s that element of a story within a story panning out. Now, when it’s easier for a lot of the audience to lose interest in a narrative quickly, do multiple threads help you to keep them hooked?

Actually, Jai Ganesh has a simple story even though the narrative is a bit complex. It’s complex because of the protagonist. He’s wheelchair-bound and so his activities are limited. The only thing you can make with such a character is a movie like Beautiful. But this film has the character doing a lot of things that even normal people don’t. It’s not like he’s an acrobat or has a special talent, but he does those things because of his passion, drive and purpose. For instance, if today I would find a new purpose, I would do anything to achieve that. In this case, if both the story and narrative are complex, then it will become hard for the audience to understand.

Unni Mukundan in a still from Jai Ganesh
Unni Mukundan in a still from Jai Ganesh

It must have helped having an actor like Unni Mukundan, who has a muscular physique, playing a character who is constrained. There’s that inherent restraint, which lets the character as well as the viewer an outlet through his mind.

I actually had this story from 2010 and back then the person was not in wheelcair. I thought about different ways I could approach the character; I knew it was a commercial subject and would work. But at one point I thought I would never make it because I wasn’t motivated enough. When I put the character in a wheelchair, I got it. It became a new challenge. When you think about it, you get scared and fear is something that pushes me to make a film. Else, I would just get bored.

I don’t get excited to make a film unless there’s a challenge. For Sunny, the task for me was that it wasn’t a thriller. I haven’t seen a single-actor feel-good movie. Even in 4 Years, though there were similar films like Before Sunrise, to make a movie with just two protagonists who are creatively younger, was a challenge. In Jai Ganesh, I wanted to know if I could pull off a proper commercial film with a person in a wheelchair. And that was what was exciting for me.

The film has a release date, April 11, that sets up a clash with two other big films – Varshangalkku Shesham and Aavesham, which stars Fahadh Faasil. It almost feels like Jai Ganesh is the underdog, and you would think usually people would defer the release by a week.

I actually don’t look at it like that. I began shooting this film in November and I believe that it is a movie that can be enjoyed by families. So, I thought this would be a good release date. You cannot plan a release date, thinking about what other movies would hit theatres on the same day. If you change the date, fearing that a movie would also release around the same time, it might not happen. When I first planned it, there was also Aadujeevitham, which actually changed its release date. I believe every film has a fate and it’s written the moment I decide to write the story. My job is to just travel with it.

Get the latest updates in your inbox