Fahadh Faasil on shooting C U Soon during the lockdown: 'It pushed me to get back to work'
For some years now, audiences across the country, and not just the South, have been waiting to see what Fahadh Faasil will do next. His upcoming film, C U Soon, premieres on Amazon Prime Video on 1 September.
Anjali Menon’s Bangalore Days possibly introduced Fahadh Faasil to a non-Malayalam-speaking audience; his Das was full of intrigue, his Shiva was the charmer. His earnest innocence in Maheshinte Prathikaaram, kind-hearted craftiness of Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, honest-to-goodness transformation in Njan Prakashan, creepiness in Kumbalangi Nights, everydayness in Super Deluxe and the definition-defying magnum opus called Trance fed that new-found audience, one that also went back and traced some old gems such as 22 Female Kottayam, Annayum Rasoolum and North 24 Kaatham. Malik, his much-awaited film with Mahesh Narayanan (Take Off) is one of the biggies that has suffered a delay due to the Covid 19 lockdown.
In between all this comes C U Soon, which promises to be a love story that turns into a thriller. It's a 90 minute thriller, shot in 18 days flat. Fahadh teams up with Mahesh again for this film, which was shot well into the lockdown, following government-prescribed norms. The entire film plays out on multiple screens, from the phone to a laptop, similar to Aneesh Chaganty's The Searching. The film, which sees a direct release on Amazon Prime Video on 1 September, stars Roshan Mathew and Darshana Rajendran.
Excerpts from an interview:
How did someone like you, who’s been working near-continuously and intensely at that, handle this period of no shooting? Across the board, artistes have tried different things to cope, but what will a movie actor do when there is no shooting?
I am basically a very lazy person, I like to sit idle. I like to have my time, and I really enjoyed the early days of lockdown. I was home after a long time, we (Faasil and his wife Nazriya Nazim) were getting time together. You need to be excited about an idea, about what you want to tell. C U Soon happened at such a time. More than the technology, I was excited about the idea. That got me excited and pushed me to get back to work.
What about CU Soon impressed you? The technology, the technique or the story by itself?
I think story, technology and technical strength. In fact, I remain a student of cinema. I don’t know if what we did is the right way to do it. This is our understanding of it. Someone else could get inspired to do better; that was in fact the entire idea of this film. There’s no hard and fast rule, after all, we care about capturing emotions.
In an interview, Mahesh Narayanan said that you were concerned about the blow to livelihoods due to no shooting. Was this film also a way to keep the film economy chugging?
Very much, I think it got people on their feet. Other than the director and actors, a film has 22 different crafts to it. At one time, we had 100 people working on the entire film. The sound post was done by designer Kunal Rajan in the US. The sound was done by sound designer Vishnu Govind. It was basically to get people engaged, and get back to pitching ideas. We just wanted that interaction in our creative space. When the lockdown began, we did not have any idea how long this will go on, we still don’t know that.. but.. life has to go on.
You are said to forge strong bonds with those you work with. And, ‘team’ for you is everyone involved, not just those who front the film? Where does this sense of justice come from?
I’ve tried explaining this before, but let me attempt again. For me, primarily, no one is above anyone on the sets. We are talking about capturing human emotions and they need to be respected. Everyone is involved in cinema, even the person who wakes me up and gives me my morning tea. Every fraction of your life, every second is important to capture emotions. That’s what I have seen on my father’s sets and what I’ve observed and been taught.
The closing scene in the C U Soon trailer, your eyes and the single tear… There’s Fahadh, the star performer, and there are his eyes that have taken on an identity of their own. Did you ever think reams would be written about them? Does it embarrass you at times? What do you think of your eyes?
I have my mother’s eyes. When people tell me this, it reminds me of my mother, and that makes me happy. She is more beautiful than I am, more graceful than I can be; at least I have her eyes. I think people started noticing my eyes in high school (laughs). Personally, I am grateful for this kind of love, but I don’t think my eyes deserve so much attention; it was given to me; I did not earn it.
Usually, collaborations in performance require people to be in one physical space. How was it to occupy different screens? Did you have to rework your process?
For me working with my co-actors is very important. No actor can do anything alone. As for C U Soon, we all moved to the same building. Initially, we started shooting with individual actors. That did not work. We then practised sitting around the table and conversing. We tried different methods, we got an actor read out the portions standing behind the camera, we recorded another person and played it on the monitor so there would be a direct connect. There were a lot of methods we tried.
Was this process very interesting?
It was difficult, it was interesting.
But you prefer difficult to something very easy?
I prefer joy to anything, I want to be happy.
Are you ever afraid that directors will stop pushing you to give your best? That they will accept your performances that border on greatness and not push you to do better?
I don’t think so. I am very clear about my career. I should know before anyone else If I am out to be of the business. As long as I am doing this, I want to do it the way I am doing it. The moment I cannot do it this way, I guess I will start doing something else. When I work with a director, it means that we are challenging each other; it is sportive, but we do challenge each other. Everyone is at their best. You want to give it your best too. You want to grow, that’s the word. Grow.
And you want to work with those who will help you in this? Is C U Soon also a part of this effort?
Yes, everything I have attempted so far and what I will attempt henceforth, the idea will always be to go a little ahead of what I did previously.
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