I am not the hero in 'Malayankunju': Interview with Fahadh Faasil

Fahadh Faasil
Fahadh Faasil in the movie 'Malayankunju' (screen grab).

In a world where actors are dying to gain superstardom, Fahadh Faasil is determined to walk the path less trodden. He believes in stubbornly doing things his way. Fahadh Faasil gets candid about the journey that led to 'Malayankunju'…

What is 'Malayankunju'?

'Malayankunju' was started as an OTT film during the lockdown. This will be one hell of a film. While the first half is ordinary, the second half is mostly happening 40 feet below ground level. A voice that was grating initially soon turns into a voice of hope towards the later part of the film. If you look at my successful films, they always went from bad to good. And the characters would travel to many places to reach that point. 'Malayankunju' is that kind of journey. But the only difference is that it is happening below ground level.

Why did you decide to release the film in theatres?

After I saw the film, I felt this was a film that deserved a theatre experience. Usually, films are popularised through their stars, but people will start talking about its sound design, cinematography, art and music after watching 'Malayankunju'. I will only come much later. My father produced this film. Left to me I would have perhaps released the first half on OTT and the second half in theatres.

This is a story that requires an actor and not a star. What fascinated you about this film?

Two disasters resulted in this film. The plane crash at Karipoor and the landslide at Pettimudi. At Pettimudi it is said that a dog was following the cops in search of his family. Finally, the cops took the dog. This is about a man who was trapped. Such a situation doesn’t require a star.

Looks like you are focusing more on production these days

We restarted this film after stalling the shoot for 8 months. A producer might not be able to handle it. So if I am the producer it gives me more freedom and flexibility. I am not answerable to anyone. I am beginning to enjoy that freedom. 'Malayankunju' was shot for 100 days. Other actors had only 40 days of shoot. I was the one who shot for 60 days. It is only because my father was the producer that I could do it according to my pace and time.

The success of 'Vikram' and 'Pushpa' seems to have definitely elevated your position. Haven’t you felt so?

Commercially maybe. But not as an actor. I have only done what I have done here. I haven’t really formed a separate acting style for the Telugu or Tamil films. So many of my friends are there in these projects. That’s why I acted in it. And it was always an honour to work with such talented people.

You have said that 'Malayankunju' was strenuous work…

Yes, even its sets are different. If I used to work 8 hours for a shoot, in this film I worked for 4 hours. I had to literally crawl my way to enter the sets. In fact, all the people who worked on the film had to crawl inside the sets. It was difficult to take rest in between. Most of them worked with minimal lights. What Mahesh Narayanan spoke about the rescue operations at Pettimudi was gradually turned into this film.

About 'Pachu and Albudha Vilakku'

Akhil Sathyan, who is a friend had casually told me the story of this film. Maybe he saw the enthusiasm on my face and asked me if I was interested in doing the film. So this film is also something that grew organically through such conversations. I prefer working in such films where the stories evolve organically, with my participation. That’s why I love 'Malayankunju'. 

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