Rajeev Ravi’s untitled film that is being shot in Thiruvananthapuram stars debutants Farhaan Faasil and Aahana Krishnakumar. It is Collective Phase One’s first film in Malayalam.
The leafy and dappled paths in University College have witnessed the blossoming and breaking up of many a romance. Another one is budding on a quiet Thursday on the campus. A tall, lanky youngster with a head full of curly hair and a tuft of hair on his chin is deep in conversation with a pretty doe-eyed girl. Oblivious to the nattily dressed youngsters and pretty much everything else in the surrounding, they have eyes only for each other as they talk, laugh and argue while ambling from one building to the other. As they saunter towards the majestic building housing the Department of Politics, Rajeev Ravi says: “Cut”. He checks the frame and changes his mind. The two go through their paces a couple of times before the scene is canned.
The lead pair of Farhaan Faasil and Aahana Krishnakumar blend in so well with their surroundings that it is difficult to spot them. After winding up the shot for the day, Rajeev agrees to say a few lines about the film, “It is about a youngster called Steve Lopez. It is about his life in these days.” He clams up with a smile and insists that he does not want to say anything more about the film. Then he relents and adds: “The scene we shot now shows a romance between Steve and Anjali. Steve is the offspring of a police officer and so is Anjali. Their parents stay in the housing colony for police officers. This romance is not the story. It is just an incident in Steve’s life.”
Farhaan/Steve is all smiles when he is asked about his experience on the sets. He says there were many scripts that he read but he felt that many were offered to him because he was Fahadh Faasil’s younger brother and not because they wanted Farhan to act in it.
So what did big brother Fahadh think about this? “He told me to just go ahead and do it because it was Rajeev ettan’s picture,” says Farhaan. A former student of Anupam Kher’s acting institute, Farhaan says while he did benefit from the course, nothing can really beat the real feel of a set and the camera. He plans to complete the film and only then even think about the next one.
“This is a learning space for him and he can make the most of it,” chips in Rajeev, apparently happy with his actor.
In the meantime, Steve’s girlfriend Anjali make a pretty picture as she waits to speak to Rajeev about the next day’s shoot. Anjali is played by debutant actress Aahana, eldest daughter of actor Krishnakumar. A student of visual communications in Chennai, she hopes to make her mark behind the camera some day. Aahana too agreed to step in front of the camera because it was Rajeev’s film. Though she has been on umpteen sets courtesy her father and is comfortable in front of the camera as a result of her modelling for select boutiques, she says acting for the camera is a different game altogether. On the second day of her avatar as an actress, Aahana looks quite comfortable and she is all thanks to her co-stars and senior technicians for making her feel at home.
Steve’s dad enjoys the action with a quiet smile. He is enacted by veteran theatre actor Alencier. “I am Dy. Sp. George Lopez. Incidentally, Farhaan’s character’s name is the name of my son,” says the actor who is much in demand in cinema these days. Many scenes in the film have been shot at Punthenthope, a scenic coastal village in Thiruvananthapuram, Alencier’s home town.
Rajeev has also roped in many non-actors and theatre activists from Abhinaya. He says he enjoys working with them as they are not emoting from a template of expressions. “I like the spontaneity,” he explains.
The dialogues for Rajeev’s story have been written by Santhosh Echikkanam, who had also scripted Annayum Rasoolum. Sync sound is by S. Radhakrishnan while the camera is cranked by Pappu. Kunal Sharma, Anurag Kashyap’s sound designer, will design the soundscape for this film.
Collective is the operative word in this film; the songs are written by Anwar Ali while the music is being scored by Thaikkudam Bridge, Shahabaz Aman and K, among others.
Ace cinematographer Madhu Neelakandan and award-wining editor B. Ajith Kumar are also on the sets, as they are part of Collective Phase One, a producers’ collective.
This film is the Collective’s first venture in Malayalam after ID, their first feature film that was made in Hindi by Kamal K.M. The Collective includes top-notch professionals in cinema such as cinematographers Madhu and Rajeev, production designer Sunil Babu, editor Ajith, sound designer Resul Pookutty, and so on.
“We are certainly aiming at a theatrical release. Our aim is to develop a different kind of distribution network that promotes good cinema. We also hope to make the dream projects that many of us have been nursing for some time. Madhu and Ajith are likely to turn directors this year,” says Rajeev.
Indeed, a new direction for Malayalam cinema.