Actor Fahadh Faasil talks about making a comeback to filmdom
Celebrity kid or not, rarely does Malayalam cinema give an up-and-coming actor a chance for a comeback, especially if your debut was less than lacklustre. But young actor Fahadh Faasil is proving to be an exception to that rule. After the debacle that was his debut – Kaiyethum Doorathu (2002), veteran director Fazil's son has gone and re-invented himself and his career with some fine performances in some interesting movies over the past couple of years. And that's including a suave act in his latest film Chappa Kurishu.
“It's the failure of my debut film which made me an actor, which made me want to succeed in the industry,” says Fahadh, candidly. “But that doesn't mean I regret whatever choices I've made over the years. No, not even Kaiyethum Doorathu!” adds the jovial 29-year-old. Post his debut, Fahadh took off to the United States to study philosophy and screenwriting at the University of Miami, where he lived and worked for the next five years.
It was director Ranjith who set Fahadh on his comeback trail. At Ranjith's behest, director Uday Ananthan cast the actor in his Mrithyunjayam, one of the 10 shorts in Ranjith's Portmanteau film Kerala Cafe (2008). Although Fahadh's role was brief, it was significant enough to make the industry sit up and notice the new Fahadh – an almost unrecognisable version of his old self, what with his dapper physique, receding hairline and sans the thick mush! “After seeing Mrithyunjayam, Ranjith ettan told me to stop thinking about becoming a scriptwriter and instead concentrate on acting for he assured me I would get more roles,” says Fahadh.
As it turns out, Ranjith was right. Fahadh soon landed plum roles in B. Unnikrishnan's Pramani, Lal's youthful sports flick Tournament, and Arun Kumar's dark thriller Cocktail. And, of course, cinematographer-turned-director Samir Tahir's Chappa Kurishu, in which the actor dons the role of a slick, sophisticated, ladies' man called Arjun. “Samir gave me the freedom to rework Arjun into someone that the audience could eventually empathise with despite his many faults. I endeavoured to keep it real and it gives me a lot pleasure when people tell me that they know men like him,” says the actor.
However, the “turning point” in his career, his career defining role, says the actor, is his lead role in debutant director Shalini Usha Nair's yet-to-be-released film Akam. This offbeat film is a modern take on Malayattoor Ramakrishnan's novel Yakshi and is one of the few Malayalam films to have been shot in sync sound. Fahadh plays an architect named Srinivas who suspects his wife of being a vampire.
“Playing Srinivas was like re-inventing myself. We had a workshop before shooting began and I had ample opportunity to explore the nuances of the character. In the process of re-inventing Srinivas, I re-invented myself,” says Fahadh, who adds that he is essentially a director's actor, through and through.
“I trust my directors to see me through for I don't consider myself as a natural actor or a good one at that. I believe that anyone with a bit of guidance can act. In fact, I told both Shalini and Samir that I only know how to emote six reactions. They in turn were very clear about what I shouldn't be doing in front of the camera!” says the actor with a self-deprecating laugh.
And being Fazil's son does not make the job any easier, he says.
“The only thing my famous last name got me was a foothold in the industry. That was the easy part. The biggest problem is survival. As Fazil's son I am expected to know everything – acting, dancing, horse riding... I am not trained in all these and I don't think I ever will be. I have never knowingly exploited my last name or made use of it either,” muses Fahadh. “I dream of the day when director Fazil will be known as actor Fahadh's father!” he chuckles.
Next up for the actor is yet another plum role in Arun Kumar's new flick Ee Adutha Kaalath..., which goes on the floor in September.
It looks like Fahadh's season in the sun is set to continue.