The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown have inspired filmmakers the world over. Joining the list of movies is Njaan Ippo Entha Cheyya (What Will I do Now?), a Malayalam film directed by debutant Vijay Menon that releases on Saina Play on July 28.
The film, “a dark comedy”, is about two youngsters, Dhivya and Arjun, stuck at home during the lockdown. “The narrative is about urban angst and how Gen Z reacts to different challenges. These two are thrown into certain situations, with one thing leading to the other. Eventually, a murder happens and they have to deal with it. The movie explores how the young generation handle stress and anxiety,” says Vijay.
Chennai-based Vijay is the son of late director, producer and writer, P Venu, whose filmography includes notable Malayalam movies such as Udyogastha (1967), Viruthan Shanku (1968), CID Nazir (1971), and Prethangalude Thazhvara (1973), among others. “I grew up watching my father’s films and hoped to make movies one day. I was in the advertising industry for many years and in 2013 I decided to write and make films as well,” says Vijay, who also runs an advertisement agency in Chennai.
He adds that it was the lockdown that set things rolling. In 2020, he made a short film-cum-musical, Intezaar After that, he started working on the script of Njaan Ippo..., originally planned as a short film. “Once the script went through various changes, I decided to make it into a feature. However, it was difficult to bankroll the project as is the case with any debut director. Eventually, I managed to get on board a group of people. There are 10 producers associated with it,” he says. The film, scripted by Smriti Amarendran, has been shot in Chennai over a period of two weeks.
Deepa Thomas, familiar to the audience through her roles in the productions of Karikku, popular Malayalam digital platform, and in movies such as Mohan Kumar Fans, Home and Sulaikha Manzil, plays Dhivya. New face Abhimanyu Gautham plays Arjun; Abhimanyu is the grandson of VV Babu, who produced the cult Malayalam movie, Thakara, directed by Bharathan and written by P Padmarajan.
At a time when several directors prefer to release their films in theatres, Vijay mentions that he had no such plan. “It is an indie film and I knew that it can’t bring people to theatres. At the same time, it was not easy to pitch it to OTT platforms because the movie is not headlined by big stars,” he says.
Vijay adds that he was worried if he would be able to release it at all. “I remember what my father used to say. That you are called a filmmaker only if the film comes on screen and not when it remains in the can.”