Malayalam film industry splutters into action with the announcement of four films by young Turks

Mahesh Narayanan

Mahesh Narayanan   | Photo Credit: S Gopakumar

June 22 brought tidings of joy to the COVID-19-hit film industry in Kerala. Instead of waiting for removal of all curbs on shootings or reopening of theatres, a clutch of filmmakers decided to begin work on four exciting projects.

While Unda director Khalid Rahman started working on his third film, which is yet to be named, in Kochi on Tuesday, Mahesh Narayanan’s film, See You Soon, starring Fahadh Faasil, also began rolling.

Lijo Jose Pellissery

Lijo Jose Pellissery   | Photo Credit: H Vibhu

Lijo Jose Pellissery’s new film, A, will go on the floors on July 1 and Hagar, directed by Harshad, the scriptwriter of Unda, on July 5. The big-budget period film Vaariyamkunnan, with Prithviraj Sukumaran in the lead, is slated to begin shooting in September 2021.

Although Mahesh is tight-lipped about the entire project and keeps insisting that it is too early to talk about it, sources says the film is being shot in Fahadh’s flat with the help of mobile phones. The experimental nature of the film and its cast and crew have created a lot of buzz around the project even though Mahesh reiterates: “I don’t know if it could even be called a film.”

Khalid Rahman

Khalid Rahman   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

B Unnikrishnan, general secretary of the Film Employees Federation Of Kerala (FEFKA), says that such experimental films should be welcomed as it explores new possibilities in the post-COVID-19 scenario. “Our technicians are going through a difficult phase and so when a producer is willing to engage them, it is a welcome sign of the industry trying to kick-start itself. We are in talks with all concerned and will continue to keep assessing the situation to see how we can help the industry at such a crucial time,” he says.

Although there are rumblings of discontent from the Kerala Film Producers’ Association, the filmmakers feel that waiting any longer would be suicidal for the film industry as several technicians and those working with the industry at different levels have been badly hit by the lockdown.

Rima Kallingal, who is acting and co-producing Hagar along with Aashiq Abu under their production banner, says that the idea was to shoot another movie in the first week of April. However, that did not take off because of the lockdown. “Moreover, that film required technicians from Chennai and since that seems difficult now, we thought we would wait and see how things would go. But now, we think it is time to get going to do whatever we can with whatever we have. For too long, we have been waiting without any work,” she says.

Rima Kallingal

Rima Kallingal   | Photo Credit: S Gopakumar

The work on the films will be done in compliance with government stipulations that make it mandatory for all shooting to be done indoors with minimal crew.

Khalid film’s starring Shine Tom Chacko, Rajisha Vijayan, Veena Nandakumar, Sudhi Koppa, Gokulan and Johny Antony, is being shot indoors with a small crew. The first new film to be shot in Malayalam after the lockdown, it is being produced under the banner of Ashiq Usman Productions.

Morale booster

Rima feels that it is imperative that work begins even within the framework decided by the government as it will be a morale booster for hundreds of people associated with the film industry, where there are many daily wage earners in addition to employees on contracts. “There are several challenges. We have to shoot indoors with a small crew, need a storyline with a small cast and shots that won’t need crowds and so on. Keeping all this in mind, we have been discussing how we could proceed for some time now. Hagar is particularly well-placed for the existing situation. It is a story about a woman in search of her husband and, in a way, justice. It is her journey. It is in line with a lot of things that is happening now,” says Rima. She and Sharafudheen play the lead roles in the film.

“There is no stopping cinema. Art has to happen, isn’t it?” muses Rima.

Fahadh Faasil

Fahadh Faasil   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

While speculation is rife about the opening of theatres, Rima says that they are all making films with the hope that it will be released in theatres. But for Mahesh’s film, which is reportedly earmarked for a major OTT platform, all the other directors are keeping their fingers crossed for theatrical releases.

“But, can the film industry afford to wait till all that is resolved? I feel we have to begin work and watch how the situation is,” she adds.

In fact, Lijo said everything he had to say in a post on Facebook: “‘I plan to make a cinema. Who will stop me!”’

Time for action!

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2020 6:32:46 PM |

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