The ongoing pandemic has more or less negatively affected almost everyone working in the film industry. But if there’s anyone who seemed to have understood the need of the hour and reacted positively to the situation, it has to be actors Fahadh Faasil and Suriya. Not only did they have a release in 2020 — at the peak of the pandemic — but they also moved effectively onto the OTT space with multiple releases slotted for the coming months. Fahadh, for instance, has already had four OTT releases (Joji, C U Soon, Malik and Irul) making him the first legit OTT superstar. Even Suriya, with his decision to release Soorarai Pottru on Amazon Prime Video in the face of tough opposition from exhibitors, changed how people looked at the theatrical release model and it was an all-India success story. And with his recent announcement to release four of his productions back-to-back in the coming months, Suriya too seems to have figured out the OTT space before most of his colleagues could.
But if these were the actors to get there first, then credit must also go to Mahesh Narayanan who not only saw the potential but was also smart enough to think up and direct a film like C U Soon within the ultra-strict restrictions of the lockdown. In terms of feature films, two of his films (C U Soon and Malik) released in the last two years to both great word-of-mouth and acclaim. What Fahadh seems to have achieved as an actor, Mahesh seems to have done as a director (he also edited Aarkkariyam). And with his Covid-era success, that Mahesh was being coveted by several major production houses across the country was also in the news.
Just a week ago, it was major news when it was announced that Mahesh would direct Kamal Haasan. As an editor, Mahesh had worked on both Vishwaroopam and its sequel to become an insider in the legendary actor-director’s inner circle. In what’s said to be Kamal Haasan’s next film after Vikram (which he is currently shooting with Fahadh Faasil), the new film could be the sequel to Thevar Magan titled Thalaivan Irukkindran, written by the actor himself.
Which is why it is such big news that Mahesh will also be directing his first direct Hindi film, titled Phantom Hospital, although he had edited the Hindi version of Traffic and 2008’s Phir Kabhi. According to reports, Mahesh had already received several requests to remake one of his Malayalam hits into Tamil and Hindi but preferred to work on an original.
Phantom Hospital is said to be based on an “unusual scandal in the healthcare sector”. The screenplay is by Akash Mohimen and Mahesh Narayanan and the project is in collaboration with investigative journalist Josy Joseph. The report also adds that the film is a genre-bender. The producer, Priti Sahani, is known for producing films like Talvar, Raazi and Badhaai Ho.
Mahesh himself had worked on a healthcare thriller like Traffic which was about transporting a beating heart from one place to another. In the release, he goes on to add, “I was instantly drawn to the story inspired from true incidents in the healthcare sector of India. My films have received so much love from the Hindi audiences that I am truly looking forward to directing my first Hindi feature.”
Given that Kamal Haasan is shooting for Vikram, Phantom Hospital could be Mahesh Narayanan’s next release. Among Malayali directors, only Priyadarshan and Siddique (Bodyguard) have garnered wide recognition when they transitioned to the Hindi movie industry.