Fahadh Faasil's Malayankunju is a survival drama that depicts the struggles of Anikkuttan, an ill-tempered man who gets caught in a landslide. The film, which released in theatres in July, traces Anikkutan's race against the clock to save his life and Ponni, a baby girl. In an interesting conversation with Vishal Menon, Fahadh Faasil breaks down the challenges in shooting for the film.
For a 30-40 minute stretch in the film, Anikkuttan is stuck under the debris of a landslide. These scenes were shot over the course of 20-30 days. Talking about the difficulties, the actor says "Malayankunju is just one of the difficult films I have done. I've been through much more strainful shoots earlier in films like Iyobinte Pusthakam or Varathan. For instance, in Varathan, the fight sequence was scheduled for 31 days. The fight happened overnight in the rain and there was a particular scene that Amal Neerad (the film's director) wanted to shoot between 4 am and 7 am. We ended up shooting that sequence for up to 3 weeks or something. I don't share or discuss how difficult it is to capture such scenes because it's difficult for everyone, not just the actor. It is difficult for the DOP, the art director, and the set guys. I've never discussed it. It's all part of what I do. I get paid for that."
Fahadh says that the challenging part about shooting a long stretch is maintaining emotional continuity. "I want to pick up (a scene) from where I left off yesterday. Most of the time, that's not possible for me. The challenge is always to keep the emotional continuity consistent. That is quite a stressful process. To have that continuity consistently for 30 days is mentally and physically stressful," says Fahadh.
He further adds that with long shoots, it's important to make sure that people do not get bored. "When you shoot for too long, the sets start getting tired. There was a time I would come to the set and the chief light guy would ask me, at least today will you save the baby? I would be like 'I'm just getting there'. And it's a collaborative effort. The advantage of this film is that we couldn't shoot for more than three hours in a single stretch. Because everyone would fall (on set). So, we shot for 3-4 hours a day and we made sure everyone was safe and no one was exhausted. Most importantly, we had to make sure that people weren't bored. If I get bored that's it. If Mahesh Narayanan (writer and cinematographer of the film) gets bored, that's it. It's important that all of us remain excited about what we are doing," says the actor.
When asked about how he manages to keep himself excited every day amidst a long shoot, Fahadh says, "The boredom will often be visible in the way I perform, and the way we shoot. So when that happens, we immediately try to shoot something new, something fresh. I think this is something that happens all the time during the process of filming. So, the only way is to hit it out of the park and fight that. Sometimes we also try performing the same scene in a different way or try shooting it in a different way."
Malayankunju will be available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video from August 11.