Top Malayalam actor Fahadh Faasil, who’s known for his evocative eyes and crazy creative gambles that mostly strike gold, hates to get complicated. The mantra behind his success in South Indian cinema is simple.
“Get the best guys in the business. Get the best director, get the best DOP [Director of Photography], get the best musician, get the best writer … I cannot do any of these things alone. I am just fortunate that I always get to choose a very beautiful team,” Faasil said in an interview over Zoom.
His new film ‘Malik’, which premieres on Amazon Prime Video on July 15, is a testament to this diktat. It’s written and directed by his all-time favourite filmmaker Mahesh Narayanan.
“I go to him … He doesn’t have to come to me. And, I try not to repeat myself as an actor … I don’t know if two years late if people will fancy the kind of films that I do, but I make sure that I do films whose idea that I am excited about. I only do films that I believe in,” said Faasil.
Here are 10 things to know about Faasil’s Eid release ‘Malik’:
1. This Malayalam-language film is Faasil’s most ambitious project in his prolific career. In a Zoom interview with Gulf News, the actor — who excels in twisted roles and is also an ace at playing an ordinary bloke — claimed that his titular role pushed him as an actor.
“This film is something that we have never done before in terms of the narrative and our performances. I have never played different ages in the same film,” said Faasil.
2. Directed and written by Mahesh Narayanan, ‘Malik’ spells the return of this winning pair. Faasil and Narayanan have worked together in blockbusters including human-trafficking tale ‘C U soon’, thriller ‘Take Off’, and acid attack survivor film ‘Uyare’. They have immense respect for each other’s craft and skills. The idea of ‘Malik’ was pitched to Faasil when they were working together in ‘Take Off’ in 2016. But at that point, pulling off this film in terms of budget and scale was a daunting prospect.
“Usually, my films are based on characters … But this was a complete geographical experience for me … It spanned several decades and your needs for your crew were vastly different,” said Narayanan.
3. Faasil, who plays Sulaiman Malik in this film, believes the film may be larger-than-life, but the characters are very relatable.
“In my eyes, playing Malik was like being a part of any other film, but in terms of budget and bringing this project together, it was a very difficult task. We spent over a year just capturing this film,” said Faasil.
4. The film chronicles the eventful life and times of Sulaiman Malik, a self-made man from a coastal fishing village who becomes one of the most influential leaders for the people in his minority town.
“The narrative itself is very challenging because we are trying to fit 30 years of his life in two and a half hours. Mahesh had discussed this project six years ago with me and he came to me again with this project two years ago. Back then, I was excited about the film itself and not just my character … But six years ago, we couldn’t bring it to life. Honestly, I just wanted this film to be made and I wanted to be a part of this journey. I want to come out with a good film and not just a good character,” said Faasil.
5. Playing different age groups to depict a character’s growth in the same film was the most challenging aspect of ‘Malik’, said Faasil.
“To look different at various stages of Malik was the most challenging thing that I have come across in my career. Usually, I internalise things as an actor. I don’t visibly want to make a difference or change my look overtly to prove it! So I had to unlearn a lot of things as an actor. This is something new that I have never tried,” said Faasil.
6. ‘Malik’ also boasts some of Malayalam cinema’s most formidable talents including actress Nimisha Sajayan as Malik’s wife, actor Joju George as a police officer, and Vinay Forrt. Director Narayanan wanted it that way; he was keen to make ‘Malik’ an ensemble piece rather than focus on Faasil’s title role alone.
“‘Malik’ is not about a particular individual. It’s about a whole community and therefore it was challenging to write this film because we have a lot of characters in this film. At no point did I want the viewers to think: ‘why is this particular character in this film?’ I have written the film in such a way that every character is equally important and that’s why it took a lot of time to write it,” said Narayanan.
7. ‘Malik’ deals with a Muslim leader who becomes a beacon of hope for his community. But there’s always the danger of political thrillers becoming agenda-driven, token films about minorities in India. However, the director of ‘Malik’ isn’t worried about falling into that trap.
“I have not written this film with a biased perspective, I have taken perspectives from all the angles — from his community’s side, the State’s side, and all those people representing different groups. There’s a clear and authentic representation,” said Narayanan.
8. While the director is confident that his new film isn’t overtly manipulative, actor Faasil has a different take.
“I don’t look at it like that [of films being agenda-driven or not]. I am only responsible for entertaining my audience. I don’t pressurise myself thinking about how I might end up being portrayed. I don’t think about bolstering any particular cause for a film. My job is to ensure that the story and the film are believable. I stay out of the rest,” said Faasil.
9 ‘Malik’ was always meant to be a theatrical release in Kerala and the rest of the world. But Faasil and Narayanan had to finally take a call on its release because their film was ready and lying in the freezer for far too long.
10. Faasil, who enjoys immense goodwill and clout in Malayalam cinema, had an interesting analogy on why they finally decided to release ‘Malik’ on a streaming platform.
“Imagine that you have cooked for someone at your place and they are supposed to come for dinner tomorrow. But suddenly the person changes his plans and you put all that prepared food in your refrigerator. The next day, he bails out again … So that wait is long and feels stretched. I just couldn’t move on until this film was released. I couldn’t look at other movies until then,” Faasil said.
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‘Malik’ premieres on Amazon Prime Video on July 15.