Malayalam film 'Love' out in UAE theatres
Lead stars Rajisha Vijayan and Shine Tom Chako on their labour of love
When Malayalam director Khalid Rahman (Anuraga Karikkin Vellam, Unda) called up Rajisha Vijayan (June) and Shine Tom Chako (Ishq) a few months ago to discuss a new project in Kerala, India, both the actors were under the impression the movie will be shot post lockdown. Little did they know that the 'mere 4-day shoot' that Rahman glibly referred to would turn out to be a 24-day shoot within the constrained environment of an apartment in Kochi. Shot with less than 30 people on set at a time, black comedy Love, follows the path of the critically acclaimed C U Soon, starring Fahadh Faasil and Roshan Mathew, that was also shot during the lockdown but was released on an OTT platform. Here the lead stars tell us about their struggle behind the scenes and the creative satisfaction of filming a project during the pandemic.
Can Love draw Malayali audiences back to the theatre?
Love is the first movie to come out of India (post Khaali Peeli) to have a theatrical release in the UAE. With cinemas currently running at limited capacity, it's arguably a brave attempt on the part of the makers to draw in a crowd that's perhaps wary about returning to an enclosed place. The makers, we are informed, toyed with the idea of releasing it on an OTT platform, but decided to take a chance at the UAE theatres. Shine admits that C U Soon, arguably the first Malayalam movie to be shot and released during the lockdown, showed the world how to make a movie within the four walls of a residential flat with all its limitations. But Love, he asserts, is a complete package. Both the actors are also confident that the thriller will have you pondering long after you have left the theatre.
The trailer of the movie is pretty dark and action-packed revolving around a young married couple Anoop and Deepti who get into a fight and the aftermath of that. "When people hear the term domestic violence, they immediately think of women being victimised by men," Shine responds when we quiz him about the theme of the movie. "But it happens from both sides, doesn't it?" he gets passionate. "When there is an argument between a man and a woman, if a woman is being attacked, in the same manner the man is also being attacked. But when people talk, it is only about the woman being attacked."
"Even in the trailer it is the wife who attacks the husband, but if the husband even grabs her by the arm then it becomes domestic violence. Her beating him up or shouting is not seen as domestic violence.. why?" He's got a point there and it got us thinking of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl for some reason.
When there is an argument between a couple, there will be right and wrong from both sides, he continues. Every one has their own version of truth and that is what the movie is trying to tell us.
Rajisha clarifies that Love is not a movie set during the pandemic or about a couple who are locked up. "It is about a married couple and what happens in their life. The movie is talking about love as an emotion, when perceived from a different angle."
She asserts that no character is fully black or white in this movie; everybody has shades of grey and that is what the film is about.
"Love is not about violence between a husband and wife; it explores the human emotions of a married couple," explains the actress.
The genius of Khalid Rahman
He's the ace director behind the 2016 movie Anuraga Karikkin Vellam that launched Rajisha and won her the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress as well. He followed it up with Unda in 2019, a movie that showcased Malayali audiences' favourite Mammootty in a totally different avatar. Both the artists unsurprisingly are all praise for their captain. Rajisha who counts herself lucky to have started her career with him says; "Khalid is one director who is able to extract exactly what he wants out of his actors however senior they may be."
"As a director he will ensure you don't repeat yourself on the sets because he doesn't want you to give to this movie what you have already delivered in other projects. Whatever you do, at the end of the day he will take what he wants from it - and sometimes it is something you yourself are not aware you are capable of. And until he gets it he will make us work."
Adds Shine: "The way he angled Mamooka (in Unda) I was amazed. Even though I have done a lot of negative characters, with Rahman you can't get away with doing something you have done before. He's not looking for our performances or acting nuances - how we would react to certain situations is what he wanted us to bring to the table. He will break all your mannerisms and emoting techniques if need be to get what he wants."
What the lead cast were upto during the pandemic
'You can't really lock up artists,' states Rajisha about the effect of the recent lockdown on her. "Everybody is just a click away, so we tend to think, why meet? "However many social media platforms come, at the end of the day we are all social animals who need physical contact."
She adds that the pandemic also taught her the value of money and the fact that we need to invest in experiences rather than gadgets and material things.
Shine on his part went into a philosophical mode, taking about how a tiny virus from Wuhan showed us that we are all connected in the end. "How else can a virus that has its origin in China spread across the world and curtail our freedom here? We've all been saying the world is one for so long, but this truly showed us that.
"The virus has also taught us how important it is to be self-sufficient," he adds going on to detail the vegetable crop his family has been cultivating in his home which has led them to rely less on the outside world.
Love, distributed by Golden Cinema and Home Screen Entertainment, releases in UAE cinemas on Thursday, October 15.