One Of India’s Finest Actors, the Malayali Maverick Fahadh Faasil, a Modern-Day Dilip Kumar Is Back Again Giving Yet Another Layered & Luminous Performance In Joji. He Discusses His Preoccupations As An Actor With Subhash K Jha
Congratulations, one more incredibly unfathomable portrait in Joji.Who are you????!!!
(Laughs)Thank you. It’s been a turbulent last few months for me. After the accident my stitches have recently come out.
Are you fully healed?
I basically fractured my nasal bone.That requires some more time to mend fully .
You do realize that no role is worth risking your life and bones over?
Now I realize it . I spoke to Mr Kamal Haasan who has a history of innumerable broken bones and injuries.
You must guard yourself . You are national treasure?
(laughs uncomfortably) I don’t know about that . But I do know life and health are precious.I realize as an actor I need to be responsible to Fahadh Faazil the human being.And also it was not dangerous shot. So it could happen any time.But there has to be a bridge between the character and the actor.
You lost a lot of time because of the accident?
No, I don’t function on timelines. I feel sorry for the people who are waiting for me to work. I am ready to work when I am ready. I like my time off doing nothing. I take time a lot of time off from shooting.
Tell me, how were you able to work through the Covid in so many movies?
Well, C U Soon was shot during the initial phase of the lockdown. But Irul and Joji were shot last year much later after a bit of a normalcy was restored. I decided it was time to get back to work. There was no point in waiting for the Covid to be over. I decided to work on more modest-budgeted smaller projects which did not require much commuting. Both Irul and Joji happen in one given space.
I resent you calling Joji a smaller film?
Smaller in the sense that it was easier to shoot but very difficult to capture on camera. In fact Joji is by far the most difficult role I’ve ever played. It was very stressful to shoot. Not just the actors shooting, I could see even those who were out of camera range getting stressed. I normally like to get feedback from the technicians off-camera specially the lightmen because they’re able to observe the minutest of details from where they are.When I spoke to them I could see how stressed they were. Everybody on the set of Joji was completely logged in to the drama.
How stressed were you during the making of Joji?
I didn’t realize how stressed I was until after the shooting. That’s the way it is normally.When I recently had time off after my accident I realized how stressful the shooting of Joji was for me personally. I don’t think I’ve ever been more tense playing any character.
The mask always played an important part in Shakespeare’s plays. Now in Joji(which is a Macbeth adaptation) the mask acquires a renewed relevance because of what is going in the world?
Yes, these were nuances that were worked into the script. We wanted to make Joji relevant to our times.
After two back-to-back films are you exhausted , or are you one of those workaholic actors who is already going into his next project?
Even if I was –and I am not—a film project cannot start when I want it to. It depends on the readiness of a lot of people. This is one of the reasons why I am more comfortable producing my own films. If I had gone to another producer to do Joji it would have been very difficult to convince him.Producing my own films gives me more freedom. I am responsible not for others’ money but my own.
Is the producer’s responsibilities at the back of your mind while shooting?
Not really.When we are shooting we don’t think about these things. We shoot a film the way we want to.
One generic question. How do you manage to immerse yourself so completely in all the characters you play?
To be very honest, I don’t think it happens in all the films I do. Yes it has happened occasionally , It has happened in Dileesh’s three film(Dileesh Pothan, the Joji director). I believe it’s the ambience he creates for me.Dileesh has a unique way of approaching his subject and characters . Also, Dileesh shoots his film chronologically. That really helps an actor to develop his character. I’ve worked with a lot of brilliant directors. But Dileesh is one of the few who shoots the sequences chronologically.
So is this a marriage for life?
You mean Dileesh and me?No no.The next film that we are collaborating on , we are producing together but someone else is directing. Dileesh is discussing projects with some other actors. But we’ve a formed a production company together .
How important is it for you to keep scaling new heights as an actor?
I don’t think about it. After Joji my audience is not thinking about my other works. But yes after Irul people went back to my earlier works.
Would you agree with when I say Irul was a disappointment?
Yes yes absolutely. It was made with a lot of limitations.
Tell me about your film with Kamal Haasan?
It’s a very interesting narrative. And my character takes on the narrative.I am really looking forward it.I am hoping to join the shooting in August 2021. In May I’ve Maalik on release in which we take on the coastal politics of Kerala. It’s a fictionalized version of reality. I don’t want it discussed for its controversial aspects. I’d like it to be discussed not for its politics but its cinematic merits. The first 12 minutes of Maalik is one single shot.
Wow! How? That’s a world record.
(laughs) Is it?We just shot it like that.I don’t think it’s a world record. I think there have been entire films that have been done in a single shot. I believe Mr Ram Gopal Varma has also done something like that.
Tell me about your future projects?
I am doing a film called Malayankunu which my dad(filmmaker Fazil) is producing. He had produced the film that had launched me as an actor.I am collaborating with him after 18 years. It’s again a subject something I haven’t done. Its a very interesting subject. It’s based on a real-life incident. It will be completed in July. We are looking at a theatrical release on August-September 2021.
When we spoke the last time you were very emphatic on keeping the theatrical and digital release apart?
I still believe that the two platforms are separate.I don’t think Joji would have worked if released in theatres.
I don’t think Joji would have appealed to audiences who look for commercial aspects in their cinema. Everything in Joji from the sound to the pace is designed for home viewing. In fact I plan to do a theatrical version of my digital film C U Soon.
How satisfying it it for you as an actor to have such a large pan-India, in fact global, audience watching your films on the digital platform?
It’s an honour .It’s an amazing feeling.But I don’t think too far ahead .I don’t plan my films for posterity.
Do you intend to be an actor all your life?
(Sighs) I really don’t know. I keep wondering how people do the same job for 20-30 years. I would be an actor , yes. But I could explore the stage later in my life.
Finally do you crave to be in Hindi cinema?
I crave to be in cinema.I crave to get to know more about the technical side of filmmaking. If am in a plane with a superstar and a screenwriter I would rather sit next to the writer.