Malayalam director Nithish Sahadev, who has helmed Basil Joseph’s Falimy, on the challenges he faced while making the road movie, the comparisons with #Home and more
For debutant Malayalam filmmaker Nithish Sahadev, making his road movie Falimy was in itself an interesting journey. Though the project was first announced in 2019, it underwent a lot of changes – with that pandemic causing a delay and casting changes forcing him to rewrite the script. That said, the filmmaker is now gearing up for the release of Falimy, which has Basil Joseph, Manju Pillai, Jagadish, Sandeep Pradeep and Meenaraj as its principal cast members.
In an exclusive chat with OTTplay, Nithish talks about the challenges he faced while making the film, how he has tried to evade the comparisons with other road movies as well as #Home and more.
A road movie is a genre that most filmmakers would want to attempt for its possibilities, but you don’t often think about a family being the accompanying members. There are films like Finding Fanny, Piku and Little Miss Sunshine, but movies dealing with family road-trips are few and far between, especially in Malayalam.
Yes, I have watched almost all travel films. So, right from the onset, I wanted to ensure that there was something fresh about the film that I was doing. Obviously, the trajectory of a road-trip film will be more or less the same, but I was aware, for the movie to stand on its own, it needed a different element from previous movies. That’s why more than focusing on the places, I decided to stick with their characters and their emotions.
The challenge while making a road movie, even though the genre is rarely explored in Malayalam, is that our audience is familiar with a lot of similar films. So, I had to dig deep to come up with something fresh; this was made tougher because I had to break the screenplay again. I believe I was able to lend that freshness to the script.
You had begun work on Falimy in 2018, and so, how much did the delay – due to various reasons – as well as the cast changes (with Basil Joseph replacing Antony Varghese) actually help you arrive at the movie that is set to release?
The character that I had initially written with Antony in mind was totally different from what Basil has played. Antony’s character was more frustrated; he had his own emotions and reasons for resentment. His job was also different from what Basil’s character has done now. It was an interesting character, nonetheless, as all of this was dealt with humour. After Basil came onboard, because the audience loved his kind of humour, I had to make a change in terms of how his character’s emotional journey is structured.
In a typical road movie, every character is equally important. What sort of challenge did that pose, especially because this movie revolves around the five family members?
The audience follows these five characters throughout the film. The challenge is that it can quickly drain the attention of the viewers, if it’s not engaging. So, that was tough. If you look at Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey, the audience is following only two characters and in Romancham, you initially have a comedy setting and then you tease horror elements, which hooks the audience. But in a road movie, you don’t have that; it’s a journey with no real direction. Keeping that into account, we have tried to give everyone equal importance.
Did casting Manju Pillai as the mother of two grown-up sons in Falimy also draw parallels to her role in #Home?
Because Manju chechi had already played the role in #Home, which was hugely popular, it’s a task to replace that character in the minds of the audience. In Falimy too, the family consists of a father, mother, two sons and a grandfather. So, everybody asked me if Falimy is a movie like #Home? It’s not; it’s totally different.
Falimy is about a family who plans to go to Varanasi, and when they reach there, it deals with certain hallucinations and incidents that happen in that land. Plus, I have gone for a lot of trips with my family; so, this movie has all of that as well. There are also elements of adventure with the family members in Falimy, keeping into account the theatrical experience that is required now for a film to work.