The movie, which revolves around a single character of a musician, is set to release directly on Amazon Prime Video
Those who have followed Malayalam actor Jayasurya and director Ranjith Sankar’s works would already be aware that the duo’s projects together have always had a tinge of experimentation attached to it. Their latest film Sunny might be their biggest experiment yet – as the film has only a single character played by Jayasurya.
The movie, which is also scripted by Ranjith Sankar, is edited by Shameer Muhammed and has music and lyrics by Sankar Sharma and Sandra Madhav, respectively. Renowned cinematographer Madhu Neelakandan has cranked the camera for the movie, which was shot in October 2020 after the pandemic restrictions were lifted in Kerala.
What is the concept of Sunny?
Sunny is a one-actor film with Jayasurya playing the only character in the movie. The actor plays an aspiring musician, who loses everything in his life and is forced to return to Kerala from Dubai during the pandemic and “shuts himself from the society”. While stuck in an emotional rut, the musician befriends a couple of strangers, who over a course of a week, changes his perspective and helps him rekindle hope. The other characters in the movie have a presence only their voices, as revealed in the movie’s teaser.
Over the years, there have been several one-actor films including Tom Hanks’ Castaway, Tom Hardy’s Locke, James Franco’s 127 Hours and Ryan Reynold’s Buried. Parthibhan’s Oththa Seruppu Size 7 is the latest South Indian film to have a single hero.
Incidentally, in 2020, another Malayalam film titled 18+ was announced that was planned with a single actor, AK Vijubal. The movie was to be helmed by debutant Midhun Jyoti. Mollywood also has the distinction of releasing the first South Indian film with a single actor through Kalabhavan Mani’s 2001 movie The Guard.
How long did Ranjith Sankar work on Sunny?
In an earlier interview with OTTplay, Ranjith had told us that the idea for Sunny first struck him in March 2020 and it took him almost six months to finish the script. “I think Sunny is the first script I wrote without a one-liner. I wrote so many versions to convince myself I can do it. I wrote it without any actor in mind. I thought if I could write it convincingly, I would get any actor because in his or her career, an actor would do just one film like this,” he said.
For Jayasurya, the movie coincidentally is also his 100th film in his 20-year-old career. Jayasurya had told us, “I am probably the only person in the world to have acted alone in his 100th film. That’s a huge blessing. If we had done it as just a gimmick, the movie wouldn’t have had a soul. So, we wanted to ensure that it doesn’t bore the audience and it progressed at an engaging pace. The movie has all of those elements.”
The movie marks their seventh collaboration after Punyalan Agarbattis, Su.. Su.. Sudhi Vathmeekam, Pretham, Punyalan Private Limited, Njan Marykutty and Pretham 2.
“All the films that Ranjith and I have done have been different; there’s an experiment factor in all of them. For instance, if you take Punyalan Agarbatties, it’s about a man who makes agarbatties from elephant dung. Su.. Su.. Sudhi Vathmeekam is again a movie about a person with a speech impediment, how do you make it a commercial film? Njan Marykutty was about a transgender and Pretham had me playing a mentalist – so all these films had me essaying extremely varied characters,” said the actor.
What were the challenges of doing a one-actor movie like Sunny?
For Ranjith, the challenge was writing the script as he had earlier told us that he had been trying to make a single-actor film for years but couldn’t land on a subject till Sunny last year.
He also said that it was a difficult movie to make due to the pandemic restrictions and most importantly, “it is difficult for a single actor to perform for 100 minutes alone” without people not getting fed up with his acting.
Right after he had finished scripting, he approached Jayasurya, who by then had a bearded look that matched the character of Sunny. Within 10 days of narrating the script to Jayasurya, the team began the shoot as “we were at a phase where we had the conviction and it could fade away very fast with such films,” said Ranjith.
In terms of preparation, Jayasurya said that he didn’t do much, except be involved during the discussions with the filmmaker.
When is Sunny releasing?
On opting for an OTT release, Ranjith had earlier told us, “We would have loved it to be a theatre release, because it demands attention. But now, we don't have many options and theatres are not showing any signs of reopening soon. Even if they do, the kind of audience I expect for Sunny will not show up, I feel, because we need an ideal condition for people to come and watch a film like this. So, I think OTT is the best option.”
Jayasurya too said that OTTs have given more freedom to writers and directors in terms of their thoughts for the films. “Also, while watching a movie on an OTT platform, there isn’t anyone else who could influence his or her opinion by saying there’s a ‘lag’ in the movie; people stream films based on their convenience,” he said.
Sunny is set to release on Amazon Prime Video on September 23. It will be Jayasurya’s second direct-to-OTT release after Sufiyum Sujatayum last year.