C U Soon REVIEW – Screenshared Fun

Even in the midst of a pandemic, people still find a way to create.

Call me biased, but most will agree that Malayalam cinema (especially in the contemporary age) is a class apart from a majority of the mainstream productions routinely churned out of the Indian film machine. Its latest contribution is C U Soon – the cinematic embodiment of the phrase: “Well, that escalated quickly.”

Released directly on Amazon Prime, the film is the handiwork of Fahadh Faasil and Friends, whose last outing was the critically acclaimed Kumbalangi Nights. The film’s most prominent feature is that it was made during the lockdown – from May to July 2020 – and shot entirely on iPhones. Accordingly, the entire story unfolds through a computer screen – through video calls, texts, and everything in between.

Though it is a unique medium to showcase an entire film, it is a concept that has been done before. Among others, short film Noah (2013), Aneesh Chaganty’s Searching (2018), and horror movie ‘Unfriended’ (2015) have all used this method of storytelling – in descending order of watchability. Nonetheless, C U Soon is definitely the first of its kind in Indian cinema, and bears testament to the evolving nature of the industry as a whole.

Without giving too much away, the plot follows the whirlwind digital romance between UAE-based Jimmy Kurian (Roshan Mathew) and Anumol Sebastian (Darshana Rajendran), who meet on Tinder and hit it off pretty well. A week later, Jimmy is ready to take the next step in the relationship when literally everything begins to fall off the proverbial rails. He then enlists the help of his cousin – IT professional, and generally terrible human being Kevin (Fahadh Faasil) – who then proceeds to extract every last bit of information about Anumol from the internet in order to clear the shroud of mystery enveloping her.

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The thematic similarities between this film and others in the Malayalam genre are evident. Like Jacobinte Swargarajyam and the iconic Arabikatha, there is portrayal of the struggles faced by Malayalis seeking work and better lives in the Middle East. Rising star Roshan Mathew’s Jimmy and his technology-aided romance is vaguely reminiscent of his character Vishnu in the film Kappela.

A toned down version of his character Shammi from Kumbalangi Nights, Fahadh proves again that he excels at playing angry men with handlebar moustaches and the tiniest glint of murder in their eyes. That being said, the overall message of the film is relevant and timely, especially as we move more and more into relying on technology for human interaction. The rest of the cast pull their weight admirably as well, with Darshana Rajendran especially playing her part with understated conviction.

The primary target audience for this film is definitely computer literate individuals – some of the traditional regional audiences may find it difficult to keep up with the constant switching between apps and the extensive usage of English. What must be mentioned however is the impeccable screen choreography and direction by Mahesh Narayanan, with attention given to the tiniest of details like Jimmy’s screen name being all in caps and Anumol using a dated pair of earphones with a bulky mic.

Even the placement of windows on the screen highlight different parts of it and add to the overall effect. To make up for the lack of sophisticated cinematographic equipment, the film employs pans and zooms whenever necessary, building a more than effective atmosphere around the whole situation. In a film where a large part of the action takes place through clicks and typing, it would be remiss not to mention Gopi Sundar’s chilling score, which is so crucial it is almost a character in itself. Never too obvious, the background music is a constant and steady fuel to the rising tensions playing out on screen.

Here’s a friendly heads up – if you’re watching the film with your parents, be prepared for a (deserved) lecture about the dangers of ‘that darn phone’ and probably a blanket ban on anything Internet related for a while. In summary however, C U Soon is proof that whatever the restrictions, humans will find new ways to create. And in these times, that is a cheery prospect indeed.

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C U Soon is a masterfully executed experiment that grips you from the get go. In a world that has been forced to become all too used to digital interactions, this ‘screenshared’ film is a commendable offering from Fahadh Faasil and Friends.