It was in 2002 that the son of a very popular Malayalam movie director ventured into cinema, that too, as a hero in his father's film. Expectations were high when Kaiyethum Doorathu hit the screens, mainly because its director Faasil had already gifted the audience with a slew of hits. Manjil Virinja Pookkal, Nokketha Doorathu Kannum Nattu, Manivathoorile Aayiram Sivarathrikal, Manichithrathazhu, Aniyathipravu...all these evergreen flicks, which are still genuinely nostalgic for Malayalis, were borne out of Faasil's magic hands. But the stellar track record didn't help him there. Kaiyethum Doorathu was a box office flop.
One and a half decades have passed. In hindsight, it would seem as though Faasil made the film with a singular purpose—to facilitate the elevation of Shanu, his son, to Fahadh Faasil, an accomplished actor. After the drubbing of Kaiyethum Doorathu, it took seven years for Fahadh Faasil to make a comeback to the big screen. The transformation was amazing. The bald-headed young man, armed with his new look and style, ushered in a novel trend in the movies. Among the mainstream actors who strove hard to hide their thinning hair, Fahadh Faasil stood out as an exception. The 'Fahadh style' became a fad among the youth, and many bald youngsters gleefully did away with their wigs.
Fahadh Faasil's films underscore the fact that a charismatic six-feet tall hero was not essential for the success of a film. The only ingredients needed were a good storyline, a visionary director and versatile actors. Most of the films Fahadh Faasil acted in during his comeback era had all these factors in perfect harmony.
Fahadh Faasil was a natural actor like no other. It is said that even his eyes acted before the camera. Those who have watched Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum will never forget the sparkle there. Be it the Indian envoy in Take Off, or the thief in Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, Fahadh makes a silent statement: he is the right person to carry forward the legacy of eminent actors through the decades, from Sathyan to Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair to P.J. Antony, Bharat Gopi, Mammootty and Mohanlal. The national award for best supporting actor in 2017 could be seen as the first step towards that.
Fahadh Faasil never chased movie moguls for roles. Most of his critically acclaimed films were directed by newcomers. Chappa Kurishu, 22 Female Kottayam, Annayum Rasoolum, Maheshinte Prathikaram, to name a few. Chappa Kurisu , which turned the conventional style of Malayalam cinema on its head, became a turning point in his career. It was the first Malayalam film featuring a lip-lock scene. Vineeth Srinivasan, son of actor Srinivasan, also played a major role in this thriller. Though both the actors gave it their best, it was Fahadh Faasil who made a mark. And that ambidexterity distinguishes him from his peers.
Fahadh Faasil's films are laced with romanticism. Though his very first film Kaiyethum Doorathu itself was a romantic flick, it didn't offer the audience much. However, he later played a range of characters which were so close to reality that they made an indelible mark on the hearts of the viewers. While we despised Cyril in 22FK, we sympathised with the doctor in Diamond Necklace, cried along to Rasool in Annayum Rasoolum. In Maheshinte Prathikaram, you identified with the characters.
Malayalam cinema has reeled under a 'star' syndrome since 2000. When everybody—from senior actors to fresh faces—set their sights to becoming stars rather than actors, Fahadh Faasil's path was different. Being the son of a reputed director, he had enough clout to work with the bigwigs in the industry. But his target was to do a handful of good films. While stars made fans, Fahadh Faasil commanded a devoted audience.
He once said in an interview: “I sincerely want people to watch my films. And that is enough for me. After that, they don't have to think about me. They don't have to be concerned about me. Let them watch it if it is a good film. If it is not, they don't have to.” The message rang loud and clear.
Twenty two years before the release of Kaiyethum Doorath, Faasil, Fahadh's father, came out with his maiden film Manjil Virinja Pookkal, in which both the hero and villain were new faces. It was through this film that Faasil introduced to Malayalam cinema, one of the most versatile actors the entire country has ever seen—Mohanlal. However, looking back, was Lal the greatest discovery of Faasil? No, it was his son, Fahadh. Malayalam cinema was gifted an adept actor, who was, indeed, the need of the hour.