C U Soon Review: Fahadh Faasil Makes a Fairly Satisfying Thriller Even Better

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C U Soon Review: Fahadh Faasil Makes a Fairly Satisfying Thriller Even Better

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

In a pre-pandemic world, this scene played out often – I would bump into an acquaintance and the person would invariably say, “I don’t need to ask you what’s up. You are so active on FB.” I wouldn’t bother denying it, but the fact is that irrespective of how and what I choose to put out on social media, you actually have no idea what is up with me. Or with that ditzy friend who puts up PDA posts of her husband. Or the querulous man who can’t stop telling you how done he is with the government. Or the cheerful person who puts up daily morning selfies with Rumi quotes. You know zilch about these people, even though it appears as if it’s all out there for public consumption

That is the premise that the new Malayalam release, C U Soon is constructed on. (The film is streaming on Amazon Prime Video). We live in a world of TMI or “too much information” and online oversharing, but finally we could possibly know nothing about the people we talk with, argue with, agree with or even fall in love with. The director, Mahesh Narayanan, who has also written the film had previously directed the hit, Take Off in 2018.

Its producer and lead actor, Fahadh Faasil, is often name-checked by non Malayali movie buffs to advertise their own discerning cinema tastes. It is cool by association: If you like Fahadh, you are cool because he definitely is. His cinema choices are unconventional, he is a fine actor, and he is not trying to break into Bollywood. After all, he is part of an industry which is light years ahead of anything contemporary Hindi cinema is making.

In the last few years, Malayalam cinema has breached its usual constituency with films like Kumbalangi Nights (2019) and Angamaly Diaries (2017). There are plenty more to add to the list – but these two films are good examples of crossover cult films. It is the most experimental and nuanced storytelling in the country currently, and more often than not, Malayalam cinema is a whiff of fresh air. I couldn’t say the same thing about Fahadh’s last film, Trance, which was bloated, meandering, and underwhelming. Fortunately, C U Soon gets most things right.

A lockdown thriller meant for laptop screens

a still from c u soon

C U Soon was shot during the lockdown and the makers tell you in an opening note that this was their way of ensuring some employment at least for the Kerala film industry. The note is grim, sombre, and a tad too virtuous. That pretty much describes the film as well. But more on that later.

The film begins with Jimmy (Roshan Mathew), a young man in Abu Dhabi, who matches with Anu (Darshana Rajendran) in Dubai on Tinder. They share photos and information over different social media platforms, Anu even strums the guitar for him – interestingly, Anu has a phone, an internet connection but no SIM card. Very soon, Jimmy is madly in love. So much so, that within a week Jimmy is video conferencing with his mother, his cousin, and Anu together only to propose marriage.

Fortunately, his mother is not that credulous, and gets his cousin, Kevin (Fahadh Faasil) to do a background check. Kevin does it half-heartedly but even that half-hearted search can be disconcerting for anyone watching with an internet connection. All he needs is a fleeting screen grab of Anu’s router and he soon has all the information he needs. Or does he? More importantly, is it the right information? All of this is put under the scanner when Anu disappears on Jimmy. The police are on the case and Kevin realises that Anu might not have been the person they thought she was.

For a film that is primarily told through a computer and phone screen, C U Soon is a technical accomplishment. The format has reminded quite a few viewers of   Aneesh Chaganty’s Searching from 2018, although the plots are totally different. C U Soon is significant because it could be India’s first movie that wants to play off a computer screen. Unlike other pandemic releases, their choice of screen is not a second best or a compromise. It is the screen the makers designed their film for.

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Has Fahadh Faasil ever disappointed? 

C U Soon is taut, gripping, and leaves the viewer riveted as the puzzle is pieced together. But once the puzzle falls in place, C U Soon flags. The final reveal isn’t a major twist and then the film spends far too much time post-reveal in trying to get you emotionally charged up about Anu’s back story. Primarily through Kevin’s character who goes from being an entitled jerk to someone with empathy and even compassion. That Fahadh Faasil manages to show you this graph by largely staring at a computer screen should tell you why the man deserves all the acting accolades he gets.

Roshan Mathew who is fast inching his way into my list of Malayali actor crushes (currently, it is pretty much the whole industry so it isn’t a very exclusive list) is reliably good. The role doesn’t need him to do more than that. Top acting honours though, must go to Darshana who plays Anu. She is at once vulnerable and deceptive – and you are never quite sure what she is up to. It is a fine performance, and doesn’t feel acted.

Apart from the last 20 minutes, C U Soon is a fairly satisfying thriller. You could watch it purely as a film. Or you could watch it and be unnerved by how much of yourself you put on the line when you go online. The latter might shake you up more than what happens to Anu in the film. A lot more.

C U Soon is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.