A casting coup of this sort was last witnessed a decade back, in Joshi's Twenty: 20. In what is seen as his biggest project yet, director Aashiq Abu has assembled some of the most incredibly talented and well-known names working today in Malayalam cinema for his next titled, Virus.Revathy leads a distinguished cast comprising Parvathy Thiruvoth, Tovino Thomas, Asif Ali, Rima Kallingal, Kalidas Jayaram, Remya Nambeesan, Soubin Shahir, Dileesh Pothan, and Chemban Vinod Jose.
The film, which is not an anthology, will revolve around multiple characters dealing with the Nipah outbreak. The script is jointly written by Muhsin Parari (co-writer of Sudani from Nigeria) and Suhas and Sharafu (writers of the upcoming Amal Neerad film Varathan). Suhas and Sharafu have worked as assistant directors on Sudani from Nigeria.
Muhsin Parari, who made his directorial debut with KL10 Pathu, has assisted Aashiq on 5 Sundarikal. He was working on another project titled Kaakka921 (with Sudani... director Zakariya) when Aashiq suggested the idea of Virus. "Me and Zakariya were in Kozhikode around the time of the outbreak. We got a good sense of the city's mood at the time."
Muhsin managed to get a first-hand account of the situations that happened in Kozhikode city from some of his doctor friends. "I've always held a fascination for those in the medical profession. We felt we could structure a narrative around the Nipah outbreak based on the things we heard from the medicos I knew," says Muhsin.
Virus is essentially a survival drama, reveals Muhsin. "It explores human psychology when faced with a phenomenon we have no clue about. How do we deal with something that tests our survival mechanism, knowledge and endurance levels? How much can our own ignorance scare us? How do we overcome a disaster of that magnitude? It poses a lot of thought-provoking questions."
Virus is produced by Aashiq Abu under the banner of OPM. Sushin Shyam (Maradona, Varathan) will be composing the music while Sameera Saneesh (Mayaanadhi, Kammara Sambhavam) will be handling the costumes and Saiju Sreedharan (Mayaanadhi, Maheshinte Prathikaram) the editing.
Rajeev Ravi has been roped in as the cinematographer. The Kammattipadam director, who is known for his long and fruitful association with director Anurag Kashyap, told us he wasn't aware of the film's subject when Aashiq approached him about it. "Aashiq had asked me whether I can shoot a film for him and I said yes," says Rajeev.