MUMBAI: The pandemic has left its effect on the entertainment industry but it has also led filmmakers to work around the restrictions to tell their stories, says Malayalam star Prithviraj Sukumaran, who shot for his upcoming film 'Cold Case' during COVID-19.
The offer for the Malayalam-language film 'Cold Case' came to the 38-year-old star at a time when the country was already under the coronavirus-induced lockdown last year.
Sukumaran said after much contemplation the team decided to shoot in Trivandrum and Varanasi in accordance with COVID-19 protocols.
"For the first time, everyone was masked, there was sanitization, regular testing on sets, etc. It is a film that told us that it is possible to make films or else we would still be sitting and thinking about how to restart the industry. It taught us how to make cinema with COVID protocols," Sukumaran told PTI in a Zoom interview.
With theatres being shut in India as the country grapples with a devastating second wave of the pandemic, the producers had to opt for OTT release as the next best thing.
'Cold Case' premiers on Amazon Prime Video on June 30 and the actor is happy that the film will be available in more than 240 countries.
"It is not the time where I can tell my audience to go to theatres with their families. That would not be a responsible statement right now. Given the circumstances, it (OTT) is the way to go."
"But even without these circumstances being in place, (as) I had said in the past, OTT premieres and theatrical releases will coexist. This would have happened regardless of the pandemic. I believe COVID-19 accelerated this process," he added.
The actor-filmmaker said streamers will help the film industry from the finance and creative standpoint.
"We will diversify because there will be films that will be made for the platform. It is a different viewing experience, it (OTT) is very personal. It is between content and the viewer as opposed to being in a theatre and sharing the experience with a community of thousands of people," he said.
The actor, best known for his Malayalam films such as "Classmates", "Vaasthavam", "Indian Rupee", "Ennu Ninte Moideen" and Hindi film "Aiyaa", said his process of selecting films is simple: he looks at them as an audience.
"If I sit back and think the next script has to be something new and never done before or something that will let me grow as an actor, you may miss out on a great script that deserves to be made. My idea is to keep the analysis simple. You read a script as somebody who is watching it and not as somebody who is in it."
The actor described 'Cold Case', which marks the directorial debut of cinematographer Tanu Balak, as a hybrid genre film, which is an investigative crime thriller laced with elements of horror.
"For films like ('Cold Case'), what is important is that when you read the script, the question of what next remains significant right up till the end. I remember when I read the script, it held my interest and I wanted to know what is happening next and that is what attracted me to the film," he said.
The actor plays a no-nonsense investigative officer and said he took a conscious decision to not override his characters over the script, which is penned by Sreenath V Nath.
For Sukumaran, the hallmark of great writing is that the character never becomes bigger than the film.
"I don't lend too much weightage that the character becomes bigger than the plot. That is what I have tried to do in 'Cold Case'. I have always maintained that what I do in the film is secondary, what is important is that I am part of a good film. I would rather do a small, uncomplicated or mundane part in a great film than do a complex and layered character in a bad film."
Sukumaran recently announced his next directorial venture 'Bro Daddy' with superstar Mohanlal.
They previously collaborated on the actor's directorial debut 'Lucifer' in 2019.
With "Bro Daddy', the actor said his aim is to deliver an entertaining film amid such grim times.
"'Bro Daddy' is exciting to me because we all are desperately missing a happy film. I am. It is one of those films that I hope will put a smile on your face and not fry your brain. As a filmmaker, it will be a very good shake up between 'Lucifer' and the sequel to 'Lucifer'. I will break my filmmaking pattern to make this film and that will be a good exercise for me," he added.
The actor said he shares a warm relationship with Mohanlal and he is looking forward to teaming up again with him.
"As the screenplay develops and you start thinking about the subject, faces start appearing. We share a good relationship, we stay in the same building, we meet each other and hang out quite a lot. He is one of the finest actors and biggest superstars," he said.
Acting remains Sukumaran's first love though.
"I will always be an actor and once in a while, I will come across a script that I would like to make as a filmmaker," he said.