In the pre-pandemic era, Searching, directed by Aneesh Chaganty, unknowingly set a tight, harrowing template for a mainstream thriller set in the online, digital world. Now, with our living, working, and private worlds upended as far as the vax can see, it’s not just a pre-adult demographic that’s exposed to the incessant stream of digipacks, but all of us as well. And that includes bank client officer Jimmy Kurian (Roshan Mathew), who, in the Malayalam movie C U Soon — which uses the same template, but takes it into a superbly distinctive journey of its own — based out of an apartment in Sharjah, swipes right on Tinder and falls for Anu Sebastian (Darshana Rajendran) swiftly and surely.
Writer-editor director Mahesh Narayan (Take Off), also the virtual cinematographer for this project — a credit we’ll be seeing more of, I suspect — having shot the entire movie on iPhones in apartments in Kochi during the pandemic — keeps his script tight and economical. Using all the icons that apps deploy — three blinking dots, to show, for example, if someone’s typing — and online chatting techniques — typing, only to tap the clear option to rescind and rethink one’s thoughts — the director radiates warmth and yearning in the budding romance between Anu and Jimmy. Those same icons and popping sounds ratchet up the tension later on in the movie. That Jimmy’s impetuous and thinks from his bleating heart is established as he quickly sets up a video call with his mother in the US (Maala Parvathi), and cousin sister for them to meet Anu, also living in Sharjah. Under normal circs., all would have been okay. The catch here is that the couple hasn’t met face-to-face, and Jimmy pops the nuptial proposal on said call. That something’s amiss about Anu is apparent, but love is blind, and virtual love blind to any muted, worrisome signals pulsing across the network. It’s a telling portrait of our times. As all of us slip in wearisome work and home routines and the only time we’re stirred is while prepping for stir-fry veggies, we’re all craving that long-forgotten touch, a dash of excitement, a breeze of adventure, and a surfeit of scenery change. Which is what makes us all vulnerable to online missteps and stumbles.
Meanwhile, Jimmy’s mother, Mary, wary of her son’s sudden online handfasting, ropes in her nephew, maverick, and moody night-shift IT dredger in Kochi, Kevin (Fahad Faasil) to hack out more information about the girl. Kevin, struggling with his own relationship with team lead and lover Sanjana (Amalda Liz), scoffs at his cousin brother’s latest amour. What he thinks of women and affairs of the heart is established as he and Sanjana spar over work and his ego. This angle, perhaps, is the only one in the movie that limps a little, but director Narayan moves the video calls and chats along at a snappy pace, so there’s no time to ruminate as Jimmy gets into trouble, mysterious events circle around Anu, and it’s up to Kevin to unravel and disentangle his cousin — and the family — from a rapidly disintegrating situation.
Wound up tightly, C U Soon uncoils swiftly and effectively with director Narayan wearing his experienced and ace editor’s hat, and in the process of expending its fraught energy, uncovers the unspeakable horror that sometimes ships mid-eastern Gulf money into Kerala’s backwaters. And as Faasil’s Kevin discovers the truth, his demeanor and façade changes and melts, his superbious shell crushed irreversibly. The actor — also co-producing the movie — plays Kevin with a studied and effective intensity that segues from disdain to genuine concern, his phiz a portmanteau of bubbling emotions. Fahadh Faasil is a joy and a treasure to behold and cherish at the cinema, and C U Soon cements his place at the thinking actor’s marquee. Aided by Gopi Sundar’s background score that swells and rouses in the romantic scenes a la Ilaiyaraaja and taps nervously elsewhere, the movie also has a very effective and sincere Roshan Mathew and a heartrending act by Darshana Rajendran who raise their scenes to more than a digi-slick-and-click.
Even if director Narayan ends the movie with a prayer for all of us to congregate at cinema halls soon, he wouldn’t want you to, in the meantime, carelessly swipe and chat indiscreetly online. And even if you do, the movie’s biggest hope is that you do what’s right by the other person in the chat window.Movie data powered by IMDb. All images owned by the producers.
C U Soon is streaming on Prime and is rated U/A (Parental Guidance for children below the age of 12 years) for some intense scenes and language
C U Soon
Director Mahesh Narayan Time 1h 38min
Writer Mahesh Narayan
Stars Fahadh Faasil, Roshan Mathew, Darshana Rajendran
Genres Drama, Mystery, Thriller