The two reactions I saw under each post that shared the trailer link of C U Soon directed by Mahesh Narayanan were, “It looks great” and “It feels like Searching”. After watching the film, I would say both the reactions are kind of true. And when I say that, I am not saying the content here isn’t original. The story here has depth and the characters are fleshed out impressively. The lockdown had created a lot of limitations for everyone including creative people. And the fact that they managed to create an intricately written movie like C U Soon set in a totally unfamiliar space kind of adds a sense of hope.
Jimmy Kurian is working in the Middle East in a bank. One day he finds a match in a dating app. The girl’s name was Anu Sebastian and they both started chatting and video calling each other. Too early into the relationship, Jimmy even decides to propose her in front of his family through a video call. After all that quick developments Anu goes missing leaving a video for Jimmy saying it’s her last video. Jimmy and his family then seek the help of Kevin, Jimmy’s cousin, and a techie/hacker. The combined effort of these people to find out details about Anu is basically the plot of C U Soon.
When Searching released in 2018, the movie blew everyone’s mind because nothing like that was seen before. It almost created a genre where the definition of the camera got redefined. Mahesh Narayanan has adapted the style and syntax of that film by Aneesh Chaganty to tell a story that is completely different. The movie is completely set in the virtual space. The very first visuals we see are the screengrab of a chat between Jimmy and Anu. Soon it escalates to video calls via phone and desktop. And when this data extractor hacker Kevin comes into the picture, his Mac becomes pretty much the editing table of the film.
This is that unconventional film with unheard credits in its credits list. Mahesh Narayanan is credited as the virtual cinematographer of the movie. C U Soon is not a merely edited version of a collection of screengrabs. In a typical movie setup, the language of the camera depicts a lot of emotions. Close up indicates intensity, the light represents certain emotions, the panning of the camera, the dolly zoom, etc have a meaning to it. When your available footage is virtual world visuals, this grammar becomes a challenge. That’s where a movie like Searching becomes a good reference for filmmakers and Mahesh Narayanan has used the techniques to manipulate the viewer. It was fascinating to see a guy sitting in India checking the premises of a police station in UAE and the cuts and BGM were able to create the vibe of an MI movie.
Roshan Mathew sinks his teeth into the character without any flaws. From being a flirt, Jimmy’s character goes through a drastic shift in terms of emotions and Roshan was in control of the performance. Darshana Rajendran as the puzzling Anu was also extremely convincing. We empathize with that character ultimately. Along with smart writing, it was her portrayal of Anu that makes us think from the perspective of that character. Fahadh Faasil as Kevin is actually one more angry character added to his filmography. And what was good about his performance was that it was evidently different from the other angry set of characters he has done previously. There is a sense of absolute apathy and irreverence in Kevin which gradually fades away and Fahadh as usual conveyed that transition gracefully and minimally.
Some may find the trajectory and aid Kevin gets in his investigation a bit difficult to digest. But the way it has been shown to the viewer has a level of conviction. Almost like how some crazy tech in Mission Impossible movies felt legit for us. The characters here are given a clear background. We are shown the dynamic between the characters played by Amalda Liz and Fahadh Faasil multiple times in the movie without deviating from the main track. Even though it felt like a distraction, Jimmy also has a back-story that wasn’t really clean. Mahesh Narayanan isn’t spoon-feeding the viewer here with too many details and at many places, we are taking the effort to fill the dots, which in a way keeps you hooked on to the film till the end.
C U Soon is an exciting thriller that keeps you at the edge of your seat for its entire runtime. Mahesh Narayanan is trying an unraveling style with this screenplay and he is not trying to bombard you with twists. The style definitely has inspiration from the Aneesh Chaganty movie, but that doesn’t reduce the charm of this engrossing thriller.
Mahesh Narayanan isn’t spoon-feeding the viewer here with too many details and at many places, we are taking the effort to fill the dots, which in a way keeps you hooked on to the film till the end.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended