Santhosh Lakshman: Deepak Parambol has a great script sense
The actor-turned-filmmaker on making his directorial debut with The Last Two Days
One of the few Malayalam actors active in the OTT space lately is Deepak Parambol, who made his digital debut recently with director Mridul Nair's web series, Instagraamam, released as a Neestream original. The actor is back with another Neestream release, The Last Two Days, a feature-length film helmed by actor-turned-filmmaker Santhosh Lakshman, in his directorial debut. The film will stream from May 27.
"We conceived the film during the last lockdown when the cases were around 10,000 or so. My initial plan was to do a big-budget project with the same production house, but since that wasn't feasible at the time, we zeroed in on a much smaller subject. And this was the time when the possibility of an OTT release was opening up," says Santhosh.
However, despite the constraints and the minimal setting, the Kollam native wanted to do something different instead of going for the tried-and-tested "garage" storytelling approach. He found a resort and some neighbouring locations hitherto unexplored in Malayalam cinema. Interestingly, this fresh approach, Santhosh says, worked in the film's favour. Ernakulam's Palluruthy is where they set the story.
"I found these areas much to my liking. Our director of photography, Faisal Ali (of Ordinary-fame), hasn't had, until now, the opportunity to work on a film with a relatively more gritty look. He has pulled it off well," he adds.
Interestingly, the film, which chronicles events occurring over two days, has a duration of only 1 hr 16 mins. Santhosh initially considered stretching the story beyond the current length, but decided against it as he didn't want any pacing issues.
On Deepak's casting, Santhosh tells us that he had been observing the actor for a while and felt he would be an apt choice for the lead. "It's not because I couldn't find anyone else. I believe Deepak is someone with a great script sense. I once pitched him a big project, which he didn't like. (laughs) This role, however, proved to be a big makeover for him."
The film also has Nandhan Unni, Aditi Ravi, Abu Valayamkulam, Major Ravi, Dharmajan and others. Santhosh confirms the presence of a much-celebrated Malayalam actor in a mystery role. As the makers wanted to keep his name a secret, it was unmentioned in the promos.
Suresh Narayan of Dharma Films produced the film scripted by Santhosh Lakshman and Navaneeth Reghu. Faisal Ali cranked the camera while Vinayan MJ handled the editing. Arjun Raj and Sejo John wrote the music.
In addition to working as an assistant director in several films, Santhosh also served as an associate of Jeethu Joseph in Aadhi and Major Ravi in Karmayodha. As an actor, he is a familiar face in movies, frequently portraying Bengali characters in films such as Ann Mariya Kalippilaanu (his turning point), Anjaam Pathira, and the upcoming Eesho. He is also known for his viral short films Luttappi and Ottamooli, the latter starring Jeethu.
Santhosh is excited about his film releasing on Neestream, given the platform's popularity among Malayalis since the release of The Great Indian Kitchen. "Usually, to get a film released on a major Indian OTT platform, a filmmaker is expected to have a big banner or superstar backing him. So, showcasing a film of this scale on a platform like Neestream is a big deal for us," he concludes.