Four years after she appeared in the Malayalam film Bangalore Days, Nazriya Nazim Fahadh will be back on the big screen with Koode later this month. The actress took a break after after marrying National Award Winning actor Fahadh Faasil in 2014 and Anjali Menon’s Koode is being touted as her comeback film. But Nazim-Fahadh is not keen on using that term. “I never really went away...I feel I’ve been there all along,” she told Scroll.in.
Though she’s only had two active years in the film industry, Nazim-Fahadh has a cult following among Malayalam movie goers. She’s a regular in gossip columns and is mobbed wherever she goes.
After starting out as a child actor in the Malayalam film Palunku (2006), Nazim-Fahadh anchored some television shows and played supporting roles in a few films in her teens. But it was the 2012 music album Yuvvh that got her noticed. Videos for the album, directed by Alphonse Puthren and starring Nazim-Fahadh and Nivin Pauly, became immensely popular. That paved the way for her first role as a leading actress in Revathy S Varmha’s Maad Daad in 2013. The actress went on to appear in several films that year – the dark comedy Neram, released in Malayalam and Tamil, for which she teamed up Pauly and Puthren again, and the Tamil films Raja Rani and Naiyaandi.
In 2014, she starred with Dulquer Salmaan in the Malayalam film Salalah Mobiles, which did poorly at the box office. But a few months on, she was back with two hits, Om Shanthi Oshaana and Bangalore Days. With an ensemble cast that also included Salmaan, Parvathy, Nithya Menon, Pauly, and Faasil as Nazim-Fahadh’s on-screen husband, Bangalore Days was a critical and commercial success.
Nazim-Fahadh reunites with Menon for Koode, which stars Prithviraj Sukumaran, Parvathy and Renjith and is scheduled to be released on July 13. Then, she turns producer with Amal Neerad’s Varathan, starring Faasil, which hits theatres later in the year. Excerpts from an interview.
You’re reportedly making a ‘comeback’ with ‘Koode’. Is it really a comeback though?
I got married to Fahadh in 2014. I decided to take a break and do what people do when they get married and set up a home. Fahadh also took a year long break when we wed. But no one noticed that! My break went on a little longer, I guess. The kind of response and messages I’m getting makes me feel I’d gone. But I never really went away. I’ve been very active on social media. I feel I’ve been there all along. I won the Kerala State award for best actress in 2015 for Om Shanthi Oshaana and Bangalore Days. In fact, Dulquer Salman keeps pulling my leg saying how long are you going to keep getting awards for Bangalore Days!
How’s it been working with Anjali Menon again in ‘Koode’ after ‘Bangalore Days’, considered one of the most successful Malayalam films of all time?
Koode is a family film about relationships, which is what Anjali does best. The film is about the good and the bad in families. I play Jenny, Prithviraj’s sister. I was a bit hesitant to work with him because I didn’t really know him off screen and in the film we’re meant to share this really close bond. I shared this concern with Anjali and she set up an iMessage group to help us all get to know each other. By the end, Prithviraj became like a brother in real life too.
You have a cult following amongst Malayalam cinema fans though you’ve been a lead actress for just about two years. How did that happen?
I don’t know how that’s happened. I keep telling everyone that I’m just very lucky. [The videos of] Yuvvh with Nivin Pauly and Alphonse Puthren went viral. I didn’t even imagine I’d be doing films. But the scene in Neram where Nivin proposes to me became a classic. I don’t think I act. But this is the thing – when I was doing films, that’s all I did. When I got married to Fahadh, being married is all I did. I was enjoying that phase of grocery shopping, travelling, buying stuff for the house.
You and Fahadh Faasil are now producing a film, ‘Varathan’. How’s that been so far?
Varathan will be out on Onam this year. Amal Neerad is directing the film and Fahadh is the hero. Amal and Fahadh worked on the period thriller Iyobinte Pusthakam in 2014. But producing is not an easy job. It’s been great producing the film. It’s my first time so I was more involved on the creative side. Being an actor is so much easier! When I’m acting, I just act. I don’t have to think about the filmmaking process. You act and you go away. But as a producer you have to keep the show running. I was always thinking about costumes and hairdressers and the whole unit.
How much of an input do you and your husband have in each other’s scripts and films?
We share each other’s scripts. We’ve both done different kinds of films in the past. But when we started working on our joint production Varathan together, the dynamic changed. We started talking about the kind of film we wanted to make. We talked and discussed and at times we had moments where we thought, “Wow! We think like this!”. But Fahadh doesn’t get involved in production when he is acting.
How do you and Fahadh spend your time when you’re both not working?
We love travelling, especially when it’s without planning! Sometimes we just say to each other, okay, let’s go for a drive. And we end up in Ooty. We also spend time with our friends. Or just sitting with each other.
What do you think of the #MeToo movement within the Malayalam film industry? Actresses have recently taken a stance against the gender bias...
It’s a good thing. People are beginning to talk. How actresses are treated in the industry should be talked about. Women who aspire to become actresses should have a prior knowledge of what they’re coming in to. An organisation like the Women in Cinema Collective which takes up issues that women in Malayalam cinema face, is timely.
What’s next? Are you going to be doing films for a while?
I am capable of sitting at home again. Fahadh keeps telling me to work. I’m sure I’ll be doing more if something interesting comes along. My break wasn’t a sacrifice. At the moment, I want Koode to be released and out there.