Director Tanu Balak on Malayalam film ‘Cold Case’ starring Prithviraj Sukumaran

The film, an investigative, horror-thriller, drops on Amazon Prime this week

Investigative, horror-thriller Cold Case, starring Prithviraj Sukumaran, which drops on Amazon Prime on June 30, would be the actor’s first film to release on an OTT platform. The film is ad-filmmaker and cinematographer Tanu Balak’s first as director. As the release draws close, Tanu is happy. “I have done my best and the feedback from those who have seen it is positive,” he declares.

His last outing, for a film, was as cinematographer for Of The People in 2008. “I got busy making ad-films, hence the 13-year break,” he explains. He worked with scenarist Sreenath V Nath on the script during the lockdown, “Almost 80% of it was done during the pandemic.” It was shot over 45 days in November-December, 2020 in Thiruvananthapuram.

The team did not anticipate the second wave when they worked on the script as the situation seemed to be getting better. “Though it was written at the time of the pandemic, it doesn’t seem like it is based in the present period, because we didn’t think we would still be wearing masks and that the situation [COVID-19] would continue.” Excerpts from an interview:

How was it shooting in the situation?

When we charted the plan [for filming], we decided to first finish all indoor scenes. It was towards the end of the schedule that we ventured outside. Luckily, nothing [COVID-19 infection] happened and we were able to keep to the schedule of 45-odd days. Even when the shoot was in progress, we were careful — about staying at a hotel and not going home— so that even if something happened, others wouldn’t be infected.

What is ‘Cold Case’ about?

This is an investigative horror thriller. When we say horror, I mean there are scary parts but it is not a full-on horror film. Cold Case is a police officer’s investigation. Usually, such an investigative film will have a victim and there would be a culprit who would have to be found. But this film starts with looking for the identity of the victim and then solving the crime. There are supernatural elements in it too.

Tanu Balak | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Is this inspired by a real-life event?

No. This is fiction, any resemblance to a real incident is coincidental.

What piqued Prithviraj’s interest?

For him, the script is the main factor. He has to like it. Jomon T John [cinematographer], one of the producers, read and liked the script. He showed Prithviraj who, obviously, liked it. He is a star, but nothing of his character in the film [the cop, Sathyajith] ‘shows’ that aspect. There are no fights or stunts. He knew exactly what his role is — an investigating officer who solves a case using his intelligence. We show how an investigation would be carried out in the normal course.

Was the film intended for an OTT release?

The film was made for a ‘theatre experience’, that is not to say that if one watches it over an OTT platform it wouldn’t be there. If, for example, you watch it on a home theatre it would be almost similar. In a theatre space, the sound effects would enhance elements of horror.

However, this medium [OTT] has the advantage of reaching a larger audience. Especially since this film does not have ‘regional content’ like politics which a person from another region may not understand. It is independent of those references and so I believe it will reach everyone.

Your take on the horror-thriller genre.

It is a genre that some may like or not. But, on OTT platforms, thrillers and similar content have wide acceptance with 80% of the audience being ‘into’ it. That said, one has to be careful about how one approaches making it — it can go wrong also.

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