A sparked up Fahadh Faasil saves Trance

The best thing about ‘Trance’ is obviously Fahadh Faasil’s fantastic performance. Though Faasil gets trapped into his usual histrionics, the street smartness he tries to exhibit in his movies but feels unreal, the actor
comes into form in the scenes where he is shown to take control of his life…
_ Aamir

Alert: Spoilers ahead

Anwar Rasheed has made a movie after a gap of seven years. His last release, ‘Ustad Hotel’ (2012) was a huge success and strengthened the trend of ‘new generation’ in Malayalam film industry. Rasheed had dabbled into production post-Ustad Hotel, making films like ‘Bangalore Days’ (2014) and ‘Premam’ (2015).

The much awaited ‘Trance’ is no less than Anwar Rasheed reinventing himself. When we look at his filmography, we can see the director taking sharp turns in his choice of scripts. Making his debut with the monumental blockbuster called ‘Rajamanikyam’ (2005) and continuing the winning streak with ‘Chotta Mumbai’ (2007) and ‘Annan Thambi’ (2008), Rasheed found himself a new path with ‘Aami’, a short in the anthology film, ‘Anchu Sundarikal’ (2013).

Coming to ‘Trance’, the film is about the reckless path life has laid out for Viju Prasad, a motivational speaker from Kanyakumari. The movie travels through his evolution from a small town-self-made loner to a multi-million con empire’s icon called Joshua Carlton.

Viju’s mind, or his struggle to keep a ‘sane’ track to success, is befuddled with the trauma of multiple suicides in his family. Sreenath Bhasi, playing Kunjan, Viju’s brother, has a fantastic screen time. He plays the younger brother with a messed up mind who finds it hard to keep up with the discrepancies of life, often crossing the lines of sanity, turning violent and finally traveling to another world as he couldn’t figure out the meaning of this reality, like many of us. His death propels Viju into a state of limbo with him leaving his hometown and escaping to Mumbai, trying to clutch whatever he could find as a last resort before he falls into the abyss his past has left him in.

In a turn of events, a coincidence which I really hoped Rasheed hadn’t used as a trope, Viju runs into an acquaintance, who in turn introduces him to Gautham Vasudev Menon’s character and Isaac Thomas (Chemban Vinod Jose). He agrees to change himself into a high-spirited pastor for the multi-million con enterprise floated by the two. Avarachan (Dileesh Pothan) christens him Joshua Carlton and teaches him the basics of faith healing and how to make the big bucks.

The film follows Viju and his trauma firing him up to an end which is predictable and self-destructive.

The best thing about ‘Trance’ is Fahadh Faasil’s fantastic performance. Though Faasil gets trapped in his usual histrionics- the street smartness he tries to exhibit in some his movies like ‘Oru Indian Pranayakadha’, ‘Carbon’ – the actor comes into form in scenes where he is shown to take control of his life.

Rasheed’s direction goes stellar in moments but immediately the graph drops as he goes on to use tropes of Malayalam cinema. The scenes where he shows Faasil removing knives and other ‘violent’ things from the kitchen were enough to show Kunjan had a history of violence. The director goes on to show a flashback to establish the violence Viju had to endure from Kunjan. This is still fine. I’m just saying that for Rasheed, this wasn’t necessary. He can afford to be more subtle, controlled and pull better risks. Also, the fact that Viju and his brother do not speak in the Kanyakumari accent comes as a surprise since Rasheed’s first movie ‘Rajamanikyam’s high point was Mammootty delivering his dialogues in the Thiruvananthapuram slang.

The film itself is a huge risk for the director. Calling out the fraudulent god-men and women of our society and especially the Christian faith healers through the film was a bold step. At the same time, apart from the brilliant portrayal of mass hysteria during the healing sessions, the film lacks novelty.

While Fahadh goes absolutely reckless (he probably had fun shooting those scenes) and embodies the transcending mind on psychotropic drugs added with the pain and trauma, the movie uses very weak narratives like those of Vinayakan’s to bring a populist end to the story.

Moving in a linear narrative, ‘Trance’ does engage the viewers. Jackson Vijayan’s music is peppy and often alludes to House music but at certain points I wished he had toned it down a bit.

Thanks to sequences which are heavily subjective and the cinematography by Amal Neerad, the movie scores well above the mediocre mainstream films we have to suffer, but is a let down as far as an Anwar Rasheed movie is concerned. Also starring (in extended cameos) are Nazriya Nazim Fahadh, Soubin Shahir, Joju George, Dharmajan Bolgatty and Srinda.

Rating : 3/5

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