Why do people watch movies? The general answer would be for entertainment. But when the entertainment quotient meanders to cheap slapstick comedy, mindless violence and skin show, you get the kind of cinema you are watching today. Great films are born, when a film director takes it upon himself to add something extra which compels the viewers to use their brain to comprehend the movie. Trance, the Malayalam movie directed by Anwar Rasheed falls exactly into that genre. The movie deals with a subject which very few people dare to take on these days, religion. It takes you through the story of Viju prasad, who is a struggling motivational trainer in Kanyakumari. Viju has a troubled past and an younger brother who is mentally unwell. The motivational speaker is turned into a pastor by two corporate guys (Gautham Menon & Chemban Vinod) who know how to sell religion to gullible and blind devotees.
Viju prasad is renamed as Joshua Carlton and the gift of the gab he possesses is turned to lure devotees. Viju rises to the top and earns millions for the company that is formed just to mint cash in the name of religion. The ensuing differences between Viju Prasad and his sponsors unfold as the movie progresses.
The fist half is stunning and hard hitting. The second half of the movie is supposedly the imagination of the lead character. The movie is open to many interpretations. You are kept guessing, whether the second half is real or just the imagination of the protagonist who is in a state of coma after fatally attacked by his sponsors’. The director throws slight hints here and there without revealing things and that itself shows the calibre of the movie. I do not recollect any movie in recent years, which has an open ending like Trance and subject to so many interpretations. It is an indication of the maturity level our film makers are reaching.
The movie is stunning and hard hitting and the best one released so far this year in India. It is India’s answer to Quentin Tarantino. It is swift and fast and touches the real issue of exploiting people in the name of religion although It could rub some people in the wrong way. That is the precise reason why it has got a mixed review from the press.
Fahad Fazil has delivered a stunning performance as the pastor. His troubled past, dealing with a mentally unwell sibling, stunning transformation as the pastor, struggles to maintain the bubble going, the repentance and the downfall, Fahad has delivered it with stunning conviction. It is the kind of performance you have not witnessed from a lead actor for a long time. Nazria plays the role with ease. Other notable performance come from Dilesh Pothan (Avarachan) who trains Viju to become a successful preacher. Performance of Soubin Shahir, otherwise a reliable actor and one of the faces of agents of change in Malyalam film industry, is disappointing. He needs to improve his diction and dialogue delivery while doing roles out of his comfort zone. Similarly, Chemban Vinod could not match up to the role of a corporate Honcho. Gautam Menon’s does not bring anything new to the role of a typical villain. Magnificent camera work by Amal Neerad further adds to the quality of the movie. The sound design by Resul Pookutty and the background score by Sushin Shyam is of international standard.
Finally all credit goes to the director Anwar Rasheed who dared to think differently and chose to walk on a path less travelled. We certainly need more films like Trance which addresses the real issues and questions the society as a whole.