Fahadh Faasil, the actor par excellence, has been the brightest silver lining of the lockdown for the Indian cinephile audience. For an actor who has a majestic oeuvre of performances, including C U Soon, Irul and Joji released in the lockdown, how does one select one favourite performance? Do you go with the digital sleuth in C U Soon, considering the technicality of performing in front of a screen without the presence of co-actors to play off? Or the conniving son in Joji? The toxically masculine Shammi with an outwardly good-boy façade in Kumbalangi Nights or the thief with an unreliable back story in Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum?
I would pick Trance as my favourite Fahadh Faasil performance. The movie offers him the widest range and the actor in him revels in the opportunity. There are multiple layers to his character. At the base lies Viju Prasad – the man beaten down by life and its challenges, who suffers from the childhood trauma of a mother who committed suicide. He is low on confidence, almost at the bottom of the pyramid, but with a desperation to climb high on the social ladder. Then there is the small-time motivational speaker Viju. Before he steps out to work every day to instil confidence in his clients, he needs to motivate himself, like an actor rehearsing his lines without actually believing in them or having the confidence to pull those off in front of his students.
He is in fact running a hustle on the side with a mask. A mask that comes apart post his brother’s death. This petty hustler’s path soon intersects with the oldest con in the world and thus begins his transition to Pastor Joshua Carlton. Joshua Carlton is another designer mask held together with a drug-induced glue. Joshua becomes the personification of confidence. He still does his mirror-speaking before his address, but now the bleakness in the eyes has turned to glee. The forced smile has turned into an acerbic smirk. Yet one thing remains constant: his lack of belief in the motivational speeches of his past or the religious sermons of his present. Post a ‘resurrection’ midway into the film, he temporarily takes on another role: that of pretending to be cuckoo.
As his character goes from serving platitudes in the form of motivational speeches to peddling the biggest drug in the world, there is a character arc that sees him go from subtle to theatrical. While Fahadh has always proven himself as a great actor in parts requiring him to underplay – speak less and emote more – as the pastor addressing large congregations, he has scenes that need him to be loud and over-the-top. Even those are pulled off with conviction. While his audiences within the movie go into a trance listening to his character’s sermons, the audience watching Fahadh the actor on screen is also bound to be mesmerised with this wide range of character traits rolled into a single protagonist.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.