Subhash K Jha reviews Trance

Review of Trance: Powerful Ceiling-Shattering Content And Performances

Trance(Malayalam, Netflix)

Starring Fahadh Faasil as Viju Prasad / Pastor Joshua Carlton,Dileesh Pothan as Avarachan, Nazriya Nazim as Esther Lopez,Gautham Menon as Solomon Davis, Soubin Shahir as Mathew Varghese,Chemban Vinod Jose as Issac Thomas

Directed by Anwar Rasheed

Rating: ****

Given the current bleakness all around us, we have every reason to abhor this film on the evilest practice of organized religion that God NEVER invented.

Trance , the latest Malayalam film to prove Kerala’s supremacy in powerful ceiling-shattering content and performances, is a pioneering achievement, tearing as it does into the innards of fake religiosity where billions of bucks are generated by exploiting the weak and the vulnerable and where faith is forever flogged to death.

With a towering performance by Fahaad Faasil in the lead, Trance sweeps us into a world of depraved exploitation. Parts of the plot are purely pulp. But then what is wrong with pulp when it suits the narrative’s purposes so well?

The lengthy film of almost 3 hours, begins like a desi Rain Man with Fawad’s petty motivational-speaker character Viju Prasad looking after his psychologically disturbed suicidal brother(Sreenath Bhasi). It then veers viciously into a brown man’s version of Jane Campion’s Holy Smoke where Viju is trapped into doing a staged (fake) holy miracles.

The exploitation of religious sentiments earlier done half-heartedly in Hindi films like OMG and PK is stripped of all veneer of politeness. What we see is a group of avaricious power brokers setting up con-props for a world hungering for change.The villainous caucus(played by Tamil filmmaker Gautham Menon, Dileesh Pothan, Chemban Vinod Jose) lack finesse in characterization and portrayal. They could be a trio of villains in any film about crime and punishment.

It doesn’t take long for us to realize that the campy villains are seen to be part of the larger drama of grotesquerie that the sprawling plot systematically dismantles. Standing at the centre of the diabolic debris is Fahaad Faasil.Magnificently askew and offbeat,he sweeps all the jerkiness in the narration under the carpet making us look not at the faults(albeit glaring) but the larger picture of merchandised religiosity.

Nazriya Nazeem provides some romantic succour to the battered hero very late in the film. She comes in at a time when Viju now transformed to Pastor Joshua Carlton is plunging into the abyss. The last half an hour where the parody pastor must perform a holy miracle to wake up a dead child, reminded me of Dev Anand at the end of Guide.

Some miracles are just not destined to happen. Trance is not one of them.

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