Cinephiles were taken aback when earlier this week the great Fahadh Faasil, considered one of the most accomplished actors of our country, made a dismissive comment on the power and reach of cinema.

Fahadh who is being praised to the skies for his new release Aavesham advised moviegoers to restrict their admiration for films and actors to the screen. “Think about me only as long as you are in the cinema. I don’t want people to talk about actors or their acting at the dinner table. Just discuss it in theaters or on the way back home. Cinema is not beyond this, it also has its limits. There is a lot more to do in your life than watching movies.”

Coming from an actor who breathes permanent life into every character he plays, this sounds like a repudiation of the very essence of his existence. What would Fahadh be without cinema, and what would cinema be without him? Fahadh’s wife too is an actor.Do they never discuss films while having dinner? What do they talk about? Padosan ki mausi?

The statement dismissing the reach and impact of cinema, probably made in the flow of unrehearsed conversation, is like the statutory warning on cigarette packets. You are condemning the very thing that you are selling.

We cineastes live for cinema, good bad or indifferent. A Fahadh Faasil performance is discussed long after the lights have dimmed.Can we imagine coming out of Guru Dutt’s Kagaz Ke Phool, Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anand, Shakti Samanta’s Amar Prem, David Lean’s Lawrence Of Arabia, or the new Fahadh Faasil mindbender Aavesham and forgetting about them ?

No! Cinema when made well, has infinite interpretations.

During an interview with me 2020 Fahadh had said, “I would like to think that actors create the freedom to do the work they believe in.This is how I feel at the moment.Two years from now I may feel differently.Once I am done with a film, I move on. I don’t know which of the characters I liked the most . But I’ll tell you something that happened once. In 2016 I had done a film called Maheshinte Prathikaaram.Two years ago when I was passing through the location where the film was shot I felt I knew his guy from this place . That said, I don’t internalize my characters.I’d rather have the audience than me owning my characters.”

What Fahadh acknowledged in the above confession was his inability to shrug off his characters, no matter how hard he tries. When he can’t leave his films behind, why should we?