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Trance Movie Review: Fahadh Fassil gives yet another brilliant performance in a bold film.

Modified On: 21 February 2020 | Reviewed By:

Anwar Rasheed is back in the direction department after 8 years and has given a bold and unique film that justifies it's titled Trance.


Director: Anwar Rasheed | Music Director: Jackson Vijayan

Trance Movie Poster

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Cast: Fahadh Faasil, Nazriya Nazim, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Soubin Shahir, Vinayakan

Directed By: Anwar Rasheed

As our country is obsessed with religion, Trance with his bold theme has come to question our national obsession.  The film, after all, is about a fake pastor, who is just a front for the business operations of corporates to mint money using faith as the driving force.

Viju Prasad (Fahadh), a down-on-his-luck motivational trainer runs from post to pillar to make his life work, amid also taking care of his younger brother. However, things take a dire turn and he is forced to move to Mumbai to get a new start. And at this despondent juncture, he gets an offer from two affluent men (Gautham Vasudev Menon and Chemban Vinod) to join them as a pastor of sorts. Their purpose is to mint money using faith as the front. After a crash course in theology, Viju takes on the identity of Pastor Joshua Carlton and his magnetic persona along with the orchestrated acts of miracles, fuels the curated brand image of a Messiah. But a stunt on live TV brings the entire operations under the scanner and the rest of the movie follows its impact on Joshua, his bosses, and his followers.

Fahadh Faasil, the actor who can convey much through every small gesture, easily transforms into both these characters in Trance, directed by Anwar Rasheed. Even as the film addresses a few grave realities, it has a certain hypnotic charm to it – the way Fahadh’s character is written, the way the lighting is used, the music shifts, and the pills that keep pouring out of mini bottles. Even the title track has psychedelic visuals and music. The title, therefore, fits beautifully. 

Anwar’s filmmaking keeps you engaged the entire first half during which a captivating story begins to unfold. The last half does not keep up to the first, scenes that you enjoyed earlier becoming stretched, almost like you took a pill yourself and everything seems to take too long. But it doesn’t let you down, with some excellent performances coming from a very promising cast – Fahadh, Chemban Vinod, Dileesh Pothan, Nazriya, Soubin Shahir, Vinayakan, Sreenath Bhasi and, in his first Malayalam performance, Tamil director Gautham Menon. 

Fahadh as a subdued Viju and the flamboyant Joshua is the maniacal energy that drives the film. He is charismatic as Joshua, and his character is a mirror image of some of the popular faith-healers around the world. Gautham Vasudev Menon, Dileesh Pothan as Joshua's advisor Avarachan and Soubin Shahir as TV journalist Mathew are the other three chief characters who bring the needed heft to balance Fahadh's performance. Fahadh has sure-shot potential to become a great actor in modern Malayalam cinema.

Nazriya's role as Esther Lopez is unlike anything she has done before. As the weed-smoking, alcohol-swilling girl, it's a clean breakaway from the bubbly, girl-next-door roles that she is usually associated with. Supporting acts from Chemban Vinod and Vinayakan keep the movie interesting.

Director Anwar gets the first half absolutely right in its pacing and content. However, the second half of the script, by Vincent Vadakkan, loses steam with the plot then almost reflecting Joshua's mindset in those scenes. The makers seem to have chosen style over substance in the latter half. The angle between Esther and Joshua also seemed force-fit and drags out what is an almost three-hour film. Vincent though gets points for highlighting the perils of hope that fake messiahs provide with an urban and stylish take on the relevant premise.

The main protagonist of the film is it's cinematographer Amal Neerad and hands down is his fine work to date especially in the scenes in Kanyakumari and Mumbai breathes an extra whiff of fresh air.

If you couldn’t take your eyes away for a moment in the first half, the second half stretches turn a tad repetitive and try to cover too many issues together. Misuse of religion, depression, drugs, suicide, mental health issues, it all begins to cloud your mind at one point, just as it does for some of the characters. 

Trance is yet another example of content-driven cinema from the Malayalam industry and it's great to watch.

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