Cast: Fahadh Faasil, Mamta Mohandas, Manikandan Achary
How do we find the riches of life? In self-realisation? Or in fighting our fears? Or, is it when we turn the ashes of life to diamonds of success? As different as it is for each, Venu's Carbon definitely excites us to seek the treasures. Through a visually-enticing drama about a man's quest for wealth, the director takes us through the realms of the human psyche with utmost conviction.The protagonist is Sibi Sebastian (Fahadh Faasil), who doesn't mind taking vile routes to make easy bucks. He believes fantasy is the spice of life, and naturally, his dealings are in gems, barn owls and elephants. Sibi's career and dreams fail to take wings, following which he takes up the job of a caretaker of a dilapidated palace in a deep forest.
But, what hooks Sibi here is the story of the huge treasure that is hidden somewhere in the jungle. Soon, he sets out on a treasure hunt.
This journey is where director Venu's brilliance comes to the fore. Set in a mystical plane, his camera zooms into the deep jungles that have more mystery than wilderness. The untrodden paths Carbon takes us are devoid of cliches and the majestic jungle we see is nothing like we have seen before. Nature is in its dark mood, and wading through it is Sibi, restless and fierce, with a goal in mind.
In fact, it is Sibi's characterisation that gives Carbon a sharp edge. As someone stranded between dream and reality, Sibi's persona oscillates between that of a blind fortune-seeker and a skittish individual. His mind is caught in mystical and fantastical elements and the mahout-elephant scene reiterates that.
And, Fahadh does a commendable job of carrying off Sibi with ease and natural charm. The character tests his grip on the craft, and Fahadh is getting better each time. The complex expressions that he gives in the climax prove his mettle again. Mamta Mohandas and Manikandan Achary too do their roles well.
That said, Carbon ultimately belongs to Venu. It is how he adds layers of meaning, without seeming to, that sets him apart. That he puts forth the most philosophical and thought-provoking concept in such an engaging and simple format is an attestation of his talent. Carbon's strength is its crew: K U Mohanan's cinematography and Bina Paul's editing makes Carbon a great cinematic venture.
But then, there are flaws too. While the first half is about Sibi and the life around him, the more complex and crucial second-half threatens to lose pace many times. But, these minor short-comings don't really affect or hinder the open-ended climax.Carbon isn't really about cheap thrills. It is about a deep understanding of life. Nevertheless, it makes for an engaging watch, the most important criteria for a movie.