Trance reflects a lot of the qualities of its tormented lead character Viju Prasad (Fahadh Faasil), a motivational speaker trying to catch a break. When an opportunity presents itself, he takes it, without considering the future ramifications. The folks sitting at the other end of the table belong to a clandestine organisation planning to use religion as a drug to control the masses, and they want to know if Viju, an atheist, can become their fake messiah. But being a messiah can be a bit... tricky, and so is making a film about one.
One can sense in the film so much anger towards godmen/false prophets, which comes out through the electrifying performance of its leading man. Viju, now rechristened Pastor Joshua Carlton (because Jesus Christ has the same initials), carries the same manic energy as other flawed motivational speakers such as the ones played by Tom Cruise in Magnolia, Paul Dano in There Will Be Blood, or Burt Lancaster in Elmer Gantry. They have the off-screen and on-screen audience in their grip.
Viju is not a character that something Fahadh has done before, but you can see minute traces of some of his earlier roles here and there. He is capable of redemption, regardless of the quagmire he gets into. There is so much about him to make you root for him—his tragic past, to begin with. Being born to a family that lost some of its members to depression, Viju’s pain and reluctance to become another victim is very convincing. So when he decides to work for the aforementioned organisation as their puppet—a puppet who makes a truckload of money— you buy his motivation.
Anwar Rasheed, cinematographer Amal Neerad, editor Praveen Prabhakar, and composers Sushin Shyam-Jackson Vijayan keep us hooked by delivering a film that feels part-dream, part-nightmare. However, post-interval, you begin to sense the film losing some of the potency established in the first half. It can be attributed to the logical flaws pertaining to the secondary characters played by Nazriya Nazim, Vinayakan, and Soubin Shahir.
It’s also difficult to take seriously a ‘dangerous’ organisation—its top men played by Gautham Vasudev Menon, Chemban Vinod Jose, and Dileesh Pothan—who wants you to believe that they’ve got eyes and ears everywhere, but later makes you wonder if they’re really as powerful as they say they are considering how events transpire in the third act. If they’re really in the shadows, how is it that some characters are easily able to gain access to them?
But then one should be asking if a film of a near-psychedelic nature should be watched for its logic or the emotional journey of its characters. If you’re going for the latter, as I did, then you may overlook such shortcomings. It also depends on how you consume your cinema. If you are into films with a slightly eccentric touch, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the overall audio-visual experience. However, one question still remains: Was the two-year hype really justified?
Director: Anwar Rasheed
Cast: Fahadh Faasil, Nazriya Nazim, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Dileesh Pothan