Decoding Fahad Faasil starrer Trance - The 2020 Malayalam thriller now streaming on Prime
After a lukewarm reception at the box office, the Malayalam movie Trance hit the OTT platform Amazon Prime last week, and is slowly generating discussions among movie buffs, with theories flooding social media. However, it has also been met with a lot of flak for an exhausted screenplay which makes it lose steam.
Trance asks us to imagine a kaleidoscopic world, the broken claustrophobic glass pieces in it try hard to form beautiful patterns, twisting and turning. The constant shuffling tires the glass pieces and makes them seek solace in psychotropic drugs, until they come across something much more powerful which does not come with any statutory warning: Religion.
The movie starts with Viju (played by Fahadh Faasil), a hard-working motivator trying to battle his fears every day by being positive and confident. The director makes it clear that the protagonist is able to manage his thoughts when he gives guidance to Kavitha in an elevator, an euphemism for claustrophobia. Ironically, the downfall of Viju starts after he is referred to some businessmen by Kavitha for a job, as parallels are drawn between the 1999 Hollywood film The Matrix to depict the portrayal of choice as an illusion in this world.
The small-time motivator Viju turns into a godman, where he uses religion as a tool to propagate enforced ideals onto the public.
One particular scene which stands out is when Pastor JC narrates a story of a farmer’s donkey stuck in a well. The people believed it was his owner who motivated and helped him to come out of the well but in fact, it was the donkey’s own struggle. Parallels are drawn to Thomas, who belongs to the poor working class, lost in the ideals of the pastor. He realises that he has been fooled and takes up the sickle, his weapon of survival, emphasizing a battle between the proletariat and the bourgeois, with the pastor and Thomas both coming out of the spell.
Religion is seen as an opiate here, with a reference to Karl Marx. Viju’s loss of his family is triggered by these businessmen, who use faith as a tool. Looking through a macroscope, the filmmakers do not directly attack the idea of religion, but how it is controlled by capitalism to lure broken society. This can be justified by how the pastor goes into a bad trip and falls out of touch with reality.
Esther refers to Mary Magdalene and also the independent women in our judgemental society who are cast as outlaws. Even though the character is not as fleshed out as it should be, the script successfully portrays the way women are treated similarly to religion, as a tool. The climax can be seen as the anger, frustration, and helplessness of a woman trying to break free of the shackles of the masculine system we grow up in.
On the whole, Anwar Rasheed tries to weave too many threads into a plot that has a timespan of 3 hours, which can only be deciphered through multiple watches. The technical part is perfection, from the lighting to the props used, which also includes a recreation of the iconic mirror shot from the 1997 movie Contact. The second part of the screenplay was indeed highly inconsistent, but it can be seen as a premeditated approach to take the viewers on a high. After all, highs, just like life, have their lows.