There was an air of inevitability about Fahad Fazil winning the State award for the best actor. It seemed a question of only when, not if.

He is a rare talent. Fahad’s second coming came at the right time in Malayalam cinema, when a slew of new faces, both in front of and behind the camera, broke through. It is interesting to note that one of the films that fetched him the award was directed by the man who sowed the seeds for the changes in Malayalam cinema, Syamaprasad, with ‘Ritu’.

Fahad was astonishing in ‘Artist’, even by the high standard he has set for himself. As a temperamental, self-centred painter, he gave one of the finest performances by an actor in Malayalam cinema in recent time. Some of the sequences he did, after the character goes blind, were so subtly portrayed that you became convinced that the film would not probably have worked with a lesser actor.

Just a couple of weeks after the release of ‘Artist’ came ‘North 24 Kaatham’. As a young man grappling with a psychological issue, Fahad was flawless. His father Fazil, who has directed just about every talented actor of our time, once told this writer that one of the things that he most liked about Fahad was the way he used his entire body for acting, not just his face. ‘North 24 Kaatham’ is a case in point.

‘Artist’ and ‘North 24 Kaatham’ were not just the two films that showcased Fahad’s histrionic skills last year. There was this superb effort in ‘Anchu Sundarikal’, for instance. In ‘Aami’, a segment in the anthology of five short films, he brought to life the varied emotions of a young businessman while driving his car on an eventful night. It is through his acting that the viewer sees the loving wife, who is actually shown only in the final scene.

Then there was ‘Immanuel’, in which he essayed the role of a ruthless executive. He also impressed as the rustic lover boy in ‘Amen’ and as the young politician in ‘Red Wine’.

Fahad has claimed a place among the finest actors of Malayalam cinema in a short period of time. Yes, he had made a forgettable debut way back in 2002, ‘Kaiyethum Doorath’. But his second film came after seven years – ‘Kerala Café’, a portmanteau film produced by Ranjith.

He starred in ‘Mrithyunjayam’, which was not by any stretch of imagination among the best of the 10 short films in it.

It was an entirely different young man we saw in it, almost unrecognisable from his first film. Gone was his moustache, which had seemed too big for him at the time, and he even sported a new name; he had made his debut as Shanu.

It was with ‘Chaappa Kurishu’, released in 2011, that he came on his own. He in fact won the State Award for the Second Best Actor for that film and ‘Akam’.

Over the last couple of years, he hit the bull’s eye almost on every occasion, as he showed an uncanny knack to pick the right film. And he was a delight to watch in well-written roles, such as in ‘Annayum Rasoolum’, in which he was given a performance that many felt would have won him the State Award last year. Seems he was destined to win his maiden Best Actor award for an even greater performance.

Keywords: Fahad Fazil