“What is life without a dose of fantasy?” asks Siby (Fahadh Faasil), the protagonist of Carbon , to his friend who makes fun of his crazy schemes. That line, perhaps, is the key to the entire narrative of the film, which often leaves you wondering whether what just happened was in the real world, or in the realm of fantasy.
Siby is a non-achiever for the society around him, and he is desperate to make amends. When we meet him, he is running behind one fraudulent scheme after another, to earn some quick buck. From trying to sell an emerald that is still not in his possession, to a sly attempt at selling a ‘Vellimoonga’ to planning a business deal around an elephant and even a plan to steal some government funds by importing cycles from China, he jumps from one failed plan to the next, even before he knew it has failed.
The fantasy elements start playing out even in these earlier lighter moments too, with a funny and creepy moment involving the elephant’s mahout. These elements appear more often in the latter parts, when the action shifts to the forest, where Siby gets caught in his grandest scheme yet – to dig out the gold abandoned in the forests during the Tipu’s era. Like, the appearance of spotted deers outside the forest cottage’s window, and the helper’s reference to the ‘Mareechan’ myth, or the needless song sequences involving Sameera (Mamta Mohandas).
In his third outing as a director, Venu had quite some expectations resting on him, owing to the brilliant Munnariyippu (2014). The writing in Carbon does not touch those levels. Somewhere, the balance between not revealing too much and appearing incoherent, gets tilted to the wrong side.
Through these phases, it is yet another blazing performance from Fahadh Faasil that keeps the film afloat. You are kept guessing as to which of the sequences happen in his head, and which happens for real. And, he pulls it off commendably, especially in the climactic sequences. Some of the other characters, especially Sameera’s, appear pretty sketchy, while those of Sphadikam George and Chetan Jayalal, were refreshing. The initial novelty of the exquisitely-shot jungle sequences wears off after a point.
The big reveal in the climax can be sensed from a distance, yet, it appears a tad too underwhelming when it is actually executed on screen. Carbon is enjoyable in parts, but it could have been much more.