Director Anwar Rasheed on 'Trance' and the characters played by Fahadh Faasil, Nazriya and Gautham Menon

Fahadh Faasil and Gautham Menon in a still from ‘Trance’   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Success has been Anwar Rasheed’s constant companion, as director and producer. Now, he returns to direction after a six-year gap with Trance, which he has produced as well. As the Fahadh Faasil-starrer is set to release this Valentine’s Day, February 14, Anwar talks to MetroPlus about the movie, his approach to filmmaking and how Malayalam cinema has evolved.

What is Trance about?

Trance is described as a particular state of mind. It is usually associated with music. But in this movie, it applies to a different context and person. The film is about Viju Prasad, a low-key motivational trainer based in Kanyakumari, played by Fahadh. The narrative follows his growth, mental and emotional, at different phases of his life.

The audience is excited about the first outing of Fahadh and Nazriya on screen after their marriage...

Although we’ve had several celebrity couples in Malayalam cinema, none have acted together after their marriage. So Fahadh and Nazriya are an exception. We have brought in a different chemistry between the two. Nazriya’s character, Esther Lopez, will be different, unlike the bubbly and vivacious roles that she has played so far.

Anwar Rasheed

Anwar Rasheed   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

How did you zero in on the story?

This is the début film of our scenarist, Vincent Vadakkan, an ad-man. I was supposed to direct his story for 5 Sundarikal. But that had to be dropped because I couldn’t get the right cast. Later, when he came up with the story of Trance, I was not in a position to commit myself to the cinema because of the huge production cost involved. However, I had finalised Fahadh as the protagonist then itself. It so happened that Fahadh heard the story from Vincent and he asked me to rethink about it. The storyline had changed and Fahadh’s career was also on a high. By then, I was confident about producing it and that’s how the project started rolling.

Expectations are high with people like Resul Pookutty and Amal Neerad working in the film?

I didn’t want to compromise on anything. Sound is integral to the story, especially to create certain trance-like situations. For that, I needed the best person out there. The movie is shot in sync sound, which is not common with big commercial ventures. And I needed Amal’s craft for the movie. If it were possible, I would have worked with just him in all my movies. But that has happened only in Aami’ [from 5 Sundarikal]. Perhaps, I am the only person who has seen his best works, like his diploma film. There is more to Amal than the stylish frames that viewers generally talk about.

Anwar Rasheed with Amal Neerad on the sets of ‘Trance’

Anwar Rasheed with Amal Neerad on the sets of ‘Trance’   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Why were you missing in action for over six years?

I make movies at my own pace. I can’t make back-to-back projects since it takes a long time for a film to get out of my system! In fact, I am more comfortable producing films. Direction involves a lot of tension. You are making something of your own, whereas in production, someone else is doing that for you! I enjoy being a producer because that brings totality to a filmmaker and teaches a lot of things. I get a complete picture of the industry. It is exciting to see other directors at work. I am lucky to have associated with the best in the field and it was exciting to learn new approaches to filmmaking, as in the case of Alphonse Puthren and Soubin (Shahir).

How would you evaluate changes in the Malayalam cinema after your début?

Films have become more realistic. The taste of the audience has also changed. There was a phase when many in the audience used to hoot on seeing emotional scenes on the screen. Now they don’t do that. Also, the present-day audience is appreciative of lags in scenes if that helps the situation, whereas, till a few years ago, many directors considered it risky to have such sequences. I am also in awe of how certain directors choose and train their actors. All said and done, Trance is not a realistic film. It is a drama that will entertain the audience.

Short takes
  • Anwar has directed Rajamanickyam, Annan Thambi, Chotta Mumbai and Ustad Hotel and the segments in the portmanteau films, Kerala Cafe and 5 Sundarikal — ‘Bridge’ and ‘Aami’ respectively. He was the co-producer of Bangalore Days and Parava and his individual productions are Premam and Valiyaperunnal.
  • Trance has Soubin Shahir, Vinayakan, Sreenath Bhasi, Dileesh Pothen, Chemban Vinod Jose and Jinu Joseph in the cast. Tamil director Gautham Menon plays villain.
  • Music is by Jackson Vijayan, composer Rex Vijayan’s brother. Sneha Khanwalkar, best known for her compositions in Gangs of Wasseypur, has sung the title track, ‘Raat’, a Hindi-Malayalam number. Actor Vinayakan has composed a track. Soubin, who acts as a mediaperson, has crooned a song, ‘Ennalum Mathayi

That’s what you did in your first three movies, all of them mass entertainers. But you surprised your audience with ‘Bridge’ in Kerala Cafe. So which is your kind of cinema?

I enjoy watching masala entertainers but hadn’t planned to make one. I had another project in mind for Mammookka [Mammootty]. But that didn’t work out. I was desperate to make a movie and Rajamanickyam came out of the blue. Annan Thambi and Chotta Mumbai too were of the same mould because I was expected to repeat the genre. When I made a hit with Mammootty, I had to make one with Mohanlal as well, although I wanted to do another subject with him. Comedy, suspense, sentiments and action — that was the general formula for a pot-boiler and I had to stick to that.

It took some time for me to get out of it and ‘Bridge’ came as a breather. The producer (Ranjith) told me that I could choose any subject and any actor, provided I work within the limited budget. I couldn’t have asked for more! However, I can’t pinpoint what my kind of cinema is. Because, things always pan out differently from what you have envisaged after sessions with the scenarist, cinematographer and musician.

Having worked with the two superstars of Malayalam, how do you perceive the new generation of actors?

Mammootty and Mohanlal will remain superstars, but the superstar era is over. That doesn’t mean the new actors are not talented enough. Each of them are superstars in their own way. The superstardom of the two Ms had much to do with the fact that the audience were in awe of them. People knew them only through their characters whereas now the audience knows every actor from close quarters, thanks to social media. They get to see how these actors are in real life, how they would react to a particular situation and treat them like a member of the family. So they no longer treat these actors act as superstars.

Malayalam cinema is going through a bright phase. But is there a change that you would like to see?

Several young, intelligent and talented youngsters have made a mark in direction and acting. I want that to happen in film production, distribution and theatre ownerships as well because, at present, there are a few individuals who control the reins and consider themselves to be carrying forward the legacy of Malayalam cinema.

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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 4:48:00 AM |

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