Fahadh Faasil on his latest film 'Trance', the response to Shammi from 'Kumbalangi Nights', and why the Kerala audience comes first

Fahadh Faasil in a scene from ‘Trance’

Fahadh Faasil in a scene from ‘Trance’   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The Malayalam actor, who also has 'Mailk' and 'Thankam' in the pipeline, says he takes constant and deliberate efforts to surprise the audience

With his riveting performances, Fahadh Faasil has proved to be a real game changer in Malayalam cinema. Be it the soft-spoken photographer from a high-range town in Maheshinte Prathikaram, the chain snatcher in Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, the Indian diplomat in Take Off, the psychotic Shammi in Kumbalangi Nights or Pastor Joshua Carlton with his ‘healing’ tricks in Trance, Fahadh steps into the characters with remarkable precision.

He will be seen next in Mahesh Narayanan’s Malik, set to release in April. Akhil Sathyan’s directorial début, Saheed Arafath’s Thankam, and possibly Zakariya’s next, for which the talks are going on, are some of his projects in the pipeline.

Fahadh has a sheepish smile on being asked to decode the secret behind his versatility during an interview. Edited excerpts.

Why did you take up the role in Trance?

Trance is about dependency, be it on drugs, religion or emotions. Religion has become a business these days. The film does not point fingers at who’s in the right and who’s in the wrong. What we are trying to say in Trance is that humanity and compassion come above religion. I liked that thread of thought.

How do you step into and out of the shoes of your characters?

I try not to be repetitive in the roles I do. I focus on the narrative. An actor’s job is to understand the narrative and shape the character accordingly. For instance, while shooting for Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, all I knew was that my character had turned a thief because of hunger.

Fahadh Faasil

Fahadh Faasil   | Photo Credit: Siril K Joy

My approach and the high that I get as an artiste is the same while I am doing a Njan Prakashan, a Trance or a Malik. Even while performing, I tell myself that I am Fahadh Faasil and not the character. When I am at the monitor to review a shot, I judge the character as a third person. Also, I make it a point to never take my characters back home.

When a shoot for a film takes long to complete, like it did in the case of Trance, how do you maintain the energy level of your character?

We decided to go ahead with Trance after a lot of discussions. It wasn’t possible to finish the shoot in one go. We divided the script into four chapters and decided to deal with them one after the other. I was given the freedom to do other films in between and to take time to get back into shape.

Malik is based on an incident that happened in a coastal town in Kerala...

Malik is the story about a man who stood up for others. That’s why I believe that the story has to be told. While many say that the incident that we talk about in the film was communal, it wasn’t. Although certain parts of the tale have been fictionalised, we have stuck close to the truth.

Are you tense or anxious while handling controversial subjects like those in Trance and Malik?

In India, anything to do with religion is sensitive. As an actor, I hold myself responsible when I am handling a sensitive subject. But the issue here is that they can hold me responsible but they can’t stop me from doing it. To be honest, I do think whether the subject I am doing is going to offend people’s sensibilities. But I kill such thoughts then and there. As an artiste, my job is to entertain people. I am not propagating any ideology or supporting any religious practice through my movies.

You work with your wife, Nazriya, in Trance.

The chemistry that we share in Trance is very different. She is in a never-seen-before role as Esther in the film. I enjoyed the way she handled her part.

Do you shape your characters or do you leave such nuances to the directors?

I usually let the director frame it for me. I keep asking them questions and they have always given me proper responses. I depend on them most of the time. I believe they know the film better than I do. I feel it is like a puzzle and you can’t do it all alone. You have to let others come in and help you fill in the blanks.

How important are the performances of your co-stars while you face the camera?

It is important. Of late, I have noticed that the new actors are so good that they are not conscious about the presence of the camera. I am the kind of actor who asks for retakes. So I don’t know how much I affect the rhythm of my co-actors (smiles).

What was it like to work in Tamil films Velaikkaran and Super Deluxe?

Both were really interesting experiences. For me, it goes without saying that I want to be part of every film made by (Super Deluxe director) Thiagarajan Kumararaja. However, I still maintain that it is difficult for me to work in a language that is not my mother tongue as I don’t think in that language. For that matter, even when working in my mother tongue (Malayalam), I am never satisfied with my work.

Do viewers expect something unconventional whenever you are on screen?

I don’t know. Do they? (laughs).See, I want my audience to be entertained and I really work hard for that. I am not really concerned about how it does at the box office or its reception outside Kerala or anything else. For me, it has to be accepted in Kerala in a way that gives me energy to move on to do my next. I take constant and deliberate efforts to surprise the audience by doing something new.

Were you surprised by the reactions of the viewers to any of your characters?

I was surprised at the way people reacted to Shammi from Kumbalangi Nights. I did not depict him as a good character. We turned him into a caricature. And while I may have been on his side while playing him, I do not think he is a good guy. I was, however, shocked when a certain group of people defended and justified him.

You are often seen teaming up with a certain group of people from the industry...

They know my limitations and what to extract from me as an actor. Having said that, if someone comes up to me with an exciting project, I am all for it. I will never let go of good films.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 1:56:39 PM |

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