I am a believer, but I am against corporatisation of spirituality, says Vincent Vadakkan, scenarist of ‘Trance’

Fahadh Faasil in ‘Trance’

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

The débutante says that the film is as much about people who corrupt religion as it is about familial bonds

“The struggle to get here was real. I felt overwhelmed when it finally happened.” That’s how Vincent Vadakkan looks at his foray into cinema as a scenarist with Anwar Rasheed’s Trance, leaving behind his career in the advertisement industry. “There was a dream team on board my debut project — Anwar sir, Fahadh Faasil, Nazriya Nazim, Amal Neerad, Resul Pookkutty, Gautham Menon.... The canvas turned out to be much bigger than I had imagined,” says Vincent.

Trance is a bold take on merchants of faith who build empires using religion as a foundation; it is about ‘faith healers’ and miracle workers. Vincent says he is a believer but he is against corporatisation of spirituality.

He also views that there is more to the film than just talking about people being exploited in the name of their faith. “It is also about family and relationships. The protagonist, although a motivational speaker, goes into depression because of the turmoils in his personal life and it’s in that situation that he takes up the offer to become a ‘god man’,” says Vincent.

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So what gave him the confidence to switch over to cinema? “I could tell a story in 30 seconds for a commercial and that made me think about the big picture. I believe in persistence. Even if you are talented, if you are not persistent, you can never get what you want,” observes Vincent, currently based in Bengaluru.

The Kochi-native says he has been a film buff from childhood. He did theatre as well until he got busy with his corporate job. “I have associated with playwright and theatre director Abhishek Majumdar and I had shared with him my desire to write. He told me, ‘You write’. So my first synopsis ran into four pages,” he says.

Vincent Vadakkan

Vincent Vadakkan   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

It was cinematographer Littil Swayamp who introduced him to Anwar. “I was meant to work with Anwar sir in the 5 Sundarikal anthology. But that portion had to be dropped because we didn’t get the perfect cast,” says Vincent.

Calling himself “a self-taught scriptwriter”, Vincent points out that he learnt about screenplays and the format from YouTube videos. “One work that fascinated me was Fargo,” he adds.

The thread of Trance was with him for many years and the narrative underwent some changes later on. The inspiration came from several quarters. “I have had some personal experiences. Some family members and friends also shared instances with me. In order to understand the psyche of these pastors, I watched a lot of videos as well. The investigative documentary, A Question of Miracles, which deals with televangelism and faith healing, was another reference point,” he says.

Fahadh was the only actor he had in mind for the role of Viju Prasad, who turns into Pastor Joshua Carlton. “It is not based on any real-life character,” says Vincent, adding that they had pastors on location to guide the team in various scenes. “We were careful because it is a sensitive subject and we were expecting backlash. One of the pastors helped Fahadh to understand the body language and voice modulation when he makes his first speech as a pastor,” Vincent says.

Fahadh Faasil in a still from ‘Trance’

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

The writer avers that not all pastors are fake. “I know many who consider it a service to help people. They pray, don’t claim to do miracles and never stop people from consulting a doctor,” he explains.

With bouquets and brickbats coming in for the film, Vincent has taken everything in his stride. “Some said that it was brave of us to have taken the theme whereas others are unhappy about how the story progressed towards the climax. There are even theories doing the rounds that Esther (Nazriya’s character) was just a hallucination. Everyone is entitled to their opinion,” says Vincent.

A huge fan of the works of scenarist Aaron Sorkin, Vincent, a graduate in applied art from Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bengaluru, is now writing dialogues for a bilingual thriller.

Any plans of directing a movie? “No, I want to act. My stint in theatre had to be cut short because of my job,” he signs off.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 4:50:22 AM |

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