Fahadh Faasil is back with yet another enthralling performance, this time in a tale that requires an actor of his caliber to let us see through the depths of an outwardly eccentric man. He holds the film to all of his capacity. He’s among the best leading men the country has at the moment. Not just for his range, which is inarguably wide, but also for the kind of roles he can grasp. It’s certainly hard to imagine this narrative without someone like him He can sell the extreme bottom of being an underdog and the zenith of a winner through his eyes alone.

This much awaited Anwar Rasheed project plays around with the fascinating one-liner of religion being a drug. A drug that is abused by those in power, except the effects here are seen only on the lesser privileged. For the rich, their power and clout are antidotes to this drug. This thread of social commentary begins on a note that is quite out there, with the suddenly hyped-up villains stating this theme explicitly with in-your-face dialogues. Viju Prasad meeting that woman after all those years in a foreign land feels like a miracle in itself, and the fact that she becomes the reason for him getting into peddling miracles is… trippy. There’s so much going for it at this point, The initial portions of the film proceed with powerful intrigue. I loved everything about the film until here. But the script simply stops scratching on this discovery after the interval. The mechanics of religious capitalism is shown at a very superficial level, and I wish the makers had gone into the “how” more. Introducing Esther as a saving angel to our protagonist is puzzling when his true redemption is actually coming from the character played by Vinayakan. Esther’s impact on Joshua is barely felt. The epilogue is an embarrassment for how it suddenly morphs the plot into a male saviour story. For all the heights in the narrative, the film ends on a very uninteresting note.

Very little is said post the midpoint while the film assumes it can put us in a trance with its visuals alone. And it did do that to me, quite well actually. Amal Neerad’s cinematography carries the film as much as Fahadh does. Neerad gets his own setpieces where he is the loudest element on screen. The macro shots are beautiful to look at, and are not just an exercise in vanity, because they draw you into Viju Prasad’s turmoiled state of mind. He’s dealing with a history of depression in his own family and all the miniscule cutaways to his past are stylized to look memorable. There’s also some great sound mixing work at play here, which may not particularly be inventive, but it does a great job of drawing us in. The technical work gone into the film is not pretentious, and the style truly earns its place in the film. But a string of those scripting contrivances pull this film down to disappointment zone. I really wanted to like this film. But sure, I would still go on to recommend it for its ambition.


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