Who are you? There are three versions of that question: what others think you are, what you think you are and who you really are. In Carbon, we learn about Sibi (Fahadh Faasil) through others first. His parents are in search of him. He has left home without informing and his phone has been switched off for a few days. His close friends have no idea where he is in and they request his parents not to go to the police to file a complaint as they believe that Sibi is in possession of a Diamond which is worth about 20-30 lakhs. Sibi, on the other hand, is trying to cut a deal with a businessman who is interested in diamonds. When questioned to show the diamond, he shows a photo on his cellphone. That is when you realize that he is neither working nor dealing in illegal things. He knows the man who possesses the emerald but he is not that man himself. You also realize that he might have been the one to start the rumor (that he possesses a precious stone which he is trying to make a fortune of) himself in his town. Still, he ends up making a quick buck as commission to connect the owner and the businessman.
Carbon (2018) Review
Sibi is ambitious but he has not found a smart way to achieve them yet. He floats along the course life takes him, be it selling the emerald or selling an elephant but nothing turns out to be groundbreaking as he imagines to be. He is not a crook who tries to deceive people either. But that does not mean he knows how to tactfully deal with people or money. These put his family in problematic situations. He lives in the benevolence of his friends. One of his friends, in whose house he stays for a while, asks him as to why he has not settled. That is when we come to know Sibi’s philosophy. He believes the world thrives on poverty and the poor strive hard to make the rich obese. He dreams of hitting the lottery. He is mildly pitiful of himself that none of his plans has worked thus far but that does not mean he would stop fuelling his ambitions. He does not want to sweat and toil for another man’s wallet to get fatter. He believes that he would make his fantasies come true.
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Finally, he gets an opportunity from the same businessman he tried to cut the emerald deal with. He is assigned to assess the property located in the middle of a forest to see if it is worth being refurbished and converted into a tourist hub. Once he meets the caretaker (Kochu Premam) there, he learns about a mythical legend of a hidden treasure. He learns as to how a group of 101 tribal folks carried gold as ordered by the King fearing an attack by the Tipu Sultan Army. But the group of tribal folks was not found again and the gold was missing too. It was believed that they were protecting the gold as spirits in Thalakanni, the place they were believed to be.
On the other side, we see Sameera (Mamta Mohandas), an independent woman who is more of a forest junkie and coming to stay in the deserted mansion for a few days to be with the wild. Sibi senses an opportunity and along with Sameera, sets out on a mission to find the mythical place to check for the Gold. They take the help of a couple of local folks for the trek.
Whether Sibi will realize the dream or succumb to the spirits that guard the gold is the story. At one place, Sameera reminds Sibi of Paulo Coelho’s best-selling novel, The Alchemist. The novel, fable-like in structure, tells the story of a young shepherd in pursuit of gold. He goes all around the world only to find that the gold was in the very place where he had recurrent dreams of finding gold. Venu’s Carbon, in that way, takes the same journey as the novel. He makes us question whether the weight of the struggle and the worth of your dream add up to the value of the treasure you may find.
What makes the film engaging is Fahadh Faasil. I am tempted to say it is realistic but Fahadh Faasil is such a phenomenal actor to watch on screen with perhaps, only Irrfan Khan, among the current set of actors capable of matching him with every expression. While the character he essays in Carbon does have parallels with the unnamed character in Dileesh Pothan’s classic Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, Fahadh brings in layers to the character. The subtle nuances he brings to his eyes and body language are so delightful to watch that it is not an exaggeration to say that he mesmerizes you. He reminds one of Toshiro Mifune, the great Japanese actor who acted in several classics directed by the legendary filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa. In an age where mediocrity is appreciated, Fahadh sleepwalks into this role with such nonchalance that it makes you question what other actors are trying to do. He is a Director’s dream and a cinema lover’s delight.
Venu laces the film with comic dialogues and makes the adventure a riveting watch but this film could have aspired to reach more instead of settling for a little lesser. The songs by Vishal Bhardwaj fail to impress but the background score by Bijibal coupled with K U Mohanan’s cinematography enhance the beauty of the film. Soubin Shahir plays a creepy mahout but provides the necessary laughs while Vijayaraghavan, Nedumudi Venu, and Dileesh Pothan play their cameo roles to perfection.
“Carbon: Ashes And Diamonds” is all about the transition stage when the caterpillar is about to transform into a sprightly butterfly, ready to take flight and realize its dreams.