Too far-fetched, yet entertaining

After seven long years, the story of Drishyam starts off from exactly where its first part had concluded. The family of a middle class person who has a penchant for movies is again in trouble for whatever had happened seven years ago courtesy an accidental eye-witness and some chess like clandestine moves made by the cops who have not closed the case by labelling it as unresolved. The case file of killing of a teenager is still open in the police headquarters. This middle class (and low educated) man may still be categorized in the middle class but now his class is the upper middle class. He has earned enough money to graduate from a cable operator to a theatre-owner. And he has been planning to make a movie himself, discussing his story with a well-known screenplay writer for cinematic adaptation. He has got the story published also in the form of a book (apparently) for copyright protection. What are his real intentions ? Is he still concerned for the safety of his family (from the claws of the law of the land) ?

Well, to understand the things in the right perspective, we have to go in flash back, i.e., the story of the original (first) movie titled as Drishyam (scene) which had been released in Malayalam in 2013 and its various remakes in different languages were released in later years (all the versions filled the coffers of their makers like anything). Jeethu Joseph who had taken the credit of the story (calling it as his ‘original’) had only directed the Malayalam version. The truth of his so-called originality is that this story had been lifted by him from the novel of Keigo Higashino – ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’ which was first published in 2005. Anyway.

The Hindi version, i.e., Drishyam (2015) was directed by (Late) Nishikant Kamat in which the protagonist’s role was played by Ajay Devgan whose teenager daughter accidentally kills a spoiled teenager who was trying to blackmail her on the basis of a video of hers clandestinely shot by him. The dead boy was the son of a supercop Meera Deshmukh (Tabu) who is the Inspector General of Police of Goa (where the story is set, in Pondolem to be exact). Her businessman husband Mahesh (Rajat Kapoor) is a sensitive person but Meera is a ruthless cop as well as an aggrieved mother hell-bent upon seeking revenge from the killer. Now our hero named as Vijay Salgaonkar who is a less-educated person and fond of watching movies on small screen (as well as learning various things from them) has to dispose off the dead body in such a way and create such an alibi that himself alongwith his wife Nandini (Shriya Saran), elder daughter Anju (Ishita Dutta) who is actually the killer and younger daughter Anu (Mrunal Jadhav) remain uncaught by the scanner of the law-enforcers. And he successfully does it, checkmating the cops including the mother of the dead boy. Meera Deshmukh resigns from her job and the parents of the boy migrate to London, rendering a sigh of relief to Vijay.

Since this well-made movie was hugely successful on the box office, making its sequel made sense. Now a story was required to put Vijay and his family again in trouble due to the killing that had taken place years back and showing the protagonist emerging as triumphant in the end once again (because that kind of end only is desirable for the Indian audience who cannot withstand their hero to lose to anyone including the law of the land). Since Jeethu Joseph only has claimed the credit of the story directing the original Malayalam version himself only once again, the question that propped up in my mind whether he has lifted the basic grains for the story of this sequel also from somewhere. Well, neither I have been able to figure that out nor any known film reviewer (at least till now). Hence let’s give Jeethu Joseph the credit of the story which is more intriguing but less curious than its previous part because the novelty factor is missing. We don’t know the plan of Vijay to safeguard his family members from the law in this reopened murder case (which as we have been told somewhere in the movie, had never been fully closed by the police), however we are always aware that something is going on underneath his various activities apparently unrelated to this ‘case’ and in all probability, he is going to outwit the cops this time also. In the prequel, everything done by the protagonist (leading his family members also in that) was before the audience alongwith his purpose, still the curiosity factor was bigger. In this sequel, everything done by him has a hidden purpose which is revealed much later (in the ending reels only), still the audience is not very curious. That does not mean that the narrator has failed in entertaining the viewers. The movie is entertaining, no doubt. The thing is that a lot of time has been taken for the build-up and the real tension which keeps the audience hooked appears in the post-interval session of the movie only. The protagonist is relaxed (at least he appears to be so). And so do we.

The revived cat and mouse game between the cops and the hero picks up speed after interval with the cat having many faces including a new I.G. of Police (Akshaye Khanna), the ex I.G. of Police and the mother of the killed boy (I won’t term him as the victim because it was he who was victimizing the daughter of the protagonist) plus the suspended corrupt cop who has a score to settle with the hero with a few others whether in uniform or civil dress (i.e., undercover cops). The father of the dead boy is a sensitive (and sensible) person who wants to move on in life alongwith his wife and that’s why he requests Vijay for the remains of the dead body of his son for proper cremation. However the mother wants to find them out on her own (with the help of the police, of course) so as to throw Vijay and his family behind the bars and in the legal trap thereafter. How Vijay saves himself and his family forms the remaining part of the story whose climax tells us that everything done by him in the narrative (prior to the climax) had the same purpose because he was always expecting the case to be reopened with a new box of troubles for them. In the same vein, it tells us that even the bit characters those had appeared in the narrative at various places were linked to his complex scheme. I found his scheme (fully revealed in the end) as amusing but too far-fetched. Popular Hindi pulp fiction writer (Late) Ved Prakash Sharma used to present such too much complicated schemes formulated by the criminals in his novels. Vijay’s scheme reminded me of them.

New director Abhishek Pathak (as the director of the prequel Nishikant Kamat had passed away in 2020) has done his job well. However his job was not very difficult because he had to remake a Malayalam movie as it is without any kind of adaptation on the story aspect. He has changed only the milieu just like the prequel (changing the location from Kerala to Goa). However he has kept the length of this Hindi version shorter than the original which appears to be right considering the fact that now the Hindi movie audience of this era does not like too long movies. The fact that the hero and his family are able to live a posh life within a span of just a few years appears odd. Cinematographer Sudhir K. Chaudhary has captured the beauty of countryside Goa (not the happening areas) very well. Other technical aspects are also in order. Devi Sri Prasad has composed two good songs for the movie. All the same, it would have been better had the rap song which tells the essence of the story been kept in the movie and not played with the end credits rolling on the screen when the movie is over.

Since the cast of the prequel has been carried over to the sequel, the actors have only replayed their parts which was not very difficult for them. Ajay Devgan is no match for Mohanlal (the great Malayalam actor who has played the protagonist in the original version) but no doubt, he has excelled in his role (just like the prequel). His eyes speak and indicate the churning going on in the interiors of his outer cool and calm personality. Tabu is effective in her low footage role also as she appears to be like a lioness waiting to prey upon the killer (or the killers) of her progeny. Akshaye Khanna presents nothing new in his cop avatar. He appears to be the same cop played by him in some earlier films.

An esteemed film reviewer has rightly asserted that the story of Drishyam (including both the parts) has been liked by the audience so much because it’s been woven around Indian middle class morality which advocates protecting own family at all costs and which glamorizes the underdog and vilifies the privileged. Another esteemed reviewer has also rightly asserted that the success story of Drishyam underscores this fact that we prefer what we feel right to what is right. Well, I have to agree to these views in the absolute sense. The killing which forms the basis of the Drishyam story had (inadvertently) taken place in self-defense. However the protagonist does not consider the option of coming clean before the law and get his daughter acquitted from the murder charge on the basis of the self-defense plea. Instead he decides to play a hide and seek game with the law-enforcers. May be because the law enforcement agencies of Mera Bhaarat Mahaan, more often than not, indulge in harassing (and extorting) the underprivileged instead of ensuring justice to them.

The lesson of the movie is very clear – the question is not what is in front of your eyes but what you are seeing (that’s the real Drishyam or scene for you).

I agree to it.

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About Jitendra Mathur

A Chartered Accountant with literary passion and a fondness for fine arts
This entry was posted in Movie Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Too far-fetched, yet entertaining

  1. Intersting analysis. I think the indian audience has seen too many times law being moulded by high and mighty according to their needs. This has made them cynical about police and policemen. Would see this movie once it comes on ott. You have not been writing in Hindi now a days. When can we expect a hindi article by you. Would love to read that.

    • Hearty thanks Vikas Ji. I agree with you. I hope, you will like this movie whenever you are able to see it. I have written some articles in Hindi in the past couple of months. But yes, now my focus is on writing in English.

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