Drishyam is like a steam engine that runs out of steam right before it is about to reach the destination. Enough tension is built, a few thrills are thrown in between but the finale is rather underwhelming and somewhat predictable. The fact that I could pre-empt Nishikant Kamat’s ‘ace in the pack’ well 15-20 minutes before the climax, left me with a bad taste in the mouth.
Drishyam arrives in theaters this weekend with a huge baggage on its back. The film is a remake of a much-acclaimed and commercially successful Malayalam film with the same name that starred Mohanlal. It was subsequently remade in other three Dravidian languages – Tamil (with the legendary Kamal Hassan in lead), Telugu and Kannada. Also, I am told that the original story of the film (credited to Jeethu Joseph, who also directed the original Malayalam version) is actually inspired from a Japanese thriller, The Devotion of Suspect X. So, if you closely look at it, Drishyam is actually an ‘Inception’ of remakes – remakes of remakes and that too featuring some actors of great caliber. So, the makers did show some guts when they decided to remake the film in Hindi.
The film traces the life of Vijay Salgaonkar (Ajay Devgn), an ordinary cable TV network owner in a Goa village, and his family comprising of his wife Nandini (Shriya Saran) and two daughters. We are repeatedly told Vijay is a 4th grade dropout and an orphan. We are also frequently reminded that Vijay is a movie buff and watches films in his office almost every other night. Also, whenever he watches a Sunny Leone film, he quickly heads back home to be with his wife. Hmm!
In fact, the first half of the film tries a bit too hard to ‘establish’ the character of Vijay for us. You are almost forced to memorize that Vijay is a miserly man but he also loves his family. He is fond of hanging out at a local café and does not have a great equation with a local corrupt policeman. In between all this groundwork for the supposed master cover-up that surfaces later in the film, we are also exposed to a freak accident cum crime that Vijay and his family must cover up. Frankly, the circumstances that lead to the crime seem too juvenile to be true and the family’s way of dealing with it is outlandish to say the least.
Despite its conveniences and ordinariness, Drishyam’s first half does have some tense moments that ignite the hope for a riveting second half. The entire sequence where Vijay disposes off a crucial evidence of crime is fascinating and the overall mood is nicely pepped up by an excellent background score (Sameer Phatarpekar). Right before the interval, IG Meera Deshmukh (Tabu) makes an entrance and the stage is set for a promising cat and mouse game.
The second half does have some thrills and a few well-executed sequences. The sequence where IG Meera and officer Gaitonde (Kamlesh Sawant) threaten and beat up Vijay and his family is impactful and chilling. But the eventual finale is a big letdown in terms of impact and compactness. After a long drawn chessboard game between the police and Vijay’s family, the ‘revelation’ at the end does not excite. I obviously cannot divulge much details about the climax but there are ample loose ends which leave you unsatisfied.
Also, Drishyam is undone by a unidimensional style of storytelling and treatment. You know the answer to that coveted question – whodunit, all along. The twists and turns in between the narrative do not match up to the hype or tension that film promises through its premise and background score. IG Meera’s and the entire police department’s virtual surrender in front of the ‘visuals’ shown by Vijay is unfathomable. They know it all along, move in the right direction, dig up all the right evidences and suddenly give up on the suspected culprits. Strange!
In the acting department, Ajay Devgn is his usual brooding and glaring self. There are occasions where he looks uninterested, especially in the stretched and length second half. Tabu is caught in the cauldron of playing a tough cop and a sobbing mother. She does a better job of the later and her endeavor to project herself as a super cop does not create much impact. Shriya Saran as Ajay Devgn’s wife emotes pretty well and there are some scenes where you can almost feel the fear in her eyes. Rajat Kapoor, who plays Tabu’s husband, makes an impact with his restrained and calculated performance.
Drishyam is simply not the film that thrills, excites or surprises you. It is lethargic, lengthy and unidimensional. I have not seen any of its other remakes or the alleged Japanese inspiration, but I do have certain reservations even with the otherwise ‘acclaimed’ and supposedly ‘mind blowing’ story of the film.
Nishikant Kamat’s Mumbai Meri Jaan and Force were way more enjoyable and thrilling. Drishyam is simply disappointing.
Rating: ** (Average)