Movie Review 'Drishyam': Not a whodunit murder mystery

Published Jul 31, 2015, 3:54 am IST
Updated Mar 28, 2019, 9:01 am IST
Director: Nishikant Kamat
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Tabu, Shriya Saran
Rating: ***
A remake is a double-edged sword— it gives you an opportunity to trim the excess fat from the original but at the same time, makes comparison inevitable. In case of Nishikant Kamath’s Drishyam, the original (by the same name in Malayalam starring Mohanlal) was so critically acclaimed that it automatically raised ones expectations — ours too. So given the expectations we went with, we were a little underwhelmed. So here’s a tip — don’t let the original’s reviews colour your expectations.
Drishyam at the outset isn’t a whodunit murder mystery. Instead, it adopts the ‘that’s how it’s done’ cover up story and in ways, imbibes its tagline — visuals can be deceptive —because unlike what you’re led to believe, the film isn’t a thriller through and through. The first half is a wishy-washy family drama trying to establish the character of the Salgaonkar family and it’s patriarch Vijay (Ajay Devgn). A chauthi-class fail (we emphasize the academic credentials only because the filmmakers couldn’t stress on it enough themselves), Vijay is a penny-pinching local cable operator who lives and breathes movies. A passion that serves him well when it comes to covering up a dirty track left behind by a freak mishap encountered by his family that includes two daughters and a dolled up wife (Shriya Saran) who shows no signs of the middle-class background her husband speaks of. Unfortunately for the Salgaonkars, associated with the mishap in more ways than one is the cold-blooded IGP Meera Deshmukh (Tabu). It involves her missing son. The latter half revolves around a common man’s resolve to protect his family and a fiery khaki-clad mother’s unwavering determination to nail the culprit and her son’s perpetrator.
Despite having a slow start, the film picks up in the second half. Throughout the film, the writer Jeethu Joseph gives you an impression of being an accomplice in Salgaonkar’s master cover-up plan, until you realise that you aren’t. That you’ve been fooled, just like the cops. The film loosely borrows from a Kahaani-style of narrative where the plot unfolds in retrospect and has you confused as opposed to gripped for a small portion of the film, until the director breaks it down for you to see the larger picture.
The core of the story is undoubtedly interesting, but the treatment could’ve been crisper, sharper. The film boasts of some very beautiful shots capturing Goa’s bountiful green covers. The songs however, are unnecessary interludes and the background music is overly dramatic. So much so that you’d be led to see a glimpse of Bajirao Singham as the simple Salgaonkar (who by the way has no trace of Maharashtrian accent or mannerisms) walks across the screen. The lack of Maharashtrian touch applies to the Shriya as well. Tabu however, delivers a powerful performance, successfully portraying the hapless mother under the garb of a tough cookie cop. Another actor who deserves a mention here is Kamlesh Sawant who plays inspector Gaitonde. Sawant plays a corrupt officer depicting mannerisms that are very close to cops we may have seen in real life. It’s difficult to believe that he never served as a police officer.
Drishyam isn’t an edge-of-the-seat thriller. In fact, it is one that makes you sit back and think.