Thrillers as a genre have had a weak and suspect repute in mainstream Bollywood. The transformation is perhaps restricted to the remakes of cinema from Kerala.The Drishyam franchisee in the first spell was indeed with good reason well received and appreciated both by the audience for which it was originally meant and then the larger audience that was fortunate to view it in their own familiar terrain. While the original is based on a Japanese novel: The Devotion of Suspect X full marks to Jeethu Joseph who played imaginatively with the inherited characters and their earlier trauma by weaving a tale ahead. Taut and straight with no familiar pot holes. The film in its present avatar pays due respects to Nishikant Kamat the award-winning film maker who unfortunately died young. This time in-charge of the delivery is Abhishek Pathak who stays true to the script and has the vision to do away with the needless frills of songs and needless drama. In a time span of about 140 minutes, give or take a couple, he revisits the Salgaonkar family even as the police haunt and taunt them again.
In a quick recall for those who have lost touch with the 2014 outing he recalls how the son of a high-ranking police officer Meera Deshmukh (Tabu) is killed by members of the Salgaonkar family largely in self-defense. Hunted by the police, the family head Vijay (Ajay Devgn) hides the body and walks out to freedom in the absence of substantial proof of the murder. The sight of hiding the corpse, at the site of a police station under construction was the interesting twist in the tale.
The film takes off from just there with a chance eye witness in David (Sidharth Bodke). A new IG of Police Tarun Ahlawat (Akshay Khanna - a faded version of the talented actor) returns to the scene of crime with a resolve to expose the criminal. Stern and precise he recruits members of the old team including erring Inspector Lakshmikant Gaitonde(Kamlesh Sawant) and Vinayak Sawant (Yogesh Soman). Also returning into the lives of the victims(?) are Meera Deshmukh (Tabu) and her spouse (Rajat Kapoor) who surely are waiting from different perspectives who find the truth. While the former seeks to avenge the death of her son, the latter just wants the ashes to give the tragedy a quietus.
The entire thriller is kick started when the couple walk in as informers in Jenny and David (Neha Joshi and Sidharth Bodke). The twist to the tale and the manner of the narrative is largely built around the new unrevealed and unexpected twist that Vijay Salgaonkar(Ajay Devgn) now a theatre owner gives to the buried corpse and whether law catches up with the accused.
The interesting part of the entire film is that it deals with a slice of life scenario without having to take sides. Neither are the police portrayed as villains (an easy temptation given the background) nor are the members of the family conveying a story of its own by Sudhir Chaudary wins by being projected as hard-core killers or hapless victims. The story achieves a fine and proper balance that is crucial to the film . As the rap in the final moments of the film declares: it is about perceptions. Not so much about being judgmental. While a part of the credit for the Drishyam saga could be robbed by the fact that it is inspired from elsewhere, this time round the entire credit of the interesting twist must go to Jeethu Joseph for the imaginative story and to Aamil Keeyan Khan who joins the director in staying true with the screenplay and restricting the running time to just over two hours.
Seen from a critical angle the viewer may be a tad disappointed with the length of the role given to seasoned actors like Tabu and Rajat Kapoor, but it is commitment to the script and not to the stars on board that wins the filmmakers favour and exactly why the film ends up being genuine. Worth mentioning cinematography of Goa at its best wins the film a few more credits.
Apart from Director Abhishek Patnaik it is an Ajay Devgn film. What could have been an interesting clash between him and Akshay Khanna turns out to be visibly tilted in favour of in form Ajay Devgn and a completely out of form Akshay who fails even in the classic scene loaded in his favour when he visits the Salgaonkar family and interacts with Nandini (Shreya the wife) and the two daughters Anju (Ishita Dutta) and Anu (Mrunal Jadhav) who are very plain and insipid in their performances. Thankfully they do not have much script space.
Drishyam 2 is an interesting carry forward from the original and makes for interesting viewing. Good thrillers are rare to come by. It is now for the viewer to make good use of the opportunity....