Drishyam Movie Review

Friday, July 31, 2015
Drishyam is an exotic dish that might simmer for over 2 hours 40 minutes, but Jeetu Joseph's story has the most lip-smacking recipe of a delicious thriller. After crawling for the entire first half of its runtime, it puts on the speedy wheels on the narrative which doesn't look back once it picks pace. Nishikant Kamat uses his smarts to adapt to pan-India sensibility but has remained largely faithful to Joseph's story. If you have watched Papanasam and Drishyam in Malayalam, Kamat's film doesn't alter much but is more nimble, crisper and is very sharply cut.
Joseph's story is never a whodunit. It's always about how it is done. And, it is done darn well for sure! Perfectly toned, never overdramatic, the film doesn't use the regular clich├ęs to keep you hooked. This unpredictability of Drishyam, is its biggest win.

Vijay Salgaonkar lives a regular middle-class life in a small village in Goa. Watching movies, making Sunday trips to Panaji with family, is his routine life and Salgaonkars prefer it boring. Their sublime existence is disrupted by a miscreant who is killed accidentally. The deceased turns out to be the son of Goa's Inspector General of Police. Life is mayhem as the khakhi-clad mother tears the town apart to hunt down her son. But for Vijay, his prerogative is protecting his family. As the chauthi-fail man leaps to any lengths for it, Drishyam becomes a chase-game where the one who outsmarts the other wins.
The film is beautifully shot with picturesque locales of Goa lighting up frames. The camera movements have the drama of a thriller but the film avoids stock formulas to get attention. That definitely isn't the idea Kamat subscribes to. Early on in the film, Vijay who is a movie-buff dismisses a rightly sketched action scene as rubbish because it uses sounds to create drama when nothing that great is happening on screen. The idea of using noise to depict something is a mind-game, which is furthered in the film when Vijay takes a cue from the same ideology in creating the day of the mishap. The day's recreation is crafted so neatly that one must applaud Joseph on his adept writing.
Not many films will compel you the way Drishyam does. It keeps you guessing, never letting the fun of it run out. Sriram Raghavan's Johnny Gaddar was the last film of the same genre that had the same drift. This film is a welcome breather after years for those who relish films that demand you to jolt your gray matter.
Once the second hour of the film strikes, you are so enamored by what unspools on screen that you include yourself in the guessing. But the story doesn't allow you to rise above being a mere spectator, by keeping its wits higher than you can imagine. It is not often that a cine goer in this country is able to muster up that level of inclination or involvement for a story but this film achieves that.
The only problem with the film is its length. At 160 minutes, it is far too long and unnecessarily so. The narrative wastes too much time in setting ground for drama. Kamat's agenda to show how much Vijay loves his family could easily have been curtailed. There are superfluous love-making references, Sunny Leone jokes to lighten the tense mood. Drishyam is better off without such distractions. Its tension is its forte.
Unlike most thrillers, Drishyam's unpredictability never gets mundane. There are negligible slips in the screenplay which is why Kamat holds on to his film unwaveringly.
With due credit given to the story, a large part of this film is about its actors. Tabu and Ajay who return together on screen after 17 years are top notch players. There is a sense of ordinariness in the way they carry themselves. Ajay's brooding grit is matched by Tabu's confident canter. They are Bollywood's two most gifted performers who are pitted against each other. There is gravitas, panache and immediacy in both their performances, bringing out correctly the desperate situation they are embroiled in. The characterisation is flesh-and-blood real and the casting is even better. Drishyam wouldn't have its striking edginess without the right blend of both. Tabu with her ruthless face and Ajay with his unbreakable intensity reign. The scene where Tabu is introduced from behind a shadow is enough to convey that roles have been reversed. Its the infallible lady Singham at job.
The climax is the film's pinnacle and when the last scene plays out, you won't miss whistling to Ajay's Singham moves. With this Devgn ensures his fans know that he is still capable making them hoot minus the blaring music, gravity-defying stunts and aata-majhi-satakli-punchlines. For those who had signed him off after Action Jackson, Devgn will ensure you rise and applaud in the final scene here. He got his swag intact, sans stunts, letting his eyes do the talking.
Drishyam is nifty and is all about the nail-bitingness that edge-of-the-seat stuff are made of.
We give this luminous film a 80% .

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