Rating: 2.5/5 Stars (Two and half stars)
Star Cast: Ajay Devgn, Tabu, Shriya Saran, Rajat Kapoor
Director: Nishikant Kamat
What’s Good: Regurgitating a tried & tested template of a successful Malayalam film, Drishyam becomes a gripping, layered watch in it’s second half. Tabu is brilliant, & Rajat Kapoor complements her ably with a subtle act.
A riveting sequence in ‘Drishyam’ reminds one of the (lost) brilliance of Nishikant Kamath; when the police use strong arm tactics & blatant intimidation on a family of four to make them confess; raw & harrowing, this scene stands out for it’s impact in a barely above average narration.
What’s Bad: Patchy, forced humor that plays to the gallery strikes out of tune notes in a powerful script. The biggest flaw of ‘Drishyam’ is it’s unidirectional treatment- a story that hinges on the conflict of truth versus lie hardly ever evolves. It’s almost like the skeleton of a masterpiece has been hastily pulled out & cast for a populist product.
Secondly, Ajay Devgn comes across as surprisingly unfeeling in some scenes. But this flaw perhaps lies in the writing. It’s almost as if the character has not been given any dimensions, feelings & aspects of a real person.
Loo break: Yes, plenty of scope in the first half to do that!
‘Drishyam’ is the story of Vijay Salgaonkar (Ajay Devgn),a semi literate, self-employed cable operator in a small, picturesque town in Goa. He lives happily in a rather large & well-decorated house surrounded by a typical garden and an attractive wife. Father to two daughters, he loves watching movies all night & takes on local corrupt police officers sassily in verbal duels. He is fairly popular amidst local folk. Unfortunately, Vijay is also a bit crass, not above hinting at his libido over the dining table in the presence of his teenage daughter (Ishita Dutta).
Life takes a drastic turn when his teenage daughter & wife end up killing a young, lascivious boy who threatens them with universal shaming. Unfortunately, the boy turns out to be the son of Goa’s Inspector General, Meera Deshmukh (Tabu).
‘Drishyam’ focuses on the planned smart decimation of evidence by Vijay to protect his family; survival instincts honed to razor sharpness. The police chase, investigate & harass, even as the IG takes it upon herself to break this middle class, average man & his family. Their frustrations & edginess contrast well as Tabu, Rajat Kapoor & Ajay spark their common scenes with tension & emotion.
Eventually, the common man prevails; and surprisingly, isn’t shown to regret the unplanned death of a young man at all. Only in the penultimate scene, is a reiteration carried out of his justification.
With a deafeningly loud background score, and repeated reiterations of why,how and what (to explain and re explain the plot), by the penultimate scene, you only focus on the brightly lit, red EXIT sign.
Drishyam Review: Script Analysis
Based on a masterpiece, in which Mohanlal’s controlled, conflicted performance to director Jeethu Joseph’s edge of the seat treatment holds your attention throughout, ‘Drishyam’ in Hindi falters in it’s narration. No depths & layers are explored here. Dialogues remind you of TV serials (that’s how clichéd they are!). A patchy, unremarkable approach to a brilliant script, this film leaves you with a feeling of how much more it could have been!
As an adaptation of plot points, ‘Drishyam’ is perfect. But in adding range and fleshing out the film’s story, it’s patchy. Quite a few characters come across as cardboard cut outs.
Drishyam Review: Star Performance
Tabu steals the show here. She is intense, controlled & emotional in the right doses. Rajat Kapoor is subtle & convincing as her grieving, anxious husband. Ajay Devgn plays the family man in control pretty well, but you wonder where are the conflicts & contradictions that a man in his predicament would be in.
Drishyam Review: Music, Direction
I believe the weakest link of ‘Drishyam’ is it’s direction. In handling stellar material & a pitch perfect original script (by Jeethu Joseph), Nishikant has fared as average at best. Using clichés and reiterations so many times, the film’s core tension is diluted at way too many points.
Sameer Phaterpekar has managed a convincing, melancholic score; Dum Ghutta Hain by Rekha Bharadwaj & Rahat Fateh Ali Khan stands out in a consistent soundtrack.
Drishyam Review: The Last Word
For an engaging battle of wits, watch this film. The second half, thankfully a direct adaptation of the original, also draws you in as audience, making you think of right and wrong, justice & fairness. Also do catch it if you are an Ajay Devgn or Tabu fan. Otherwise, for those who like watching quality films on crime & passion, I would rather leave the decision to you.
Drishyam releases on 31st July, 2015.
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