Luck is everything. My good luck in life was to be a really frightened person. I’m fortunate to be a coward, to have a low threshold of fear, because a hero couldn’t make a good suspense film.
Stunning, gripping, edge-of-the-seat, shocking, engrossing… use any of these adjectives for this Ajay Devgn version of Drishyam, and you are spot on. There is just one caveat: DON’T compare it with the original in 2013 which had Mohan Lal.
Director Nishikant Kamat’s tale of a common man’s dilemma, courage and deceit could suffer in comparison with the original by Jeethu Joseph, it is still one film that will reinstate your faith in the suspense genre. If Kahaani was the last memorable mainstream Hindi suspense thriller you watched, then Drishyam will be a grand new entry to that list.
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Tabu, Shriya Saran, Ishita Dutta, Kamlesh Sawant
Director: Nishikant Kamat
The film is set in the Goan countryside where Vijay Salgaonkar (Ajay Devgn) lives with his wife Nandini (Shriya Saran) and daughters Anju (Ishita Dutta) and Anu (Mrinal). A school dropout, Vijay runs a cable business and is a hardcore film buff. A simpleton, films and TV shows are his reference to the world of educated people, but he’s not apologetic about it.
The good thing about Vijay is that Kamat clearly doesn’t try too hard to shape his character: he’s simple, but sharp as a razor at the same time. Vijay holding forth on Habeas Corpus (relief from unlawful detention) to a group of villagers is a masterstroke of characterization — you laugh at him because you know that his worldly wisdom is courtesy the small TV in his office, but, at the same time, he leaves you mightily impressed with him.
Our happy-go-lucky man is good at other things too: He is honest, and has a sharp tongue. The second quality pits him against a brutal, and corrupt, cop Lakshmikant Gaitonde (Kamlesh Sawant).
Vijay’s world is turned upside down when the only son of IG Meera Deshmukh (Tabu) goes missing and he’s made the prime suspect in the case. This is the point where Drishyam takes off and sets the tone for a gripping cat and mouse game between the system and a technically illiterate villager. And all through the struggle, you are not sure who’ll win in the end, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is where this film scores.
What Jeethu Joseph, also the writer of the original film, wants you to believe is a world of paradoxes where a couple makes fun of each other’s educational background without getting too serious about it. His Drishyam was set in Kerala, a premise portrayed as a collective society.
It was about a set of people who displayed the courage to take on the tyrant administrative agencies. Georgekutty (Mohanlal) represented the aspirations of a common man who is tired of corruption but wants to fight it without going off limits. So, this comes as a surprise when we meet Singham Devgn as a cable operator. But there begins the magic of cinematographer Avinash Arun who leads us slowly into the interiors of old Goa on the banks of Mandovi. Soon, initial apprehensions about Devgn’s legacy melts away and we see a character determined to present himself as an intelligent fellow against the perception of his immediate surroundings.
Kamat intrigues the audience with an abrupt event and then lures us into believing that everybody has got their priorities and they’re bound to fulfill them even if it costs them dearly. Beneath such a rhetorical exterior lies a story that thrives on smooth transitions and fine performances. This is not something like North By Northwest where the suspense instantly grows on you.
Drishyam initially appears as a regular catch-me-if-you-can kind of a thriller, but then it very strategically does away with the minor suspense plots and attaches strong motives to every primary character. As a result, all the concepts of wrong, right or being wronged culminate at a point where you can’t any longer sit in a corner and just watch the proceedings.
You’re not even over Vijay’s funny reaction on his wife’s tussle with high heels when tension engulfs you from all sides. In the beginning, you think Devgn’s trying too hard to fit into a common man’s shoes (He hasn’t done anything like it in a long time). But he rises with the story’s tempo. He shows his mettle just at the right juncture. He churns out his best in the scene where a police jeep enters his tastefully designed house. The lines of fear replace his nonchalant confidence in a split second and that in turn makes the audience anxious for the next twist.
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