Drishyam (2015)

Recently I watched two films Bahubali and Drishyam. Of which I am reviewing Drishyam here, simply due to the exemption in quality of cinema. In this age of information, the thrill of discovering a movie inside the creeping darkness of the theatre, is almost gone.

The trailers and the numerous interviews reveal almost all details about the movie. But this was not the case with Drishyam. I went into the theatre only knowing the movie to be a thriller. The trailers revealed almost nothing about what the movie was going to offer. I tried to watch the original Malayalam (at the time I only knew of the Malayalam version, now I know that the story has been remade in Kannada, Telugu & Tamil), but could not due to the language barrier.

But anyways, I will strongly advise you this: go in to watch Drishyam knowing as little as you can about the film. In fact, you might want to stop reading this review right now. I will try, nevertheless, to reveal as little of the plot as I can.

Nishikant Kamat, director of the terrific Marathi film Dombivli Fast and the mediocre Bollywood film Force, helms this Hindi version and seldom deviates from the original blueprint, which is a good thing for the most part.

Devgan stars as Vijay Salgaocar, a semi literate, self-employed cable operator in a small, picturesque town in Goa, with his wife (Shriya Saran) and two young daughters. Theirs is a happy unit, even if Daddy would rather spend his time watching movies in the small office he owns than take them to the city for shopping outings.

Early on we get a sense of Vijay’s ordinary life: the modest restaurant he eats at, the regular folks that are his friends, the local cable TV business he runs, a corrupt cop he often locks horns with, the practical knowledge he’s acquired from his obsessive love of films, and repeated reminders that he couldn’t even clear fourth class in school.

Drishyam focuses on the smart plan devised by Vijay to protect his family; survival instincts honed to razor sharpness. The police chase, investigate & harass, even as the IG (Tabu) 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.

The film’s second half becomes a little brisk, but so strong is the plot of Drishyam that very little of this ultimately matters. You’re riveted as the drama unfolds, even if you may have guessed one or both of the delicious twists in the final act.

It helps that Kamat has a trio of dependable actors in key roles. Kamlesh Sawant is appropriately despicable as Inspector Gaitonde, the vengeful cop who revels in the violence he is encouraged to inflict on Vijay’s family. Ajay Devgan, in a part that offers no scope for showy histrionics, is nicely understated as the desperate parent who must constantly think on his feet.

But the film belongs unquestionably to Tabu, she is intense, controlled & emotional in the right doses. Never reducing the role to a stereotype, she brings multiple layers to a complex character, evoking both contempt and ultimately sympathy through a carefully nuanced performance.

If you want to enjoy an evening with a intense thriller, Drishyam, with its refreshingly original screenplay and its many moments of tension, is just that.

I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for Nishikant Kamat’s Drishyam. Forget evreything you just read and go watch the movie.