Drishyam: Movie Review
In a hilly town in Goa, cable company owner Vijay Salgaonkar (Ajay Devgn) lives with his wife Nandini (Shriya Saran) and two daughters. Vijay loves his family to the core and can do anything for them as long as it does not involve (too much) money. Salgaonkar stays away from his family on most nights. The phone’s off the hook all night and there’s no way for his family to reach Vijay if there’s an emergency. No, there’s no paramour here. Vijay’s only liaison is with films. This ‘IVth fail’ orphan is loved by all the residents of the town, save a certain police officer Gaitonde (Kamlesh Sawant). Gaitonde’s corruptness meets a tough contender in Vijay’s straight-backed-ness, and the latter lets slip no opportunity to douse the former with vitriol.
In Vijay’s happy family life, there arrives a Sam. Stalker par excellence, and after Anju’s (Vijay’s elder daughter) happiness. A bizarre turn of events lands this Sam, the son of Inspector General Meera Deshmukh (Tabu), among the ‘missing’. The story takes numerous twists and turns, much like Goa’s serpentine roads, and finally, it reaches a climax. One, which leaves you with a ‘What the…’. Take it whichever way you want to.
Director Nishikant Kamat’s Hindi remake of the 2013 Malayalam Drishyam has many praiseworthy parts, and even more bleh-inducing ones. Touted as an edge-of-the-seat thriller, this Drishyam does take you to the edge of the seat occasionally, only to push you back to comfort. The film sees some classy acting by its two leads, Ajay Devgn and Tabu. While Ajay manages to convey his honest do-gooder well, Tabu’s shades-of-grey policewoman act is first-rate. On screen, the electric chemistry between the two is palpable to the hilt. But that’s hardly enough to redeem this Drishyam.
Shriya Saran is shrill in parts and horribly OTT in others. She tries to fit into the role of Vijay’s loving wife and doting mother to their children, but can’t make an impact. Among the film’s other pivots, Rajat Kapoor as Meera’s husband is a joy to watch. Ishita Dutta fizzles out in an unimpressive debut. She weeps at the drop of a hat, and while some of it is understandable; the rest, not. Kamlesh Sawant’s Gaitonde is good in the comic scenes, but tends to get on one’s nerves in his machismo-brandishing ones.
Jeethu Joseph’s story is fresh. However, the way it pans out spoils the game. Making a character crack a case in her mind and recite all its nitty-gritty, for example, feels forced. Drishyam’s near-three-hour runtime could have been reduced a LOT more. Aarif Sheikh’s scissors should have been sharper. Goa, from the rocky terrains to the quarries, has been captured well on film, thanks to Avinash Arun.
The film takes a lot of time to establish the story. At the end of the first half hour, you’re left teetering on the edge of your patience. And just when you are about to snap, wham! The turn of events draws you in into the story. The joy, however, is short-lived, as long-drawn sequences are used to portray the simplest of happenings. Just putting across the Salgaonkars’ sense of fear needs many minutes, a task which could have been accomplished in one-fourth that time. The boredom compels one to nitpick: A space in between ‘head’ and ‘quarters’ on the Police Headquarters’ signboard, for example, can’t be un-noticed.
At one point in Drishyam, Vijay sermonises that he ‘can do anything to save his family’. Makes one snort in disbelief. Yes, this is the same man who, to watch films uninterrupted, avoids taking calls from his family all night, come hell or high water.
Among Vishal Bhardwaj’s songs, Carbon Copy and Dum Ghutta Hai deserve a special mention.
In all, Drishyam squanders much of its potential, leaving one wondering what the film could have been, had it been executed well. Watch it if you have to, for Ajay and Tabu’s display of duelling willpowers.