A sequel comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities. The expectations set have to be at least reached or if possible surpassed. And when we are talking about the sequel for one of the biggest grossing movies in a particular industry, it is all the more, a new frontier.
We should talk a little about Drishyam which set the ball rolling upon its release in 2013 before going into the analysis of the second instalment. Made from a budget of fewer than 50 million Rupees, it collected around 750 million at the box office. The commercial success was also supplemented by the state and national level accolades. On top of this Drishyam was remade into other languages in India and even abroad. A suspenseful storyline was the key and what made it stand out even more was the social issue it addressed. Justice system in the country was looking helpless with the increasing number and intensity of crime against women. People all over were bringing families to watch the movie in theatres as if Georgekutty (Mohanlal’s character) had showed them what a single person was capable of when it came to protect his family. And he did not need to have superhuman abilities or powerful friends to pull this off. A slew of movies like Puthiya Niyamam(2016) followed which tried to sell the idea that you need to stand up for your family and not wait for the ineffective justice system to follow its course.
A sequel had to tread this delicate situation carefully. And by keeping the name as Drishyam 2, the writer / director Jeethu Joseph had taken the challenge head on with expectations reaching sky-high. Drishyam 2 starts with police chasing a murder suspect Jose (Ajith Koothattukulam) on the same night 6 years ago when Varun Prabhakar goes missing. Jose witnesses Georgekutty(Mohanlal) leaving the police station with a spade in his hand but soon gets caught and is sentenced to life imprisonment for murder. Six years from then, many changes have come about. Georgekutty has become the owner of a movie theatre, his younger daughter Anu (Esther Anil) is studying at a reputed residential school, the elder daughter Anju (Ansiba Hassan) still struggles from the occasional epileptic fits and his wife Rani (Meena) is a bundle of nerves. Most of the townspeople think that Georgekutty murdered Varun and has successfully disposed the body which has made it impossible for the police to proceed with any formal investigation. The protagonist meanwhile has aspirations of making a movie and is in constant touch with the film fraternity to pursue his dream. He though is mindful of how things could take a turn for the worse and has installed a CCTV camera from his cable TV office facing the police station in case anyone finds the remains of Varun’s body and link it all back to his family. Then we see that an IG (Inspector General) Thomas Bastin (Murali Gopy) has been continuing investigation discreetly with the resources available at his disposal. The inevitable happens and police come into possession of Varun’s remains and all hell breaks loose. From there Georgekutty starts all over again to defend his family. Suspenseful twists and turns lead to a grand climax which still leaves many questions unanswered.
There is a chemistry between Mohanlal and Meena in the first instalment which brings alive the subtle romance between a husband and wife. It was much appreciated at that time as it was uncommon. Sadly Drishyam 2 does not tread on such intimate moments. Though the script does not require major acting skills and drama, I felt the acting from Mohanlal looked a little rusty in places. It was evident mainly in the scene with the tea shop owner Sulaiman (Kozhikode Narayanan Nair) who also happens to be his most vocal sympathiser. Georgekutty’s main adversary here is the IG and Murali Gopy has given a restrained performance which helps keep the engaging tone of the movie in the second half. The children’s characters revolved around the antiques of a cynical teenager and a withdrawn trauma victim. These again did not call for much acting prowess. Restrain shown by characters was a commonality which is a stark departure from the original.
The script takes the driver’s seat and organically evolves from where it was left off 6 years ago. It assumes that everyone has already watched the first instalment, which is mostly true based on the success it garnered. I would attribute the initial slow pace to sensitise the viewer with how things have changed with the passage of time and lay the groundwork on which the rest of the events would be launched from. When in Drishyam it is Georgekutty who implants visuals and builds narrative of the timeline, in the sequel it is the IG Thomas Bastin who tries to build the timeline of the night on which Varun goes missing.
In most cases when the script refers to movie making itself, it is more for convenience rather than to support the narrative. But here it is an integral part of the storyline. A commoner distancing himself from the justice system stops from being thrilling and rather is portrayed as a way of life. Meena’s bundle-of-nerves role of the worrying mother and wife was slightly clichéd. But it gave the right kind of impetus to take Georgekutty’s plans off balance. It may look self-serving, but script writers are pictured as intelligent people as they look at all possible angles of a story before coming to the final version. As the same house is at the epicentre for Drishyam 2, cinematography needed to ensure the continuity. Satheesh Kurup the cinematographer does well here by using the right angles both indoors and outdoors. The suspense and building intensity were consistently captured.
The only song ‘Ore pakal’ (only one day) is a slow melody and reflects Meena’s state of mind. The strong bond within the family is picturized along with daily tribulations of living with a difficult past. Music and background score from Anil Johnson kept up with the pace and helped to build the suspense through to the climax. There are a lot of familiar faces who perform small roles. This in my opinion was to engage the viewers’ positive attention and make them feel good about the content. The same strategy has been successfully used for the movie Lucifer (2019).
Releasing on Amazon Prime was a good decision as the success is almost guaranteed. A decent movie, ongoing pandemic and word of mouth will ensure that the entire Malayali population around the world would see it. This should be sufficient to manage commercial success. And with the buzz this movie has been able to generate, the availability of English subtitles will bring it closer to a large non-Malayalam speaking audience who have had good past experiences from this industry.
Where Drishyam was a perfect single blow with a social issue covering all the bases, Drishyam 2 is more of an elaborate plunge into the workings of an intelligent mind trying to cover-up a crime. Images weaved by Jeethu Joseph continue to create compelling narratives of deception and I am sure the best is yet to come.