Director: Jeethu Joseph
Cast: Mohanlal, Meena, Ansiba Hassan, Esther Anil, Murali Gopi, Siddique, Asha Sharreth
There might be spoilers
Director Jeethu Joseph has returned to his favourite turf, the insides of a middle-class family. Even Drishyam, the biggest commercial success in his career which is regarded as one of the best crime-dramas India has produced, is primarily a domestic drama, about a close-knitted family that works together to cover up a crime they were forced to commit. A sequel to Drishyam was always in the offing. It’s a fascinating idea﹣an investigation into the aftermath of a crime that went unpunished. There is a lot of guilt, trauma and grudges lying scattered in the story’s backyard.
Jeethu’s style of filmmaking doesn’t appear vastly different from what it was in Drishyam. He continues to set up scenes flatly like a television soap, offering nothing much to look at in every frame. In many places, there is a glaring mismatch between action and reaction shots. The background score is acutely stagey. Although, there are some apparent novelties this time, like the use of handheld shots.
But for Jeethu, the aesthetics of his film has never been a concern. Here, he plugs the holes in filmmaking using a compelling screenplay that begins at a low point and steadily gains momentum. The story is solid, about a state’s police force going all out to tear into one man’s ingenious scheme. On a different level, it is also about a family’s incredible will to survive.
Jeethu doesn’t shy away from amplifying tension to a disturbing level by taking the central conflict to the edge. He nails the police procedural part of the narrative. Some of the supporting characters get impressive scenes and story-arcs.
George Kutty, who has vowed to take a pitch-dark secret to his grave to save his family even at the cost of his peace of mind, is on slippery ground. He is pressed under the weight of his responsibility to protect his family from the hands of the law. But this time, he doesn’t have much to fall back on as the village folk has turned hostile. They passively participate in the police’s harassment of the family and spread scandals.
Jeethu doesn’t set the film up like a mass entertainer. He doesn’t let the sequel be weighed down by the massive success of Drishyam. After an opening sequence which starts from where the first movie ended, George Kutty makes his re-entry, so unceremoniously, as a family man. He is a movie theatre owner and an aspiring movie producer. The scenes set in the household are smooth, despite an excess of expository dialogue and ill-fitting wig of the actors.
You learn about the seven years. Anju (Ansiba Hassan) has turned into a recluse. Rani (Meena) is perennially worried and lonely. A new police officer, Thomas (Murali Gopi), has taken over the case, albeit secretly, to avenge the humiliation his colleagues had undergone. There are some unrealistic elements in the police investigation. For one, you see man coolly recollecting a minor incident from seven years ago. But it is easy to ignore these errors for there is a lot else to pay close attention to. There is no explanation as to why many people cannot recognise George Kutty, the face of a sensational criminal case.
Mohanlal delivers a compelling performance as a man who flits between plain and obscure, who can effortlessly slip into the cloak of a schemer or a victim in a split-second. He finds a fantastic rival in Murali Gopi, who brings to the fore not just the coldness of the law but the myriad human emotions that come to play in a crime investigation. Meena and Ansiba, who get meatier roles than in the first film, are excellent too.
But the real star is Jeethu who, despite his limitations as a filmmaker, creates an intrinsic narrative landscape. He recognises George Kutty as an exceptional storyteller. An illusionist who has a talent for keeping his audience on edge until the end. He thinks of himself as the hero who is always destined to win at the end of a movie. In the intriguing climax, the big revelation happens in a conference room like a script-narrating session, away from the courtroom where the real drama unfolds.
However, Drishyam 2 isn’t a unidimensional affair that cheers for the hero. In its brilliant final image, you see the dichotomy between the heroic image one might typically associate with George Kutty and the reality where he is just a powerless man.
The film explores how crime and punishment are looked at by the law and theology. Dr Prabhakar (Siddique), the father of the murdered boy, doesn’t ask for much. He is looking for a spiritual closure, unlike his wife Geetha (Asha Sharreth), the prime antagonist in Drishyam, who isn’t ridden just with grief but vengeance too. But the film asks if any punishment by the law could be more brutal than the inner turmoil George Kutty and the family suffer daily. Can the police who committed brutal custody violence in Drishyam claim any moral superiority?
It is this delicate understanding of the subtleties of justice, power and humanity that makes Drishyam 2 a finer movie than Drishyam.
The Drishyam 2 review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreenindia.com and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.