Drishyam - Review

wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)
quick review:

I don't remember the last time my emotions were engaged in a thriller, let alone a pounding heart and racing mind. A psychological thriller that hooks, thrills and keeps you thinking after it is done.

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My heart raced through most of the length of the film, and a long one at that. This is even though I know most of what has happened as the characters find out themselves. This even though there is drama, very average performances to distract you from the events in the film. The anxiety comes from not knowing if the protagonists will get out of the situation. The anxiety comes from not knowing how much they will suffer before getting out, if they do at all. The anxiety comes from knowing the odds are against them - not just the situation they are in, but also knowing the writer/director might not necessarily be kind to them either. The anxiety comes from being involved with the characters to such an extent. I don't remember the last time my emotions were engaged in a thriller.

Sure, the situation itself a little out there and the way it is handled a little too smart to be believable. But, once you have suspended that initial disbelief, given into the situation, and the drama begins to unfold you realise the intricacy of the set-up and build-up. Little questions like – why would a mother with a relatively uncommon name Nandini name her daughter a rather common, Anju – are answered and they add to the narrative. Some explanations, of course are a little convenient. But largely, you are doing something beyond rooting for the family you have begun to care for – you understand why people who love them, love them; you want to hurt the people who hurt them.

Drishyam has one of the most riveting second halves I've seen in a long while. Usually, thrillers build up well and fizzle out in the second half. But here most of the action come post-interval. This also means that it takes its time to build up. The start does make you restless and wants you to tell the story to get a move on. And maybe had the film gotten to its crux 10 or so minutes earlier, it would not make you wait for the interval. But, it is difficult to tell what impact that would have had on the audience's involvement with the Salgaokar family.

Also, a lot of the drama took me away from the characters into the reel world. The cheeky-cheesy reference to cinema being an educator is well, cute but a little far-fetched. A self-aware statement that films manipulate thrill using edits and music is instantly followed by use of “comic”music to bring in a laugh – that too when it wasn't necessary at all. The scene was funny by itself and the music actually took away from the smile. Again, a tighter rein on these bits could've also enhanced the story-telling.

Even so, there are things that worked for Drishyam that are otherwise trappings of a thriller. For instance, usually when a character unveils the mystery by speaking it out loud, it is a put off because it feels like you are reading a report. Here, the character is revealing the events as she is figuring it out herself. There are other instances where a shot from earlier in the film is repeated when a character is retrieving it from their memory. Usually, this is annoying because it is more to serve as a reminder to the audience than the character. Here, however, it is an essential piece in the narrative.

Other than commenting on the role of cinema in our lives, the misuse of power, the parenting style of the afffluent, Drishyam poses a question about right and wrong. You do wonder what you would have done if you were in IG Meera's (Tabu) place and how you would have worked your way around the situation that Vijay Salgaokar's (Ajay Devgn) finds himself in.

When a film largely works, it is difficult to find fault with the performances. But, except for a shot or two, Ajay Devgn looks like he is sleep walking. Shriya Saran too comes across as functional. Tabu has an enormous screen presence, yet it can hardly be called a challenge for her. In fact, the two little actresses are the ones who come across as the best actors in the lot. So, Drishyam becomes one of those rare films that has a narrative so strong that mediocre performances don't hamper it.

That is not to say Drishyam is taut. It is hardly flawless, but it glues you - body and mind alert - to the story. A thing you can only rarely say for a thriller. It is not a visual treat that ought to be watched in the theater, but it is a film which can be appreciated and encouraged for its writing. And of course, no home theater can enhance the thrill like a dark cinema hall.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Beating up of common people by the police. And one torture scene.
  • Language: Clean.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: There is talk of watching porn. Also a scene where a character is aroused by a scene in a film.
  • Concept: The extent to which a person can go to protect their family.
  • General Look and Feel: Nothing extra-ordinary. A riveting drama unfolds.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 4
  • Story: 4
  • Lead Actors: 3
  • Character Artists: 2.5
  • Dialogues: 3.5
  • Screenplay: 3.5
  • Music Director: 3.5
  • Lyrics: 3.5

Drishyam - Movie Details

Drishyam - Trailer

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Comments (21)

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Fan:

@Meetu: just like you I have been trying to stay at a yard's length from all write-ups on the Malayalam and Tamil versions - just so that when I watch this film it is a completely fresh experience without any influence from anywhere whatsoever. Waiting impatiently for this one.

jj:

Feel the trailers are giving away too much about the movie. Malayalam version was released as a family movie and we were stumped by the end of first half and on the edge of seats in the second half. Eager to see how hindi movie audience react to this.

JJ:

Just to set the expectations right, there is no mystery nor a whodunit. Just a perfect script.

Pragya:

JJ, why r u giving the movie away....

JJ:

I dint mean to give anything away. Apologies if I did.

Anuj:

Ajay D = Powerhouse actor (when given a good script).
Tabu = Powerhouse actress
Nishikant Kamat = Powerful storyteller

Hopefully this one's a cracker!

meetu:

@Fan ha ha ha. Less than 7 days to go :P

@JJ oh, didn't know that. Anyway, I've been warned. :D

@Pragya oops. I didn't get where JJ is giving away the movie either. But now you don't say it either. Good if I missed it :D

Suman:

I have seen the Malayalam version ... awesome storyline!!

kapil:

Movie is really a family drama.
Guys, please do not try to read about the movie anywhere. Go to the theatre with the expectations of a Golmaal sort of movie.
@Meetu : This recent upgradation of your website has some issues. Hope your technical team is on the job.

meetu:

Hey Kapil,

Can you tell me what problem you are facing?

Thank you so much.

Raju:

Guys if you don not get offended,I want to warn you do watch this movie with lowest expectations,as said by Mr kapil. @meetu:to say or not actually this movie is not about common man vs system and neither Tabu's character is vampish,it is a character of unfortunate circumstances. If by chance if anyone of you do get disappointed, do watch Dennis villeneuve's Prisoners(2013).it is somewhat similar to the former's storyline,I hope you did watched the later. I do apologise if anyone got offended by my comments

Kapil :

@Meetu : When I click on the movie title, it does not show the preview/review in the next screen. After some hit and trial, I found out that if I click on some other button and then 'i' button, it takes to the correct screen.
Also, yesterday, I wasn't getting cursor position while writing my comment. Not facing thus issue now.

kapil:

This is happening with mobile version.

jj:

@Raju, I fail to see any similiarity with Prisoners at all. May be you can mention once the review is out. Anyways both movies were released similar time. So its obviously not lifted from Prisoners.
There is clear inspiration from a Korean film, but Drishyam succeeded in covering off all the flaws, added a totally new dimension to it and adapted beautifully into a Kerala Christian community, Lets see where the Hindi version goes.

Anjali Sengar:

Earlier I was planning not to watch this film but after your review, I am going to watch it tomorrow.

Anup:

Some brilliance piece of writing. Every other thing revolve around it.
The movie seeks for patience in the first half , although i didnt get bored any time in between the film, but the patience is paid off in the second half..
Nisikant Kamat has proved himself again, how good he can control the intense scencs and how good he is in making remakes.

Anup:

Dont remember any movie in which Interrogation has been shown in such a detailed manner. every answer , every reaction , every eye to ey look has been considered.. Its just brilliant.

Anuj:

Seems like anyone clashing with the B2 storm these days is gonna have a miserable fate. Drishyam is one of them. Most of the audiences have spent thousands of bucks over the last 3 weeks on Bahubali & Bhaijaan. Hence I do not see too many willing to spend on Drishyam this week. This might be a good film, but unfortunately is an outright flop.

Suman Chakraborty:

Direction: 2
Story: 4
Lead Actors: 2
Character Artists: 1.5

Dialogues: 1.5
Screenplay: 2
Music Director: 1.5
Lyrics: 1.5

Anuj:

nice gripping thriller no doubt, but unlike the malyalam version, the attention to detail in the hindi version is not up to the mark. For example, it is indeed quite hard to imagine a lower middle class cable tv operator (the fact that he's a class 4 dropout has been re-instated a million times over) to be living in a posh bungalow spread over acres & acres of land. Its this kind of detailing that really separates Malayalam cinema from the glamorous and glossy bollywood's,tollywood's and kollywood's of this country.

Fan:

Wow. Just one word. Wow.

What did I just watch? A jaw dropping taut thriller. Meetu : a Yay! Thumbs Up as the highest available rating is insufficient. This is simply the best Hindi film of 2015. And certainly the best Hindi thriller of this century so far.

The palpitations, the butterflies in the heart, the constant heart throbbing at 170 bpm ... all were so far felt by me only in a Hitchcock film. That's the highest credit a director can get - being par with Hitchcock. Simple scenes with ultra high nerve wrecking tension. Top quality film.

Had I watched it in the theatre then I would have had the interval session to relieve some pressure. But on DVD no such relief was possible. The movie as a whole is such a marvellous experience that I don't even want to analyse or comment on individual performances.

Nishikant Kamat joins the league of Neeraj Pandey where his next film will be eagerly awaited.

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