I have not seen the much-acclaimed original Drishyam starring Mohanlal, nor the Kannada version with Ravichandran and the Tamil one with Kamal Haasan. All three garnered enough appreciation to make me wait eagerly for this Hindi version. So that was the only baggage I had to deal with, my own expectations but not a template for comparison, fortunately.
I’ve no hesitation to say that the movie is engrossing and definitely a notch above the regular potboilers. There aren’t too many ‘whistle podu’ moments, true. But it’s not ‘that’ type of a crime thriller. You don’t wait eagerly to see who the murderer is. Heck, that’s old hat. There’s a corpse, no doubt, but how the two families who are affected by the turn of events handle them, forms the essence of the movie.
The story writer demands allegiance towards the two families, who are going through a harrowing time. Does he get it? Well… he got it from me. Period.
Ajay Devgn as the male protagonist, Vijay Salgaonkar, a cable operator, who is shown as a simple ’fourth pass’ family man, loving father, husband, employer, friend, et al, who finds hitherto unknown depths of street-smarts and crafty ingenuity in dealing with a situation that can land his family behind bars, just about manages to see it through. I was a tad disappointed there. Devgn seems too dull. The spark is missing. The first half an hour, which drags a bit could have been enlivened by him, but he makes it worse with his morose one- dimensional, bleak stare at the camera all the time.
I’m not saying he’s bad. I suppose he’s a proficient enough actor to manage not to make any role sink. But you expect better from Devgn.
So what saves the movie? It’s the plot, screen play, direction and dialogues of course, no doubt. Gripping, once the complication unravels, you find yourself watching with interest, which doesn’t sag one tad bit. That’s saying much for a movie without the usual masala elements.
I’ve saved the best for the last. You eagerly wait for the female protagonist. She strides in like a colossus. IG Meera Deshmukh, aka one fine actress called Tabu. Hard-nosed, tough, with loads of aggression and a devil-may-care attitude you are almost relieved when she makes an appearance. At least we’re saved the compulsion of staring at Ajay Devgn’s sad sack expression all the time. I know…that’s mean, but you’ll see what I’m saying. You want to whistle when she enters with an almost ramp walk-like stride to the accompaniment of the modern-day version of war drums. A little too commercial -film style here, but forgivable. She carries the movie on her able shoulders, almost.
Devgn’s elder daughter is natural and the younger, a lovable pudding, adds variety.
Watch the movie to see the breathtaking helicopter shots of that beautiful emerald called Goa. Admire the very natural settings such as ‘Martin’s Corner’, a police force sans drama, family bonding in times of stress and the ability of the director to make you envisage the possibility of such a thing happening in our houses, in our backyards. That is the compelling quality of the screenplay, to engage the audience at a very personal level.
The wonderful aspect of the story is that there’s no moralizing. What is right and wrong does not have a static answer. One is responsible only for one’s intention and not the impact. Those who look simple may not be so when challenged and those who seem tough suffer in private. These nuances lift the movie above the ordinary, if one cares to read between the lines.
There is a negative character that the audience will love to hate, an Inspector Gaitonde, who is clearly a great actor. I have a grouse, though. Why are the unpleasant characters always very dark-complexioned? Need we perpetuate such stereotypes, still? Devgn’s wife, Shriya Saran, is a simpering homemaker who needs to cajole hubby dearest to take the family on an outing and act grateful when he benevolently gives in. Stereotypes, anyone?
But there’s a spark of pleasure too, for me personally this time, as a part of a community that has always done very well for itself, but shies away from the limelight. It felt great to see the Director’s name, Nishikant Kamat. The characters are also Inspector Shireesh Kamat, Inspector Prabhu (my maiden surname,…oh why did I change it?) and the like. My country cousins seem to be coming into their own, finally. High time they did.
Felt a little like being at Kodial Theru. A good watch, the movie. Not iconic cinema but definitely neat.