Director: Jeethu Joseph
Cast: Daggubati Venkatesh, Meena, Kruthika, Esther Anil, Nadhiya, Naresh, Sampath Raj
Every film cannot be turned into a endless franchise. Some, like the Bond adventures, have managed to keep us gripped, largely because they have a totally different story to tell every time they come by. In the case of the Mohanlal starrer Malayalam film Drishyam, the second part seemed watered down and weak. Admittedly, the actor, who has managed to keep afloat his star status as well, was as brilliant in part two as he was in one. Both one and two were directed by Jeethu Joseph.
Now, Drishyam 2 has been remade into Telugu – as Drushyam 2 (helmed by Joseph, and now on Amazon Prime Video) — with Daggubati Venkatesh reprising the character that Mohanlal played. The star from Andhra Pradesh was also seen in the 2014 first edition, which was directed by Sripriya. At that point, a producer-writer friend of mine said that Venkatesh was really not as good as Mohanlal.
In fact, when the Tamil version of Drishyam 1 released – titled Papanasam, also helmed by Joseph – Kamal Haasan, who reprised Mohanlal’s part, fell a little short of the Malayalam hero, a humble cable operator whose ideas to fool cops came from the innumerable films he kept watching.
One might then ask why is it that Papanasam directed Joseph, who had done the Malayalam Drishyam, was not as good. I remember Joseph telling me that Kamal had wanted strong emotions built into his character. This robbed the core value off Papanasam, I felt.
Mind you, Georgekutty (Mohanlal) was a cunning guy, and knew how best to play his game of chess with the police. Mohanlal fitted this man to the T. Not quite Kamal. Similarly, Venkatesh in Drushyam 2 in Telugu comes nowhere close to the brilliance of Mohanlal in the Malayalam version of Drishyam 2.
Be that as it may, even Drishyam 2 in Malayalam, despite Mohanlal’s amazing performance (but of course) — as a cable operator who had graduated to being the owner of a cinema theatre, with a good house and a swanky car — was not as compelling as part one.
So, what is the story all about in Venkatesh’s Drushyam 2? Here Rambabu (Venkatesh) has started to drink, having made some money from his new business. This annoys his wife, Jyothi (Meena), but the man never falters when it comes to protecting his family with two daughters, Anju (Kruthika) and Anu (Esther Anil).
He nurses an ambition. He has a story and script ready, and is seeking to produce a movie. The plot has been published in the form of a book, and later, this will turn the tide in his favour. The old case of Varun’s (Inspector General’s son) disappearance, with his body never being found — although audiences would remember that it was buried under the newly constructed police station, a place that the men in khaki would never dream of looking – is still a subject of local gossip, Rambabu’s rising prosperity fuelling jealousy as well.
When a new police chief takes charge in Rambabu’s town, the case against him is reopened, and the cat-and-mouse game begins with Varun’s parents flying down from the US, where the retired police chief and her husband had migrated to.
Rambabu’s peaceful family life once again comes under scrutiny, with Anju having developed epilepsy following the traumatic police interrogation in part one of Drushyam. Her condition, pushed by new fear, worsens, but Rambabu had taken a pledge that, come what may, he would protect his folks.
Drushyam 2 narrates how he does this, but this part lacks the pulse-pounding excitement we saw in the first edition. There are a couple of situations that are somewhat hard to believe, and the courtroom scene is terribly dull and monotonous. The fire we saw earlier is missing. This is a clear sign that both Georgekutty and Rambabu have outlived their charisma. Yes, Mohanlal sparkles in both, not Venkatesh, who seems a little lost sans his melodramatic moments.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author, commentator and movie critic)