This time for a change I will give the verdict upfront and keep the BS for later. ‘Drishyam’ is my movie of the year across whatever I have seen in the few languages I track. Please rush to the nearest cinema hall and ensure you catch up with this beauty in all its glory in the big screen.
I am not sure if Mohanlal’s ‘Aashirvad Cinemas’ backed Jeethu Joseph on the basis of his script or on the blind act of bagging a hot director right on the back of the super success of ‘Memories’. But whatever the case, the choice seems to have worked out very well and has given a protagonist-script combo of the kind dreams are made of.
Setting the background to start with, Drishyam revolves around a normal middle class family from Idukki district and a set of complicated circumstances that they get themselves into. Georgekutty (Mohanlal), the neighborhood cable operator lives a peaceful existence with his family, comprising of wife Rani (Meena) and daughters Anju (Ansiba) and Anu (Esther). He is liked by one and all in the area and has a very normal middle class life which hovers around his cable tv office and his house set inside a small plantation he has. The family’s life is thrown out of gear by a sudden misfortunate incident and the immediate reaction that they offer. The rest of the movie is about the resulting chain of reactions and how the family led by George tackles the same in a step-by-step manner.
Giving out anything further on the story will be criminal as a reviewer and I will refrain from doing so. The movie has many things going for it. Like most great movies it takes its own sweet time to set the context and background. Clear detailing is given to the ecosystem in which Georgekutty lives and each and every character in the setup. Be it the aspirational middleclass wife, the enthusiastic children and the concerned in-laws. The protagonist is also a very unique characterization of someone who is semi-literate but draws his razor sharp wisdom from the huge volume of movies he watches. The real deal starts from about 15 minutes before the interval when the first twist happens and then post-interval it is an exhilarating game of cat and mouse between Georgekutty and the cops. Cat and mouse with cops is never a novelty in Indian cinema. The beauty this time is how it is fully cerebral, largely believable and highly unpredictable.
There are standout scenes aplenty in the movie. All the interrogation scenes in the movie are gripping, be it of the key characters or the most insignificant of supporting artistes. Watch out how Georgekutty and his wife deftly handle the cops in their house or how smartly the family games the interrogation process. I walk a tight rope here as I am torn between explaining the best of what I saw and my sense of responsibility to not spoil your fun.
There is not a single false note in the performances of any one in the cast. Meena offers great depth to the role of the housewife in the brief screen time she gets. The kids are very likeable and Siddique is as competent as ever. But the revelations in the cast are a) Asha Sharath in a pretty tricky role as a sharp IG of police and a caring mother all at once and b) Kalabhavan Shajoun as a not-so-likeable constable with a constant grudge against Mohanlal’s Georegekutty.
Production values are all up to the mark. The cinematography, especially in the initial reels goes a long way in establishing the mood of the setting and before the interval you already feel that you are very much there at the center of action. Background music is adequate and the 2 songs in the movie are well placed with ‘Marivil’ doing much more than what multiple scenes can do in showcasing the fabric of Georegekutty’s home. Editing is razor sharp as you do not feel one frame extra or lingering beyond its due.
But if there is a single aspect which triumphs all the way in the movie it is detailing and detailing in anything and everything. Not a single frame exists without reason, not a single thread is left unexplained and not a single expression is unnecessary. The key ingredient for an absolutely gripping thriller is detailing, as closing every open end is more important than the fact whether the closure is completely logical or acceptable. Not that I found any glaring logical inconsistencies at all here, but the fact that so much care has been taken to intricately weave the narrative that you don’t want to even think much beyond that.
Detailing also forms the bedrock for the master class from the master actor himself. Mohanlal’s USP is slightly different from someone like a Nadigar Thilagam or a Ulaga Nayagan. Mohanlal is at his very best when he gets a relatable character, quickly jumps into the skin of the same, takes us along and then shows sheer class in the minutest of ways he reacts as the character and almost single handedly transports you right into the middle of the situation. Malayalee fans world over whose heads were dropping due to the lack of such Lalesque moments in last few years have great reason to celebrate. Be it the simpler scenes where he is concerned at his family expenditure or intricate gems like the frame where for the first time he sees a cop approaching his daughter or his calm approach throughout the crisis that his family gets into, ‘Drishyam’ is unimaginable without the one and only Lalettan. And the beauty is he achieves this without assaulting our scenes in every frame, like how he is forced to do in his more masala outings.
Please put down ‘Drishyam’ on your to-do list this week. Malayalee fans have reasons aplenty to celebrate. Non-malayalees too should give it a try as the spellbinding screenplay is reason enough for you to enjoy this despite language barriers. A proud 4.25 on 5.
Best of Malayalam Cinema in 2013