Drishyam Movie Review: Has to be seen to be believed

DrishyamThis 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.

The Happy Family

The Happy Family

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.

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25 thoughts on “Drishyam Movie Review: Has to be seen to be believed

  1. Pingback: The Best of Malayalam Cinema in 2013: A Perspective | mad about moviez

  2. Jeethu Joseph had a winner when he chose the fastest selling novel as his script…but he made the changes to suit with regional taste..but gaping holes in the police investigation can’t be explained…SPOILeR ALERT-a smart police officer who can guess the alibis are constructed can’t think of getting fingerprints and DNA from the crime scene…also the major flaw is only a criminal can think of ways to absolve himself and not a failed fourth grader just by watching movies…

    • Why should only a criminal be capable of thinking ways to absolve oneself from a situation like the one in the film?Georgekutty is a guy
      who apart from being a fourth grader (pass & not fail :)) is also someone who always asserts that his family comes first & he will go way
      out to protect them.

    • DNA probably, but not sure if fingerprints would stay so long on the car under water. DNA and fingerprints in the place of burial inside the plantation is futile cause its his house anyways. it is cinematic but the fourth grader thinking so hard is what makes us root for him…..

    • Do you think only english or japanese people are capable of making such brilliant movies?Malayalees are really brilliant.There is no need to copy a stupid japanese novel or any shit hollywood movies for making great movies like.Its the director ‘Jeethu Joseph’.And all his movies are directed in a brilliant manner.

  3. Badri, am not talking about the car or the burial site..the girl told the cops what she saw..so its clear she saw her mom and sis in the tool shed…and that’s the major problem..in a tool shed, how hard u try, even a criminal cant wipe out all the evidence…See the original novel is about a brilliant mind at work……and what I meant is only a criminal can think of recreating an elaborate scheme…a person who goes to buy a new phone, put the SIM in that, through the phone away, take the car and sink it, a person who goes to a lodge and then does a fake entry…are u really implying he can be a innocent family man? maybe in fiction! but sadly, even in fiction, there is more resemblance to truth…the novel was about the guy’s devotion and he really went all the way…even though he went against the law and finally accepted that!

    • Sangeeth-while I do agree about the tool shed & DNA link, pls remember what happened in the film.As soon as the girl ‘spills the beans’ to the cops & the compost pit is dug up there is instant pandemonium which is what Gerogekutty had already smartly planned for.He immediately makes a huge ruckus over the police atrocities & constable Sahadevan (Kalabhavan Shajon) is targeted by media & public and he actually makes life easy for Georgekutty by attacking the people etc. In the middle of all this do you really expect the Police to get back & then think of doing a DNA test etc?Pls remember that right after this the I.G ends up resigning from her job as well. So this is certainly not a point to nitpick on IMO 🙂

  4. finally managed to catch the movie that everyone has been raving about yesterday and bottom line…I was impressed!
    Superb movie, no doubt…a screenplay well thought out..and after a long time a movie where the script is the true winner.
    And one thing is certain…this is a movie by a cinema lover for cinema lovers. We all love going into movies and complaining how predictable the twists were and how as a viewer you saw it coming etc, because after watching all those movies we do stay one step ahead of the script …99% of the times.
    and the hero of Jeetu Joseph’s film is exactly that….the cinema lover who stays one step ahead of them all. We all love a good cat and mouse game, but that does not mean we are ‘criminal minded’ to be enjoying them. It reminds me of Breaking Bad in many ways, and Jeetu Joseph does create a Walter White of sorts in small town Kerala, but stops short of making him into a Heisenberg.

    • @JOX No doubt that the movie is engrossing and one to be watched…but the movie is based on a best selling Japanese novel and Jeethu just changed the character from a brilliant mathematician to a fourth grader, so that(maybe) nobody can claim its based on the novel! and on that subject, same with “Memories”….he changed the character of a brilliant detective to a drunkard….so I don’t think its Walter White Jeethu has recreated, but Tetsuya Ishigami and in the previous film, Daniel Sharavi!

      • Again Sangeeth over here it is Georgekutty just going all out to protect his family. While in the Japanese novel it is a mind game between a mathematics teacher & a physicist who seem to understand each others moves pretty well.So its certainly not the same IMO.

  5. Ok so finally after a long long time paid up to watch a Malayalm film and it was heartening to see the return of good old fashioned Malayalam cinema. See Badri this is what I was talking about.

    Where the characterisation is apt and the proceedings are believable. More importantly it shows the power of good writing and how your mind can be stimulated with no extra style.

    And more importantly its a solid return to form of an actor whom I so loved and has a presence like one of my own family member.

    A film deserved to be watched by one and all.

  6. Drishyam may be a brilliant movie but it’s annoying to know the truth that the movie is blatantly copied from the critically acclaimed Japanese novel “The devotion of suspect X” which was later remade into a Japanese movie “suspect x”. In fact,the malayalam movie pales infront of the japanese novel. The movie is being remade in the Hollywood but they have been moral enough to purchase the rights while the crook from kerala is not even willing to accept his supposed plagiarism. Rather, he is busy selling it’s rights proclaiming it as his own…LOL!!! The irony of that…

    • You seem to be right about the source of the plot: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suspect_X

      Though I don’t know how the plot goes in the Japanese version, it looks as though the writer might have managed to deviate significantly from it, so while we could call it a copy, calling it a blatant copy might be an over statement.

  7. hello guys… The movie may be taken or copied from japan or mars!!!! But it has made a good entertainer out of it..:) and obviously these poor Malayalees (including me) may not be able to get all the “novels” ( Malayalam or English Translation of a Japanese novel.. no way) and read it too ( as u do) … So in my opinion jeethu and his team has done a very good work by giving us (i never include u “here” critics :D) a nice movie ..

  8. The novel was a great crime thriller…but it never gave any inkling that it is right to tell lies and do necessary things to hide the crime…it shows clearly that to hide a crime, you need to commit another one or many others and the lead characters pay the price in the end..Jeethu took the central theme and then made something quite different in that the hero is telling his kids and wife to lie and do whatever necessary to hide the crime.. even in the end, there is no atonement for the crime..Siddique in a recent interview told that after hearing the story, he wanted Georgekutty to win…and we have ppl celebrating the fourth grader triumphing against all odds…rooting for him..anything taken out of context becomes something quite different and this is what happened with Drishyam..film is a powerful medium and ppl from all walks of life watch…some not able to see the difference between reel and real world…

  9. Nobody is against getting “inspired” by a foreign novel or movie. Just give credit to the original and don’t strut around as if it came from your mind.

    • Agreed. Even i find this tendency among Indian filmmakers to be quite irritating. Another example of this sort was Murgadoss saying he hadn’t seen or even heard about Memento.

      • A good nice Malayalam movie with great acting by mohan lal. The movie is about a common man trying to save his struggling family and he’ll do whatever to save them.
        screenplay was awesome especially compared to directors previous films.
        the movie is not without its weakness but still a new take on Malayalam movies since most Malayalam is not that great.
        I’ll rate a 7.8 or 8 out of 10 must watch for all malayalees

      • Yes you are absolutely correct about murgados and ghajni.
        to me “MEMENTO” is a million miles times way ahead of ghajni and story is wide and thrilling in the case of memento. And the ending wowwwwww, thats what i call a real movie twist. Never had such experience in my whole life
        and Christopher nolan is one of the greatest director in the world and all his works are masterpieces.

  10. Finally watched it, i liked the first part, which establishes the family connection and the sexual banters between Mohanlal and Meena, without being cheap and Vulgar, the second half i felt was stretched and the torture scene becomes melodramatic, pity considering the film’s first half is realistic. I loved the tribute to Malayalam Cinemas, right from the start when Yesudas song play. Dubbing for Meena was bad and out of sync for most of time. Overall an above average film, it would have been more enjoyable if the duration was lesser.

    On other hand, i feel the concept of Police Brutality and People especially in Sexual case never gets Justice in India and with more than one case which has been in news in Kerala for most of the last decade, the Malayalees could not connect with helplessness of George kutty.

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