Drishyam: A Fantastic Movie

NOTE: The review does NOT contain any spoilers. So feel free to read even if you haven’t seen the film!

Indian cinema has always suffered from the problem of being overly ‘actor-centric’, the result being that it has neglected story as a factor in making movies. The situation has only worsened in the recent past. Movies – with stories and script that seem to have been written by a four year old monkey with a typewriter – are making hundreds of crores! While well scripted, well acted out movies – like Lunchbox, Masaan, etc., have been Box Office duds. So it was nice to see, for once, a movie that had gotten its bearing right and did substantially well financially.

I like movies where the “good” characters are also bad, and the “bad” ones good, because I feel that that is a more honest representation of the real life. People are not as black-and-white as Karan Johar would have you believe. Nor are they as ruthlessly animalistic as the creations of Anurag Kashyap. We are all a mix of inherent altruism and an instinctive selfishness, with significant deviations existing in both the spectrums.

Drishyam tries to pull at those strings, trying to sway us this way or that, forcing us to choose sides. At the end, I figure it will be quite easy for anyone to feel for Ajay Devgan and his family, however, it is in those few moments when we feel sorry for Tabu as well, where the movie truly excels.

At the heart of the film lies a central question: How far will people go to defend their loved ones?  That is a moral issue. That question is followed by a raider: How far can we let people go before their actions stop being self-defence and start becoming active crime?  That is a legal issue.

And that is the real strength of the movie. On one side is an average citizen, acting in self-defence, trying to come in the way of natural course of the Law; on the other is a dutiful cop, ruthless, shrewd, trying to bring down the hammer of justice, swift and strong, on the head of a suspiciously criminal family. It is easy to argue from both sides and reaching a decisive conclusion is hard. Such moral ambiguity of characters is something I cannot resist.

While the movie does well with cinematography, editing and casting, it loses out on background score. The music by Rekha Bharadwaj is just functional enough. The film also suffers from what can only be described as the director’s lack of faith in the intellectual ability of the audience. There are scenes where shots and dialogues are painstakingly repeated, from various angles/viewpoints, just to make sure that a point is not lost on the dull audience.

I guess that it is justified to certain extent, given that our cinematic sensibilities have been dulled down to the point of ridicule by years of contact with the produce of geniuses like Sajid and Farah Khan. Having said that though, I would have liked if Nishikant Kamat would have treated us with just a little more confidence.

All in all, it was a great movie, one that shows that you don’t need skimpily clad heroines dancing lewdly to pull audiences to cinema theatres. All you need is a group of talented actors, a tightly bound script and a realistic, believable story. That last one is very, very important.


Watch the trailer here.

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