Drishyam – A Trendsetter

Drishyam, originally made in Malayalam, starring Mohan Lal and Meena has been successfully remade in Telugu, directed by Actor Sripriya.

The fact of the matter about this Telugu version is this: It is truly faithful to the Malayalam version that must have served as an inspiration. And then, this, of course, could be mere wishful thinking : Drishyam (Telugu) could well become a trend-setter for future Telugu movies. This film is a “serious” film from scene one and remained so till the very end, riveting your undivided attention throughout. This in many words is, a family-centered suspense thriller where the audience is well aware of what has occurred but is anxious along with the family to know who reveals what, and where would all this finally lead to.

Actor Venkatesh (as Rambabu) and Meena (as Jothi) are leading a comfortable life with their two girls. Only certain minor issues like the unwillingness of Rambabu to do enough spending that would satisfy all the high-mundane-needs of his family seems to be the only hitch. The elder of the two girls (Anu) gets into an acquaintance of sorts, with one Varun at a camp and later gets to know that Varun is the son of the I G of Police, a madam who breathes fire in her words and deeds. Varun has secretively taken some photographs of near-nudity of Rambabu’s daughter and seeks to exploit this situation. On a fateful evening a forceful “tryst with destiny” is to happen during the dead of the night at the backyard of Rambabu’s residence. Here Anu is destined to meet Varun where he would perhaps outrage the young girl’s modesty. (expected) The lights come on and there appears Jothi. Varun explains to Jothi his stand and if the girl and her mother do not agree they may have to undergo world-wide ignominy. Varun threatens to upload this video on the net. As a bargain he is even ready to spend his time with Jothi, if they agree. It makes no difference for him. Chagrined beyond measure, Anu takes a huge bamboo stick and gives a body blow to Varun who has been willy-nilly struck at the right spot. He is rendered dead. The second kid in the meanwhile is up and about and does witnesses the goings on. The body is packed in a gunny bag and is deposited in the manure pit that had been dug and kept ready earlier by Rambabu. Rambabu returns home and is petrified initially to know what has happened. Yet he understands and sympathises and justifies that acts of the mother-daughter duo and vows to protect them till the last ounce of blood is in him. The film rightly re-begins here with the kind of manipulations and maneuvers Rambabu carries out with amazing sagacity for a fourth-class passed citizen. Each one of their moves henceforth is calculated with ruthless precision. He emboldens each member of his family with all the necessary grit and determination to face the police enquiry that would confront them sooner and later. The fourth-degree treatment meted out by the police to extricate the truth out of the family members, even as the now contagious courage of each member peaks, the twists and turns, both predictable and unpredictable this tale takes, is worth watching and remains unstated here.

The dialogues are crisp with none of those lecture-like longish tones, a basic necessity for this kind of terse film. Each actor seems to have drawn their lines and adhere to the stipulations, dutifully never transgress the limits. Containing your histrionic abilities, depending on the situation and the need, is certainly the better part of acting. There are two songs that are indeed pleasant on the ear. The director’s presence is never felt (or is left imposing) which again is a sign of successful and effective directorship. The camera too has done its job adequately.

Having seen the “original” in Malayalam one is forced to compare the performances here, but is intentionally resisted. If Mohanlal was unique, Venkatesh has certainly understood the moods and needs of Telugu-Prajalu and has acquitted himself creditably. Venkatesh has truly lived this role as he had perhaps understood it and that has been done without any iota of overdoing. And so with the others.

All this augurs well for the liberation of the Telugu film from the stereotypic rut it has fallen into. Arise! Awake! For you have nothing to Fear!

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