CAST: Ajay Devgn, Tabu, Rajat Kapoor, Shriya Saran, Ishita Dutta
DIRECTION: Nishikant Kamat
DURATION: 2 hours 43 minutes
DRISHYAM HAS WHAT IT TAKES TO `HOOK' THE AUDIENCE
STORY: Inspired by Japanese crime-writer, Keigo Higashino's novel The Devotion of Suspect X, Drishyam(translates as illusion) was originally adapted in Malayalam. That version went on to become a blockbuster, paving the way for copies. The latest is, Nishikant Kamat's Bollywood adaptation that has adequate promise.
REVIEW: The story revolves around the fourth-standard school drop-out Vijay Salgaonkar (Ajay) who lives in Goa with his wife Nandini(Shriya) and their two daughters. He is a movie buff who runs a cable-video business. Crazy about cinema; he laughs, cries, plots and plans or for that matter even allows films to dictate his sexual desire. All in all, Vijay has a blissed-out existence. Till his teenage daughter Anju(Ishita) goes for a inter-school nature camp. There she encounters Sameer Deshmukh (Risabh Chaddha)the son of IG, Meera Deshmukh(Tabu). The brat shoots a video-clip of the naive girl in the shower. On their return home, crafty Sam seeks to trade `favours' from Anju. The teenagers are negotiating when an untoward incident occurs, leaving Anju stumped and her family in a fix.
Ajay Devgn), a cable operator, is a film buff (goes teary-eyed watching sappy dramas and does a shot break-down of action scenes starring Tom Cruise). His family comprises his wife Nandini (Shriya Saran) and daughters, Anju (Ishita Dutta) and Anu (Mrinal Jadhav). The Salgaonkars, as shown in trailers, are accused of being responsible for the disappearance of a certain teenager, who happens to be the son of Goa IG Meera Deshmukh (Tabu). Now, you'd expect the police to torture the Salgaonkars till they break down. But very little screen time is expended on this. In fact, more scenes are dedicated to Vijay training his family to brave the possible torment and interrogation, with obvious dialogues like, "woh hume todne ki koshish karenge" and "ab yeh ek khel ban gaya hai".
A distraction in the film is that it spells out situations and character traits. Meera's opening shot shows her ordering a set of witnesses to be battered. But that's not enough, she quickly adds, "Inhe maarte raho. I don't care." She then turns around and walks away in slow motion with a steely expression. Tough cop in the house!
Also, that Vijay is a 'chauthi fail' is only mentioned about 20 times (or more). Is it because it'd make his supposedly impossible plan seem even less possible? This continuous narration allows your brain to sink into a recliner as you know every twist will be explained, dumbed-down and underlined. The film's promotions have also taken the fizz out of the proceedings: they reveal the prime witness, the prime accused, the missing person and the cop for whom this case is more personal than professional. When you enter the screen, you can't wait for the storm to gush in. Instead, the calm drags on for too long (the happy family build-up is cringeworthy).
Ajay single-handedly carries this film. His affinity for playing an everyman who does the right thing even if the way is wrong, continues in this film. Shriya's and Ishita's eyes well up in every alternate scene and their presence is unobjectionable. Tabu's performance is tight, perhaps even tighter than her body-hugging police uniform. But delivering lazily-written lines like, "Par main ek maa bhi hoon," takes away from her strong screen presence.
The songs in the film don't establish a mood or complement a situation; they only convey passage of time. The locations portrayed as rural Goa are picturesque and cinematographer Avinash Arun deserves credit for making them seem cinematically surreal. Straight out of directing Lai Bhaari, last year's record-breaking Marathi blockbuster, director Nishikant Kamat seems too obsessed with formula and doesn't manage to retell this story with the passion and subtlety that it deserves.
Drishyam could've been crisper (runtime: 163:33 minutes) and woven in a few more tricks and surprises. But it is only a lazy remake and a lot is lost in translation.