Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Drishyam (2013)

Director: Jeethu Joseph
Writer:    Jeethu Joseph
Cast:       Mohanlal, Meena, Ansiba, Kalabhavan Shajohn

Desperate measures are taken by a man who tries to save his family from the dark side of the law, after they commit an unexpected crime.

The film has smashed all box office records in Malayalam cinema history with the total take including box office, satellite rights and remake rights standing at around Rs. 65 Crores which is a big deal for a Malayalam film. Unlike in Hollywood where the financial success of a film from different eras could be compared by adjusting for inflation, in Indian film industry it cannot be done. One reason is that like all aspects of Indian economy, film industry is also under the influence of black economy and so, especially for older films, you don't have accurate data. Even now there is a significant influence of black money in the film industry and prime example for this is the producer of this film, Mr. Antony Perumbavoor, who used to work as a driver for Mohanlal and now he produces his master's films. He also makes a cameo appearance in this film which is not as cringey as the one he did in the 'Irupatham Noottand' sequel, the atrocious 'Sagar alias Jackey reloaded'. With the advent of multiplexes a major portion of total gross is contributed by them and more accurate data is available. Hopefully it will also improve the standard of films also because one could cater to a niche audience and still make profitable films. So if you cannot compare films  from different era based on their gross maybe one could compare based on theatrical days it ran. That is also problematic because when films were made in films and projected from films, they were initially released in A class cinemas and once that run is over, it would be released subsequently in B class and C class cinemas. The digital technology and internet has made that model obsolete and now the idea is to release films in maximum number of screens and try to get maximum initial collection. So successful film that ran for 100 days in the 90s could be comparable to a film that ran for a month these days. In that context the more than 100 days run that Drishyam managed is quite huge even though the  number of screens after the first two months maybe limited to major cities only. 

Enough about financials. The film can be classed as a family thriller. The first half of the film tries to establish the characters of the family, their environment and social standing. This part of the film is its weaker part with the script feeling clunky and Mohanlal in his cringy preachy mode that is now very common in his films these days. Films like 'Ivide Swargamaanu' and whatever little I have seen of 'Spirit' are examples for this. I am not criticizing the first half for being slow because it is essential as a foreplay for the second half of the film. Just that script is not very good. Many films that have been big hits in Malayalam lately are usually great in first half and then loses steam as it progresses. This is not a problem with Drishyam because for quite a long period of time it keeps the audience guessing and even as we try to pick holes in the plot, slowly and steadily it reveals its secrets. The exposition scenes are also done pretty decently and the victim's mother being the Police Officer trying to solve the case helps in that regard. The initial disclaimer that no animals were harmed during the production is a big clue for the twist that occurs towards the end. I just wish they hadn't so explicitly revealed where the body was hidden. They could have even just stopped with his line that he feels the Police and Police station will protect him. I would also say that the first scene of the film is very important for the film since it puts us in constant state of dread.

The director had initially approached Mammooty to do the main role and because of date clashes Mohanlal was chosen. He claims that no change in script was made subsequently and if so I am glad it was not Mammooty just for the fact that him doing the sensitivity dialog would have been totally unbearable. With Mohanlal doing it there was some comic value to the whole scene. Overall the film has its flaws but is a great one time watch.

Rating: 3.5/5