Jan 2, 2014

Drishyam - Movie Review

(MILD SPOILERS AHEAD)

Drishyam is the story of a normal middle class family in Idukki district, comprising of cable operator Georgekutty (Mohanlal), his wife Rani (Meena) and their two daughters. Georgekutty is a fourth standard school dropout who dotes on his family while being a miser, much to the annoyance of his wife and amusement of his children. He spends most of his time at the cable office, watching movies of all languages. It is a peaceful family life filled with laughter, dreams and serenity. 
All that changes when a friend his daughter made at a school nature trip - the son of a high ranking police officer - stops her in the middle of the road one evening. Having filmed her while she was in the bathroom, he tries to blackmail her threatening to release the video into the internet. The next day, the boy is found to be missing.

If the first half of the movie is slow and leisurely in pace, the second half is a different ballgame altogether, turning into a relentless cat-and-mouse thriller. How George kutty schemes to save his family even as the police focus their investigation solely on him right from the beginning due to a moment of bad luck is a masterpiece of story-telling. Barely literate, he needs to use his street smarts and years of watching movies as a sole guide to execute the perfect plan to save his family. 


The yin to his yan is the mother of the missing boy, the Inspector General of Police played by actress Asha Sarath. Just as Mohanlal's character would do anything to save his family, the grieving mother too would go to any lengths to find out where her son is. As each layer of the investigation unfolds, along with the police you too get a glimpse of how well George kutty has thought ahead and prepared his wife and children for the psychological and physical tortures that the police would rain down upon them. The final twists in the tale are tremendously smart and form the perfect icing to this wonderful thriller-cake.

There are many who deserve applause for this movie. Kalabhavan Shajon, usually a comic side role, makes a very good villainous cop here who's out to get George kutty to settle old scores. Meena too is adorable as the wife who wants more for herself and her children before calamity strikes her family. Her scenes with her husband in the first half are sweet, naughty and so genuine that every middle class family can relate to them. I don't know the two girls who played their children but by God, they did a great job. Whether it was being coy while listening to their parents bicker or conversely breaking down out of fear, they are simply brilliant. For once, even the two songs of the movie actually are relevant as scenes within them take on a new interpretation later on in the movie. Asha Sarath as the mother of the missing guy is stubborn and breathes fire for the most part yet is vulnerable at times and does both roles with elan.

There are two people who will walk away with the main applause at the end. Mohanlal, of course, is an obvious choice. It is when he plays this role - the common man in trouble - that the best of his acting talents are showcased and Drishyam is a perfect example. Underestimated by the police because he is an illiterate simpleton, the plan he sets in motion to save his family is truly amazing. At no point during the movie does he resort to any filmy bravado - this is a poor man taking kicks, punches and verbal abuse submissively for the sake of his children while simultaneously playing a very smart game with the police.

The true hero, of course, is director Jeetu Joseph. Fresh after the success of the psychological thriller 'Memories', the director seems to be even more grounded here - the visuals of the idyllic countryside, the regular family life, the logical threat to a family and the sequences that follow - all of this could happen to any of us. Each scene serves a purpose, whether to give you an insight into the dynamics of the character or to set up a scene later on. Right from the meaning of the movie title down to the very last line uttered in the film, everything has a certain significance.

It is after a long time that I am seeing a crowd giving a standing ovation within a theater and this movie richly deserves it.  


I'm going with a solid 5 out of 5 Appletinis for this one.


P.S. Two points did come to mind after watching this movie.
1. If it were your family in trouble and you knew you were up against a police official, would you trust the law and judicial system to be fair to you? I know my answer is the same as within the movie - a resounding 'NO'.
2. This was basically my status update after watching the movie - 'Learn Bollywood Learn. Making movies which are hated by everyone who saw it and then trumpeting that you earned 200 crores just because you released it in bulk with Rs 900/- tickets does not make your film good. Focus on making a believable film rather than one where the 'perfectionist actor' can turn his bike into a jet ski and back. Grow up, Bollywood. You can make entertaining thrillers without leaving your brains at home.


58 comments:

  1. I wrote a lengthy comment and lost it...

    But lemme try again. This is great review. I could frrl the thrill you must have experienced while watching the movie. Good one.

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    1. I thoroughly enjoyed it.. cannot deny that. Have yet to meet anyone who's seen it and not been impressed.

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  2. Crowd gave a standing ovation the theater... it must be a fantastic movie! Interesting story line too. Hope it comes with English subtitles sometimes soon... hate the dubbed in hindi movies on TV though!

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    1. Just a very well told story... attention given to intricate details. Can't really say the same about the big grossers of Bollywood last year.
      I'm worried how a Hindi remake would be... they would be easily tempted to add masala and songs just for the sake of it.

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  3. I have heard rave reviews of this movie without the reviewers necessarily telling us what the plot was and why it was so good. This probably is the most balanced of all the reviews that I have read of this movie and makes me want to watch the movie as soon as I possibly can. Maybe I will watch it this weekend itself.

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    1. Do tell me what you think of it after watching...

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  4. You write a great review. truly took me on a thrilling ride through your words. Happy New Year. Have a good one.

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    1. Thanks Suzy. Happy New Year to you too

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  5. I had read some reviews of this movie but this is the best movie review of Drishyam so far. The story line seems very catchy and after watching 'Memories' by Jeetu Joseph, I am confident that this movie deserves the standing ovation that it earned in the theaters. Waiting to see it soon.

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    1. I honestly enjoyed this more than Memories and I really liked Memories a lot too. It just felt so natural. Do watch it when you get a chance.

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  6. I haven't watched Memories yet, but Drishyam has gotten even more rave reviews. I have to admit that I skimmed over parts of your post since I want to watch the movie and be completely absorbed by it! You're right, these are the kinds of roles that bring out the best in Mohanlal - glad to see that he's got his groove back!! And about the Bollywood money machines - the less said the better.

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    1. Good that you skimmed over bits. Go watch it directly and then tell me what you thought of it... and yes, when you think he's gone back to lazy 'super hero' style movies, Mohanlal does one like this to remind you why he is such a power house of talent.

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  7. This sounds good. Since I have a language issue here I will probably not be able to watch it but the story line sounds nice.

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    1. I've heard that the rights have already been snatched up across many languages... it's up to the individual directors from here on in I guess.

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  8. I luved the movie too! The only issue I had is are we sendin out wrong msg that one can hoodwink law so easily?

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    1. It's a definite moral grey area, I admit. But the truth is, the one thing I'm confident about is that if the circumstances were different, the mother of the boy too would use all her powers to save him and destroy the family. Is what George kutty did correct? Probably not. But would I do the same under those circumstances ? I think so.

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  9. I agree with you. I wouldn't trust the police in those circumstances. It sounds like a great movie. Great job on the write up of the review. ♥

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    1. Kathy, especially in recent years, we've gotten more and more proof of how easily cases can be manipulated, evidence added and the judicial system bought... it makes it harder to trust the system in today's India

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  10. This is my second review of the movie and believe me I have to have to see this movie! It has an amazing plot :)

    Richa

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    1. The scary part is that the trials of the family are very believable... it could happen to you and me any day even though we've done nothing wrong.

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  11. The movie seems like "the kind of movies I love" and I really want to watch this ( I hope they put it with subtitles), even dubbing would do! I agree with you that if it were made in Hindi, it would feature masala and some brawny hero as the father. When will Bollywood make believable movies?

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    1. thats what worries me.. if Bollywood makes this with Ajay Devgan or Salman, it loses any semblance of credibility. It should be a hapless man , not one who needs an entry song!

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  12. I stood up and clapped so hard for the movie. amazing acting by mohanlal after THANMATRA!

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    1. Haha.. somehow I can picture u doing that :D
      Everyone did in the theater I watched it in... he does bring out some amazing performances every once in awhile.

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  13. watched Dhoom-3 on Dec 30 and Drishyam on Dec 31...OMG!!You can imagine my state of mind after watching both movies almost back to back...Just LOVED Lalettan in this.I am a huge fan of his,but had stopped watching his 'Super-hero' movies after Narasimham.'SPIRIT' comforted me n now this!! I nearly stood up n clapped for the symbolism in the exhumation scene :-D

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    1. True.. I hate those super-hero roles of his - just silly. Yet everytime u think he's lost it, he decides to do something like this to show how awesomely talented he can be.
      That moment when the police jeep enters his compound and he runs to shield his frightened daughter - that one moment encapsulates the entire movie for me.

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  14. I am definitely going to watch this ! Your review has pushed me a bit more towards the online booking.

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    1. pleeeeeease go. Tell me what you think after watching..

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    1. True.. a really well taken movie.

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  16. Must watch
    Bollywood should learn from it and not turn out 300 crore trash

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    1. If only they would learn.. I hear movie rights have been sold across many languages. We will get a chance to see how they do the remakes - whether they take a grounded approach or indulge in unwanted glamour.

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  17. new to your blog.joining it.

    yeah,totally agree with your drishyam review....had seen this movie a couple of weeks back.

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    1. welcome to Godyears, Nikhi :)
      And good to see you enjoyed the movie. Very rarely do you see such a unanimously positive opinion from everyone.

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  18. Wow. 2014 will have some movie reviews as well from your end doctor. Drishyam is a movie I have earmarked to see.. Lets see, if I get a chance to come to Kerala (possibly in April) will check for the DVD. In Mumbai, its somewhat difficult to locate a malayalam DVD store and even if you get it, chances are it is of poor quality..

    Loved the review.. Direct dil se!

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    1. Ya, await the DVD and possibly avoid any spoilers.. just accept that its a movie worth watching and wait for a chance to watch it yourself.

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  19. what a movie really fanastic....first half is noramally family story but second half a thriller.when we saw fist half we can see some lengthy slow unvaluable scenes but this scenes valuale in second half that is the main winning point in this film.

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    1. Exactly Deepak.. I totally agree. Many seemingly irrelevant moments in first half and even the start of the second half take on an entirely new meaning as the movie progresses.

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  20. this is not a great movie ever made in fact the story line is so sketchy as it just creating so much confusion in viewers mind.

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    1. I dont know... i really enjoyed it and felt the screenplay was really strong and well-knit.

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  21. hi roshan dont u think Drishyam was inspired by the book 'The Devotion of Suspect X' by Keigo Higashino.

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    1. Its so refreshing to see this comment. Yes, it was a thought that crossed my mind. I see it crossed many minds as well... but you know what? I'm ok with that. As long as the final product is good, it doesn't matter. Many a time, we see people borrow stories and make a mess of it while bringing it onto the screen..

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  22. Watched drishyam in chennai,my god at the climax. The whole theatre gave a standing ovation,Hats of

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    1. Exactly... the same happened even in the theatre I watched it in.

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  23. Standing ovation at the end of the movie at cinema halls

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  24. Seat edge thriller !!!! Movie of de year ! Brilliant screen play !

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    1. seriously... underlines the value of a good screenplay, instead of focusing on star value and over-the-top action sequences a la Rohit Shetty movies.

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  25. can anyone pls narrate me what was the last conversation went on between lal and that son's parents in the last scene as i don't know malayalam?

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    1. *SPOILERS FOR OTHERS*

      Nirmal, without telling any names, MohanLal tells them that a stranger came to his house and threatened to harm his family. That something happened to the stranger and he took steps to make sure that his family would be safe, no matter what. He lets the parents know that the stranger will never be seen again, thus allowing them to understand the fate of their child.

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    2. It's an amazing thriller. the review does justice to it. When you love your family, a person should and can go to any heights. of course, in real life, we are not that strong. But you get the vibes after watching this movie...

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    3. It's an amazing movie. I don't understand Malayalam and yet I understood the crux of the movie. Although, I had good friends who translated the main dialougues. All in all, I am not able to get the movie of of my head.. Hats off to Malayalam Cinema..

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    4. True Chital... in real life, it would be very tough to actually pull off because of the level of forethought and planning required. But it does bring up the question... how far would you go to save your family?

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  26. Hi, nice review. I am a tamilian who understands Malayalam fairly we'll. I watched it and was very impressed. It was a full house on a weekday noon show and most of the audience were Tamilians who had limited or no knowledge of Malayalam. But they loved it clapped every time Lalettan scored over the police and eventually gave a standing ovation when the movie ended. I heard that it's being remade in Tamil with kamal as the hero. Though Kamal is a great actor, I really doubt if he can portray this role so casually in a convincing manner. Mohanlal's performance is so natural that at no point do you think that he is acting. The pain, angst and agony was so natural and evident in his body language. Respect to Mohanlal's and ofcourse, the true hero Jeethu Joseph, who is the director

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    1. This discussion was there even yesterday.. whether Kamal Hassan would do a good job. While atleast he seems a worthy contender, its when we think of the Hindi remake that fellow doctors started laughing... couldnt see anyone being so vulnerable, aged yet expressive with just his eyes

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  27. I wasn't so impressed with this film. The first half dragged. I understand that the director needs to build up a story and get us involved with the characters but the film takes a lot of time to get to the point. Neverhless the second half was deliciously crafted.The execution overall was subtle and woke me up! I wouldn't call it the greatest film of all time! but Zero overacting + Zero over-the-top songs + A well written thriller.. I would take that any day!

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    1. ya.. its not the greatest film of all time surely. I guess because of the lack of good films in recent times in Malayalam cinema, people just went overboard when you had one which was well done. I was okay with the slow build up personally... it felt like they were setting up the pieces for a game of chess with both the audience and the police :D

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  28. I have a doubt about one possibility which the police could have used (in the movie). Mohan Lal bought the mobile phone from a shop in which the victim's SIM was put in and thrown on a lorry. Police got the phone also. They could easily trace where the phone was bought and the shop keeper could identify him. Isn't it a possibility ? Police only need to search mobile shops in Idukki District only as the phone was bought from not too far.

    Shijimon.konat@gmail.com

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So what do you think ?