Sunday, February 28, 2016

13. Drishyam

Having missed the Hindi version of Drishyam last year, I was strongly directed by a Mallu friend to watch the original starring Lal-ettan. 'Acting masterclass', 'Devgn hammed' and similar phrases were thrown around in the discussion. Thus impressed, I procured a DVD of Malayalam original and prepared to get impressed.
To put it in short, I was mighty impressed.

Mohanlal brings just the right mix of a confidence and diffidence that a successful common man has in India. That the character (and the actor) is razor sharp gets nicely camouflaged by his geniality. which is a critical requirement of the role. Not only acting and facial expressions, even Mohanlal's body language is absolutely perfect.
The supporting cast - mainly consisting of Meera Durairaj, Asha Sarath and Siddiqui - is great too. I can't claim to be an expert on Kerala but the tea shop owner, the sub-contractor, the cable TV operator, the small-time political activist... all of them seemed very familiar!

However, what really stands out is the writing of the film (by the director himself - Jeethu Joseph).
In a mystery thriller with multiple witnesses of varying ages and backgrounds, set in a very real milieu, the structure and the words both become very important. As witnesses are questioned repeatedly, it is critical that the integrity of the interrogation is maintained and at the same time, the entertainment value is not compromised. As in, similar scenes don't become boring.
Again, since the 'hero' is a regular character, his introduction as a regular but heroic character also needs to be real but not boring. The initial part of the film - before the 'crime' takes place - plays out really well as George Kutty's (Mohanlal) equations with his family, his fellow villagers and the police are established smoothly and interestingly.
Finally, the words. They must convey differences in levels of education, affluence, power, confidence and so on. With the characters balanced on a razor's edge trying to prove (or disprove) the commission of a crime, each of these facets become like a see-saw between the police investigators and the people accused of the crime.

In short, watch it. Preferably, the Malayalam version.

[Frivolous Footnote: Uttam Kumar, in the later part of his career, was doing some excellent non-heroic leading roles before he passed away. I always felt that while Uttam Kumar did not have the high-culture sophistication of, say, Soumitra Chatterjee, he did have an innate intelligence that helped him weave a spell around audiences. That is pretty much the quality the protagonist has in Drishyam and I think Uttam Kumar would have played it brilliantly.]


Unknown said...

Hi, want to watch this but where can I get the subtitled version for this?

kala kavva said...

Another interesting take:

Diptakirti Chaudhuri said...

@Unknown - DVDs have English subtitles.

@Kala Kavva - Thanks. Anna Vetticad always has an interesting POV.

Lavs said...

Supporting cast - meera durairaj? Who i that? I guess you mean Meena.