“Humse yeh suspense abhi bardaasht nahin hota!” wails Rajat Kapoor, playing IG Mira Deshmukh’s (Tabu in an author-backed role) husband and a rich businessman called Mahesh Deshmukh (Rajat Kapoor in a matured ‘Mahesh’ this time, after playing Priety’s ‘Mahesh Uncle’ in Dil Chahta Hai) towards the end of Nishikant Kamat’s ‘Drishyam’. This scene compels the audience to applaud for Ajay Devgn’s character, Vijay Salgaonkar and the ‘Drishyam’ that he has created.
Watching Drishyam is like watching a suspense film in the reverse. For folks like us bred on whodunits, here’s a film where you already know who has done it, and it’s how-to-hide-it, where the actual thrill lies. To be precise, Drishyam is ‘Johny Gaddar’ meets ‘Gone Girl’ minus the trappings of cat-and-mouse game.
Director Nishikant Kamat chooses to keep things simpler and at a pace as idyllic as the villages of Goa, where Panjim is just another word for family celebration. The film is essentially a family thriller, a genre, perhaps never explored before, especially with a treatment of a Karan Johar film – minus the big budget.
This experiment of a snail-paced screenplay in the first half works against the film and often comes across as a clunky ‘Savdhaan India’ episode. The wry humoured scenes of Ajay Devgn watching TV in Raja Babu style and the Sunny Leone moments ensure that the film is engaging enough. Thankfully, you’re richly rewarded by intelligent writing in the second half, making up for that lengthy build-up.
Once the film talks business, there’s no looking back. The cover-up is incredibly smart and impeccably meticulous. Director Nishikant Kamat employs the route of visual memory to the hilt and engages you to the point where you silently pray for Vijay Salgaonkar, and in the same breath, laugh at Mira Deshmukh’s helplessness without bothering about wrong and right. By the time you walk out of the auditorium, you find yourself smiling. Now when was the last time you felt that way in a film?
Writer Jeethu Joseph has been credited as the writer, but the basic plot is loosely based on Keigo Higashino’s book, ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’. Co-writer Upendra Sidhaye ensures that the film is relatable to aam janta. The used-abused ‘common man’ terminology finds a new face in Ajay Devgn’s character, Vijay Salgaonkar.
For a change, unlike other ‘heroes’, our character Vijay has an actual business rather than wooing the heroine and bashing up the baddies. He does lend a helping hand to the needy, take pangaas with the bad cops, but yet he’s a common man to the core. This establishes a direct connect with the audience.
Avinash Arun captures Goa with simplicity reminiscent of his brilliant film, ‘Killa’. The aerial shots are just spot-on. Editor Aarif Sheikh cuts the scenes with finesse and makes the song montage bring out the essence of Vishal Bhardwaj’s music and Gulzar’s lyrics.
Among the actors, Tabu and Ajay Devgn are first rate and at their veteran-best. Shreya Saran is a complete miscast here. Nevertheless, it’s surely actors like Kamlesh Sawant as the tough cop Sub-Inspector Gaitonde, Prathamesh Parab as Vijay’s apprentice in his cable business (Reminds of Raju Shreshta’s character ‘Chhotu’ in Anil Kapoor’s Woh Saat Din), and last but not the least, Rajat Kapoor who silently resents the tough ways of Tabu and articulates the helplessness of a parent with utmost sincerity.
To sum it up, Drishyam conjures up a thrilling imagery and is the triumph of writing over embellishment. Thanks Nishikant Kamat for giving us back the Ajay Devgn of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Zakhm and Gangajal. No more Action-Jackson, sir!