Drishyam 2: Where the Ajay Devgn-starrer aces and misses compared to the Mohanlal version
The Malayalam original was released on OTT last year
Nothing beats the original. Ajay Devgn’s latest offering Drishyam 2 might be scaling box office heights (it crossed Rs 64 crore in its first week) but when it comes to cinematics and character development, it lags behind the Mohanlal-starrer Malayalam version. This can also be because of the difference in mediums. Jeethu Joseph’s original was an OTT release while its Hindi counterpart came in theatres. Thus, the dramatic elements in the Hindi version are a bit rushed and it takes only those parts which ensure the plot’s adequate pacing, an absolute necessity for the multiplex audience.
In the points below, I will discuss the narrative elements of the two versions. However, this is neither a nitpicking nor an analytical exercise but a sheer observation of writing and cinematic choices.
The Malayalam version takes us back to the village in Kerala’s Idukki district. The sky is grey and the dim taint of the initial shots are ominous of what is going to come. Moreover, the characters feel at home. The gossip-mongers, discussing the protagonist Georgekutty’s case, are auto drivers who while away their time at a tea shop. In the Hindi counterpart set in Goa, the state merely provides aesthetic advantage. The tea shop is replaced by a joint called Martin’s Corner, probably an ode to the famous Goan restaurant. The blabbermouths are just unemployed idlers and don’t feel rooted.
The industry satire
Drishyam 2 (Hindi) isn’t subtle with its sarcasm. In the film, there are discussions on “what film works with the audience”, “Bollywood filled with corrupt people” and “how to write a hit script.” They do garner some laughs initially but it gets repetitive and downright irksome after a point. The Malayalam film also talks about the South film industry but it’s still in the context of the plot. The Hindi version’s writing seems desperate to connect with the masses.
Mohanlal’s Drishyam 2 takes its time to let the cat out of the bag. Each character is given a detailed backstory and their actions thereafter have more gravitas. For instance, Georgekutty’s wife Rani (Meena) isn’t just an overthinking, panicking homemaker (we are looking at you Shriya Saran). Rani has recently lost her father and is concerned about her mother’s health. She is also dealing with her rebellious younger daughter Anu (Esther Anil). Moreover, she feels distanced from Georgekutty. So, when a neighbour (who turns out to be shadow police) lends an ear, she speaks her heart out. Even the key witness, who sets the ball rolling in the sequel, is written well. Unlike the Hindi version, he doesn’t just kill an associate but his brother-in-law, which leads to his wife despising him. He turns police witness not just to provide for his family but also to mend relations with his spouse. In the Hindi version, this character seems very one-dimensional, motivated by just economic needs. The younger daughter Anu is also explored more in the Malayalam original. She has a boyfriend, who is actually a police informer spying on her. She is a teen with her own motivations whereas her Hindi counterpart is just a cardboard cut-out.
In the Malayalam film, Georgekutty replaces the boy’s body with a calf’s carcass. The bovine is substituted by a dog in the Hindi version, for obvious reasons. The story of Georgekutty’s script in the film has the setting of college campus politics which is replaced by a bar fight. It is evident that the Hindi version shies away from anything controversial.
Investigating officer IG Thomas Bastin (Murali Gopy) serves his purpose in Drishyam 2 (Malayalam). Still, he is no match to the energy Akshaye Khanna brings to the (chess) table. Akshaye as IG Tarun Ahlawat is a force of nature. He seems caricaturish and pulpy-entertaining at the same time. He serves as a solid nemesis to Ajay Devgn’s Vijay and it’s exciting to see them in a battle of wits. The IG’s version in the Malayalam version is more mellow and real. But Akshaye scores here on eccentricity and is more cinematically appealing.