By Niranjana Hariharanandanan Feb. 22, 2021
Drishyam 2 is a convincing sequel and once again Georgekutty’s Mohanlal does everything he can to shield his family. We see a vulnerable side of the classic criminal mind. The film’s climax can be underwhelming but that doesn’t stop you from rooting for GK and his family with as much vigour as you did earlier.
I know this film is going to be good even before I sit down to watch it. It’s all my fellow Malayalees – the family WhatsApp groups and friends – have been going on about. My mind is already coloured with “what a twist in plot!”, “how can you still not have watched it?”, and “Mohanlal kidu”, translating to the Malayalee badge for awesome, from absent eavesdropping on social media. Finally on Sunday – more than 48 hours since Drishyam 2 released – I fixed a date with Georgekutty, the man who’ll go to any lengths to protect his family.
Drishyam 2 takes the story of the cable TV operator, who hoodwinked the police investigating the muder of Varun Prabhakar, his daughter’s classmate whom she accidentally murders while fighting a sexual assault, forward. As the first couple of scenes unfold, I’m already waiting for the penny to drop. Only it doesn’t. Not for the next 60 minutes at least. I’m left wondering what Mohanlal’s Georgekutty and director Jeethu Joseph are going to pull out of their hat this time.
Drishyam 2 opens up to a better life for GK and family. The cable TV operator has moved up in life and owns a movie theatre and is working on his first feature. The younger daughter Anu is in an English-medium school – a step-up that comes up in one too many conversations – and takes to mumbling in English to her exasperated mother Rani, whose character hasn’t got an upgrade. The older daughter, Anju, is a dutiful Malayalee Catholic who chops her vegetables perfectly, helps around the house, and has perpetually subdued since her misadventure with Varun, the pampered son of Inspector-General of Police Geetha Prabhakar.
But all is not rosy in Georgekutty’s house. Anju deals with psychological baggage from the events of the last six years – the killing, the hiding of the body, and the intense cat-and-mouse chase with the police continues to haunt her. She has an episode of fits; the sound of a passing police siren causes panic and rattles silences in the family; Georgekutty never lets his guard down. His eyes are watchful, often tense, as he repeatedly forbids the family from discussing the night from six years ago. We only see him let loose when he’s passionately discussing the nuance of filmmaking while drinking with a friend (who later turns out to be a friend with benefits *spoiler alert*). He wants to be seen as overconfident and self -assured, but all I’m left feeling is sorry for GK. Mohanlal does Georgekutty’s character proud. He’s vigilant even when he’s not, and gives the classic criminal mind who would do anything to save his family a vulnerable side. We all want him to get away with murder.
He wants to be seen as overconfident and self -assured, but all I’m left feeling is sorry for GK.
The family had the town’s empathy six years ago, but that seems to have changed when Georgekutty started to climb the social ladder. They are the recipients of knowing smirks and jibes. Neighbours sit with copious cups of tea and time mulling over the past, blaming it on Anju and her relationship with Varun that went south. They now suspect that something is fishy. The cops always leave conversations with GK with a knowing “kaanam” meaning see you soon. Then Murali Gopi makes his entry as the newly appointed IG Thomas Bastin, the local Poirot, who wants to reopen the case.
Unlike Georgekutty who is undeterred, the rest of the family is struggling to cope. Rani has found her faithful sidekick in her neighbour Saritha, the wife of a drunkard who attends prayer meets, has sleepovers when GK is away, and a couple of heart-to-heart conversations where Rani nearly gives the game away. Who can blame her though? GK is seemingly an expert in pushing things under the carpet and Rani needs an agony aunt.
The first half is peppered with a couple of red herrings – GK has installed CCTV cameras in his new theatre, to suit with his upgraded life. He keeps peering into them and I’m wondering what it is that he is searching for. Anu, the younger daughter, spills the beans on their family secret to a boy she’s presumably dating from her school. And while you’re inwardly groaning and urging her to stop going down the predictable rabbithole, Jeethu pulls the rug from beneath you and gives you the first (and only) twist in the tale: Whatever happened to loving thy neighbour?
This is when things pick up dramatically and we see the wheel turning in Jeethu’s mind to deliver a convincing sequel, and he does so for the most part with a flashback from the prequel, some brainstorming on a white board, and tech-upgrade by the cops who have been listening in on GK’s conversations at home for the last two years. There are some clever lines thrown in: “Orikkalum kandupidikilla ennoru confidence undu, athu namalku nallatha (There’s an overconfidence about him that he can never be caught, and that’s something the police can capitalise on)”. The trap is laid firmly this time. Will their cover be blown? I’m still left with a sinking feeling in my stomach. There’s only an hour more to wow me with a climax, Drishyam style.
GK has made friends in all the right places, convincing for the Drishyam die-hards who would clap at GK’s four years of planned genius.
Things go south for Georgekutty and family from there on. We see Mohanlal’s eyes widen in fear for the first time, when he is rushing off to save the day yet again. He turns to the family and tells them to lock the door and stay indoors until he comes back. There’s nothing to worry, he says. I’m torn at the irony of it. GK is sure to make it, but at what cost? What is all of this trauma doing to the mental health of his already frail family?
We reach the climax and courtroom drama pretty quickly. From here on, the film only has a couple of minutes to go and my nerves are in a bunch for GK and for my prescription of Indian film virtuoso. I have been waiting for this moment for far too long now.
But when it comes, with only 15 minutes to go to the finish line, it all seems a bit underwhelming. GK has made friends in all the right places, convincing for the Drishyam die-hards who would clap at GK’s four years of planned genius. It’s a little unconvincing for people like me, who now realise that he is going to be on tenterhooks for the rest of his life, waiting for the next missile that will set his family off, a feeling I’d been toying with for the last 130-odd minutes.
Fortunately, for me, Jeethu mirrors my thoughts in the last moments of the film, and there’s a line on greater justice. GK’s biggest punishment is that he’d spend the rest of his life preparing for the next ordeal. The director ends the film on Georgekutty, the architect of brilliance for the second-time around who is observing his puppets from behind the tree, and my heart goes out to him. I hope that he finds real closure in the sequel that’s being hotly debated. Because I certainly can’t make peace with this.
Niranjana loves a good book, Fridays and all things that are innately Japanese. She has 88 pairs of shoes and hopes to beat Imelda Marcos some day.