Direction: Jeethu Joseph
Cast: Mohanlal, Meena , Kalabhavan Shajon , Siddique, Asha Sharath
There is line Jeethu Jospeh often repeats about what influenced him the most in his career as a film-maker. It is a piece of advice Shekhar Kapur, noted director, is said to have given to budding film-makers: if you want to be a successful in films, go against the rules of the industry.
In subtle but striking ways, Mr. Joseph seems to be following exactly what Mr. Kapur counselled him, including in his latest release — Drishyam . As he himself admits, it often works, though it doesn’t at times.
In Drishyam, it works without doubt and stunningly so as he tells the story of a farmer family in a high range village in Idukki. Its thread and treatment are new to Malayalam cinema in many ways. Its principles go against the set rules film goers here are familiar with.
And, it boldly puts forward a new sense of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ based on the honest convictions of a scrupulous man, which is obviously not in line with the existing criminal laws of the land. But to the success of Drishyam , the audience stands firmly with the convictions of its lead character, Georgekutty (Mohanlal), till the end.
The film, which takes off as a typical family drama, soon takes the viewers to an unpredicted sphere of suspense and anxieties, which make them sincerely want to somehow get the family out of the deep trouble.
The audience has a good time enjoying the lighter moments in the family of Georgekutty, a cinema-crazy farmer, who also runs a local cable network business while cherishing the dream of owning a theatre one day.
The script (by the director himself) and dialogues are taken straight from life. Having written in a smart and engaging manner, they give enough space for socio-political criticism while not being preachy. The fun, however, ends with a misadventure of a friend of Georgekutty’s elder daughter during a school nature camp.
The audience gets completely absorbed in the twist of events that begin to unfold from the end of the first half. The latter half of the movie is about how the family, despite the vengeful villainy of a corrupt cop, stands its ground even as the law takes its course. Unlike most other successful Mohanlal-starrers, Drishyam is no one-man show. Here, even the smallest of characters has a crucial role to play. Meena in her comeback to Malayalam as Rani (Georgekutty’s wife) , Kalabhavan Shajon as Sahadevan (The corrupt police constable) and Asha Sharath as Geetha Prabhakar (the inspector general), all have performed brilliantly.
It takes craft, intelligence, and the superior acumen of a genuine storyteller to pull off a film in such an engaging manner.
Drishyam can be interpreted in many ways, including as a film on parenting or one on the consequences of mobile phones misuse. But above all, it is a film that has brought a whiff of fresh air, confidence, and success to Malayalam filmdom despite having nothing “new generational” about it.