To begin with, let’s address the obvious. This is the nth remake in Telugu cinema this year. The question remains about the relevance of remakes in a digital era when the originals are easily available to watch on OTT. Drushyam 2 , the remake of the Malayalam film Drishyam 2 (which also premiered on the same digital platform earlier this year), takes a direct digital route to release on Amazon Prime Video. The digital release has been prompted by business-driven reasons, considering that a large section of the audience has not patronised the theatres post lockdowns.
- Cast: Venkatesh, Meena, Nadiya
- Direction: Jeethu Joseph
- Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
The remake follows the same trajectory as the original and is nearly a scene-to-scene recreation. Director Jeethu Joseph and cinematographer Sateesh Kurup do the honours for the sequel remake (the 2014 Drushyam was directed by Sripriya and filmed by S Gopal Reddy).
How much one enjoys Drushyam 2 depends on whether one has watched the original. The jaw-dropping twists in a crime thriller masquerading as a ‘simple family story’, to quote the protagonist’s words, may not evoke the same reaction for those who know the story. The conversations in the neighbourhood, on the streets, and in a nondescript eatery are all the same.
Drushyam ended with the whistle-worthy moment of Rambabu (Venkatesh) walking away from the police station, confident that what he did to save his family will not be found out. In his interviews earlier this year, the director admitted that he thought the story was over. However, the sequel is a great example to show how a riveting continuation can happen, leveraging on the lesser-explored psychological impact of crime.
So we have Rambabu, his wife Jyothi (Meena), and their two daughters living in the shadow of fear and guilt. The societal dynamics come into fore in the idyllic village as people look at them with suspicion. Rambabu had people’s support as a cable TV operator. Six years later, we see him as the owner of a theatre and planning to venture into film production. The jealousy that accompanies his growth makes life tougher for the family.
Just like the first edition of the film that began in a languorous pace before moving into a thriller mode, this one too begins in a family drama format, though there is a sense of something eerie. We are introduced to characters ranging from a couple with domestic abuse issues, an erstwhile convict trying to start afresh and win over his family, and the new allies of Rambabu in the business of cinema. A few of these characters become a foil to explore the aspects of crime, punishment and repentance.
With the remake remaining unflinchingly loyal to the original, the onus to make it worthwhile for those who know the story, falls on the shoulders of the actors.
A pat on the back for Meena for effortlessly slipping into the milieus required for both Malayalam and Telugu; she looks the part of the native woman in both languages. Esther Ilias, too, reprises her part following the same path.
But Drushyam 2 primarily rests on Venkatesh, who puts forth a restrained performance. In Narappa , the remake of Asuran , he had those heroic moments to show his fury. Drushyam 2 allows him no such leeway and he plays along as the common man who can be stealthy when needed. Now and then he mouths dialogues about his passion for cinema, film production or smirks after saying something on the lines of, “they are trying to teach me about cinema,” and the self-aware humour doesn’t go unnoticed.
Drushyam 2 also benefits hugely from its supporting actors — Satyam Rajesh, Shafi, Sampath Raj and Vinay Varma as the cops, Tanikella Bharani as a screenwriter... the list can go on. Nadiya returns as the unforgiving parent and V K Naresh makes an impact in his limited screen time; most of the credit goes to how the character is written. In a poignant scene, he desperately seeks help and voices the agony of a parent wanting closure to a loss.
Moments like these, as well as Shafi’s strained equation with his family, add up to make the crime saga even more impactful.
(Drushyam 2 streams on Amazon Prime Video)