By any yardstick, the 2013 blockbuster Drishyam is a hard act to follow. Writer-director Jeethu Joseph’s crime thriller starring Mohanlal, Meena, Asha Sharath and Siddique was so well-rounded in the writing and execution of its murder-and-subsequent-cover-up mystery and such a box-office superhit that it was remade in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and Kannada, headlined by some of the biggest male stars of those industries, in addition to foreign revisitations in Sinhalese and Mandarin.
At the time, Jeethu was questioned about his script drawing on Japanese novelist Keigo Higashino’s The Devotion of Suspect X, but he denied the charge and said he was inspired instead by a real-life incident. Be that as it may, Drishyam 2: The Resumption is all the redemption he needs.
In the sequel, which opens six years later, we reunite with Georgekutty, now the prosperous owner of a cinema theatre, his wife Rani (Meena), and daughters Anju (Ansiba Hassan) and Anu (Esther Anil). There are visible changes in their lifestyle. Georgekutty drives a fancy car, the younger daughter goes to an expensive school, and they all look a little sleeker. But the residue of that death lingers over them, like miasma, lifting and settling, but never going away entirely. Can you kill someone and get away with it? Does your moral centre shift? How do you live with yourself if you have blood on your hands?
Those unsettling unanswered questions imbue this follow-up, and make it more than just a police procedural. As viewers, we know right from the outset where the body is, because we were made witnesses in the original film. And we see that the family hasn’t really been able to put that incident behind them. The person most impacted is the elder daughter Anju, who suffers from epileptic fits, and who starts shaking whenever she catches sight of cops. Rani spends all her time watching over Anju like a hawk, when she’s not holding up the spirits of her new neighbour, who has an abusive husband.
Things start speeding up when the case is re-opened, and a bunch of characters, both familiar from the first film and freshly added to the plot, stir up trouble. The parents of the dead boy, especially the enraged mother (Asha Sarath), a former cop herself, are demanding closure-cum-retribution. An eyewitness from six years back, conveniently having gone missing all these years, pops up. Is this the end for Georgekutty, who has been busy trying to produce a film and giving ideas to a well-known scriptwriter?
Mohanlal is spot-on as the man who is in a spot. Georgekutty’s past as a movie lover (he used to run a cable TV service and spent all his spare time watching thrillers) has led him to be where he is. We get some amusing throwaway remarks about him waiting to release ‘Mammootty films’ in his theatre. And the idea that real life can imitate reel life is still a pivot this time around. Mohanlal holds the film together, never letting his easy, relaxed mien sag into a frown, never letting down his watchful guard, even when his co-actors sink occasionally into loudness and obviousness. Yes, the noose is getting tighter, but
Georgekutty is always going to be one step ahead of the law. It’s not easy to craft murder-mystery sequels. ‘Drishyam 2’ jumps over the familiarity hurdle by broadening its ambit on crime and punishment. If the victim was not a ‘good’ person, does the killing carry as much weight? Equally, can terminating a life, even if accidental, ever be justified? ‘Drishyam 2’ is a solid, satisfying sequel.