09 Aug 2015 16:59 IST

High ‘five’ for Drishyam’s deception

With the Malayalam film ‘Drishyam’ tasting success in four other languages now, here’s an analysis on how it conquered regional barriers

With the Malayalam film ‘Drishyam’ tasting success in four other languages now, here’s an analysis on how it conquered regional barriers.

Drishyam, in its Malayalam version, hit the screens for Christmas 2013, like any other big-star release in terms of the theatre number but still in a surprisingly low-key fashion, which, for a fact worked well for the movie too.

The buzz took its time to register and slowly the word of mouth did spread like wildfire for unveiling a new genre of sorts, a family thriller.

The cinema fanatic streaks in the lead character, the toying with law for a family well-being and the common-man like treatment all along has now ensured its success not in one, but entirely five languages including Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Hindi.

The Mohanlal version, i.e. the original was expectedly more hitting as the first one to come out and even after the release of four other versions, a re-watch of the film shows that its narrative, the character histrionics are more at ease unlike the others, where you sense an element of consciousness in their parts before the big tragedy happens. The way the lead character Georgekutty dresses, talks and behaves is expectedly native, but the universal theme helped it reach people sans the language barrier.

The only other version of the film, which feels as rooted to its specific region and possessed a flavour of its own conveniently was the Tamil version, Papanasam, featuring Kamal Haasan and Gauthami.

Interestingly directed by the original storyteller himself, Jeethu Joseph worked well with dialogue-writer Jeyamohan to bring in the Tirunalavel dialect.

The use of the backwaters and so, the title as a means to wash away sins was also a notable inclusion.

It was rare that lesser known actors like Ananth Mahadevan and Asha Sharath weren’t quite behind in earning limelight. Understandably, it was only for this version that critics went on to name it an apt complement to the original.

The pauses between Kamal’s elaborations, the half-dead emotional expressions and the intelligent gleams despite bearing such a personal touch of an actor were good ingredients to a wholesome product.

The Hindi version, Drishyam, didn’t have a greatly bankable lead actor in Ajay Devgn, but it was with Tabu’s presence that there was some life infused.

Another intelligent addition to the version was the inclusion of an orphan adoption sub-thread from the daughter’s perspective and the ATM camera as part of evidence barring an otherwise plastic film that was crying for more emotion, which happens to be the case that aren’t tapped in most south-bound Bollywood remakes

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The Kannada and Telugu versions, Drishya and Drushyam, released in theatres quite early in comparison, a half a year from the Malayalam original, owing to which, you witness a full-fledged display of loyalty and trust on the script.

Engaging performances

The strength of the story bails them out as safe films with reasonably engaging performances from Venkatesh and Ravichandran, but there’s a certain degree of novelty, you wish to have seen, for the kind of actors and the scale you get to see.

All the films spanning three hours have the crux of its narrative unfolding in the latter half with superb doses of intelligence, with the way the investigations pan out, the interplay of right and wrong in the eyes of law and the use of a child protagonist in such key moments too. Another film that earned acclaim across several languages including Bengali, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada in a similar timeframe was that of Manichitrathazhu, another Malayalam original.

Probably, with the show of Malayalam films at the National Awards every year, it only highlights the zeal of the industry to embrace themes that are universal yet native in treatment.

(Republished via special arrangement with the Hindu Metro Plus)

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