Drishyam 2, Where is the Body?
The film is a successful sequel to Drishyam, thanks to good direction, smooth cinematography and excellent editing
One steps in to watch a sequel, specially of a thriller, wondering what new details will be revealed since the case was closed in the original version and there is nothing left to say. But in this case, there is a problem that can raise its ugly head even seven years after the crime. It is the missing body of the victim which was never found and the person held to have been guilty of the crime is free.
The case is not really 'closed' though who sought it to be opened again after seven years is never clear. It appears that Mira Deshpande (Tabu), the then chief of police, whose son Sam was killed, comes from London every year to hold a shraddh for him. That the son's body was never found, has triggered the re-opening of the case as Deshpande is convinced that Vijay Salgaoncar (Ajay Devgn) is responsible for it. Suspended police inspector Gaitonde, knows who is responsible.
The two daughters have also grown up, the elder daughter suffers from fits from the shock she had to live through with the brutal police torture she had to go through under the command and the eyes of Deshpande. Deshpande keeps on that she had underestimated Vijay Salgaoncar's sharp intelligence as he was "fourth class pass" but he too, had no idea about a mother's revenge.
But is this because she is a mother whose only son has disappeared from the face of the earth? Or does it spring from her obsession with "justice" which distances her from society and ultimately drives her into a painful catharsis? Tabu is brilliant as the cruel, ruthless and brutal ex-top-police chief trying to destroy not only Salgaoncar but his entire family to avenge her son's untimely death.
Mira Deshpande in both the original and the sequel along with her obedient inspector Gaitonde, reminds us of the 1950s American police thrillers which dealt with cops whose failings sprung not from any moral weakness but from rigidity and excessive zeal. Deshpande comes across as a vengeful mother, an unsuccessful police chief and, a "retired" cop who convinces the serving police cheif (Akshaye Khanna) to torture Salgaoncar's wife and elder daughter in his presence to force him to confess to the camera. Does he?
The plot twists from here and goes on to a nail biting closure. The audience cheering with every game Salgaocar has up his sleeve and the fun is, he does not reveal them himself but the secrets topple out of his creation of a carefully manipulated plan to meet with any future continuance of the mystery of Sam's missing body which, he was sure would come some day.
The film opens with a chase that happened seven years ago with a man who accidentally murdered his colleague trying to hide from the police. He accidentally witnesses Salgaoncar walking out of a construction site with a shovel in his hand. This is to offer a backgrounder to link it to the present where we see Salgaoncar now running a successful theater in the town without having stopped his video library.
Meera Deshpande's character, stands as a sharp counterpoint to Salgaocar's wife Nandini (Shriya Saran)'s absolute stupidity. Which this writer feels, can be interpreted as an insult to the average woman's intelligence who says that demonetisation means 'lack of moral values', even as her two growing daughters are giggling at their mother's ignorance.
Salgaoncar makes no move to make his wife wiser to the ambience of fear they live in. This makes her confide innocently to her neighbor Jenny. She does not suspect for a minute that this battered housewife is planning to trap her into a confession.
Salgaoncar's sharp wit which saved the family from certain capture seven years ago, has reduced his "loving family" to become an unwitting victim of it now. It has forced his wife and two daughters to remain trapped in an ambience of panic.
One wonders why the new police chief (Akshaye Khanna), in charge of the reopened case of the missing Sam Deshpande, is so subservient to Meera Deshpande and cruel enough to break every law in the book to force Salgaonkar to confess to where he hid the body.
When Salgaoncar points out that torturing his wife and daughter is against the law, the police chief nonchalantly claims that if people like Salgaoncar can break the law, so can the law enforcers! What kind of logic is that, pray? But Akshaye Khanna, who is a fixture these days playing the cool cop, is sharp, intelligent and witty.
The film keeps the suspense going because of the speed at which one event telescopes into the next. Devgn keeps up the cool customer act right through. His patience breaks only when he is forced to watch his wife and daughter being physically tortured by a policeman. Without Devgun, the film would not be what it is. Shriya Saran is very good as the panic stricken wife and mother of two daughters.
The background music is a bit too loud, because it is suspense that holds the narrative in its strong grip, making music secondary to the action. "It is not what you see but what you perceive" is Salgaonkar's bottom line and he strongly believes in the power of what you hear as being truer than the power of what one hears, and this is brought across through the film.
The cinematography moves smoothly from the streets of a Goan city to the small tea-shop run by the old Parsi owner who adores Salgaoncar. It takes the audience to the bungalow in which Salgaoncar and his family live, and shows streets captured in top angle shots, and the police station which is much more than a police station. The editing cuts into each scene with a sharp knife, filled with jerks to convey 'shock'. The scenes of the turbulent beach in the opening scenes form a sound frame of reference, and are a metaphor for the sequences that follow.
Director Abhishek Pathak's style, combining location footage with archival material, builds a complex, and personal portrayal of the new story with the same characters, now just older.
The film pays homage to the memory of Nishikant Kamat who directed Drishyam but passed away before this film was made. Pathak who has directed Drishyam 2, has done a successful sequel, minus the sugar syrup dripping family drama in the first half which sometimes reminds you of Rajashree Films family melodrama. The film is all about the question, "where is the body"?