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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Ahead of Drishyam 2, decoding the universal appeal of Mohanlal’s Drishyam

Drishyam inspired remakes in Tamil (Papanasam), Kannada (Drishya), Telugu (Drushyam), Hindi (Drishyam), Sinhalese (Dharmayuddhaya) and even in Chinese (Sheep Without a Shepherd). And all of them did outstanding business at the box office.

Written by Manoj Kumar R | Bengaluru |
Updated: February 18, 2021 10:33:05 pm
mohanlal Drishyam 2Mohanlal in Drishyam 2.

The first question that came to my mind when Drishyam 2 was announced was — why wouldn’t director Jeethu Joseph leave Georgekutty and his family alone? Didn’t the family not suffer enough already? Also, what was the need for a follow-up film? Didn’t Georgekutty tie up all the loose ends and buried the secret where cops would never go digging? Where was the space for another tale mired in more deception, more lies and endless cover-ups?

In a conversation with earlier, Jeethu made it very clear that Drishyam 2 is very different from its predecessor. He has taken the premise and principal characters of the first film but has placed it in a different genre. While Drishyam was a crime thriller, the sequel is a family drama. “I thought what would be the reaction of society to that crime? Georgekutty has been accused of a crime and now people are realizing that there is something (fishy) about it. There is no smoke without fire, right? People start gossiping,” he said.

Here we are, after seven years, again ready to witness how the family is living with the secret. But, before that, let us consider the question of why did Drishyam in 2013 become such a phenomenal success? Good Malayalam movies getting remakes in other languages is not something unheard of. But, one can’t guarantee that the remakes would re-create the same success as the original film, a feat Drishyam achieved effortlessly.

The film inspired remakes in Tamil (Papanasam), Kannada (Drishya), Telugu (Drushyam), Hindi (Drishyam), Sinhalese (Dharmayuddhaya) and even Chinese (Sheep Without a Shepherd). And all of them did outstanding business at the box office and also received a lot of love from the critics.

What is it about this simple story that captured the attention and imagination of the people world over? It is because the story of Drishyam gave life to the worst nightmares of the middle-class, and wrapped it up as an edge-of-the-screen film.

Jeethu does an extraordinary job in registering the social strata of Georgekutty from the very beginning of the film. The protagonist never misses an opportunity to remind us that he was an orphan and came from poverty. he turned the tables by his hard-work and prudence. Brick by brick, he built his life from the scratch. He owns farmland and a house, where he lives with his wife and two daughters. He is living the great Indian middle-class dream; in a way, he is a stand-in of a large part of audience. The director introduces an outsider who threatens to take away his life’s work and all that’s precious to him. And Jeethu intensifies this nightmare, by pitting the family of four against the might of the police machinery. Now, we got a classic David vs Goliath theme. And obviously, we want the helpless family, relying only on their wits, and fortitude in a fight that is seemingly rigged against them, to win against the towering authority.

The success of Drishyam in international markets has shown that the middle-class everywhere have similar values, desires and fears. The themes in Drishyam are universal. This predicament of the Georgekutty family evokes a very primal response from every member of the middle-class society across the world. And that’s why we root for the protagonist and are ready to forgive him for breaking every law to protect what we all consider precious: the family unit.

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