DRISHYAM 2 – Are you ready to delve into Georgekutty’s vision?

Official Poster of Drishyam 2

Hi again!

So, most of you already know that the original Malayalam language film, Drishyam is back with a sequel– DRISHYAM 2. It’s currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

 I, being the dedicated Malayalam film buff had to watch it the day it was released. Having watched it, the first thing I’m going to do is write about it here. But let me tell you it’s not exactly going to be a review. I’m not that fond of writing reviews. Who am I to judge other people’s work? So, just consider this my journal where I mostly write down thoughts I get while watching something. This page is for the stuff that ran through my mind when I was watching Drishyam 2 and some stuff that lingered on my mind, afterward.

Warning – Although I’ll not be writing the spoilers, at least not consciously. It might still give you an idea of what the plot is all about. So, I warn you to proceed with caution !

The first film ended with Georgekutty ( Mohanlal ) leaving the newly established police station with a flashback revealing the secret that solely belongs to him in the cinematic universe of Drishyam. In the real world, we, the audience now know that he had buried the body on grounds of the police station itself.

All I can say is the end of the first film and the beginning of the second film takes place in the same place and night. That fateful night in that police station. Georgekutty wasn’t alone but he doesn’t know that yet. Who was the other person and why wasn’t he seen in the first installment of the film is for you to find out.

The timeline of the main plot of the story is set to 6years after the incident. Georgekutty is revealed to be the owner of the film-theatre. Throughout the entire run of the film, you hear that he is going to be a film producer and he keeps paying a visit to a scriptwriter whom he is paying a lot to write a story that is his idea. But Georgekutty keeps delaying the start of his film production for 3 years because he is not happy with the climax.  Why so? The answer to this question is crucial to the plot and it’s also the reason behind Georgekutty’s unbroken confidence. The answer is wrapped up in the last of the twist.

As the plot unfolds, our quest to find out his real life and his film’s climax grows stronger. The fact that there’s still no climax to Georgekutty’s real story and his film’s story makes you wonder if they are connected. You will have questions- Does his film based on his own life, especially the unfortunate incident? You’ll start to have questions within a question. Why would he make a film out of that incident and expose himself? There’s a lot of Whys. Some you’ll figure out and some you won’t until the end. That way, it will hold your attention by its grip till the end.

Image Courtesy - Amazon Prime

The first half of the plot deals with George’s family’s struggle to adjust to life post the incident. Georgekutty may not live in that much fear of being discovered because unlike his family, he is not just simply being on this uncertain ride; he is in fact on the driver’s seat, controlling the car. The fear has got to his elder daughter, Anju ( Ansiba Hassan), and wife, Rani ( Meena ) with the younger daughter, Anu (Esther Anil) shown as having nerves of steel much like her father. The second half, however, is shown from the perspective of the police force. It deals with their quest to find the truth, leading to their subsequent struggle to keep up with Georgekutty who has always been five steps ahead of them.

The first film ended with the clue being given. We know where the body is buried. Yet we will feel an element of mystery and suspense as our mind will be tricked into believing there must be more to the clue and the story. That’s the magic of Jeethu Joseph‘s screenplay writing and also direction. The dialogues are thought-provoking. It makes you think about it. It’s certainly from a writer who is a keen observer of people’s behavior and he gave those behaviors a form with his dialogues so that you can interpret them easily.

One such dialogue still lingers on in my mind at this moment.

[ The one who committed the crime would never say it.  Who will be in trouble because of that? That person indeed.

But that’s not the case with people who know about the crime. They can make mistakes. As years pass, the possibility of getting it from them keeps increasing.

What’s the reason? Their fear would reduce. Confidence would increase. ]

This dialogue was quoted by the new IG Thomas ( Murali Gopy) who is secretly reinvestigating the case. He is waiting for somebody to spill the beans. He believes that somebody could either be the family member of Georgekutty or someone who has seen something but hasn’t realized so far.

Thomas’s attitude to solving the case reminds me of Agatha Christie‘s quote from one of her books.

” Everybody always knows something. Even if it’s something they don’t know they know. “

This is not the only thing to have reminded me of Agatha Christie. There are lot more things. Truth be told, I thought the writer’s modus operandi itself reminds me of Agatha Christie. I have never seen anyone else coming this close to her fineness when it comes to suspense thrillers.

The film also shows how the public changes their opinion depending on their mood. In the first film, they were against the police force because of constable Sahadevan’s mistreatment towards Georgekutty’s younger daughter. These same people are now co-operating with the force because their sentiment towards his family has changed with the change in his sudden financial and overall growth.

The film also focuses on how two mothers dealing with their respective struggles.

In the first film, we had seen Varun’s mother, Geetha’s (Asha Sharath ) struggle to deal with Varun’s disappearance. As she wasn’t aware of his accidental death, she didn’t know what to expect. Being the IG, she was used to discovering dead bodies and investigating them, but being the mother of a missing son, she was living in fear that she might discover her son but not in living condition. She was clueless and angry but holding onto hope even though her guts told her he wasn’t alive.

Georgekutty’s confession covered in metaphors at the end forced her to accept the truth that Varun is not going to come back to her. She was freed from her fear and suffering, only to be pushed into agony. In Drishyam 2, we see her living with a quest to find her son’s body and to take revenge against the entire family of Georgekutty. The rage kept her going. She is living only for that. She felt that she owes it to her son.

On the other hand, another mother, Rani is still struggling to adjust to life post that unfortunate incident. She feels deeply about it but she stays strong for her daughter, Anju who is a nervous wreck. She is also sympathetic towards Geetha’s situation but unable to help her. She is still living in fear. Fear of losing her child if the body is discovered. Not knowing where the body could have been buried meant she is unable to guess whether there is a possibility of the body being discovered. She is not freed from her fear and anxiety, unlike Geetha. Her life lacks mental peace.

Rani’s situation also reminds me of Agatha Christie’s quote from her book, Death comes at the end.

” Fear is incomplete knowledge.”

In the film, there was a song ” Ore Pakal “ that describes Rani and her family’s situation.

I’ll write down a few lines from the same song, translated into English.

” Will the dark memories vanish like a rain drying up?

Or have our silences become too heavy with burden?

 The future awaits…

Thus life endlessly moves on….and on.. “

Georgekutty was arrested with the discovery of the body but he got away with it again. How was the body found and how did he get away with it again? Well, answers to these questions will be answered by the same answers that will answer the other questions I asked a while ago. Even though he was triumphant in his attempt to save his family again, you will feel sorry for Geetha and her husband for their loss, once again but there’s nothing one can do.

Just like the Judge in the film said to the IG after Georgekutty’s acquittal.

[ Everybody knows the truth but… can’t prove it. In reality, both these families deserve justice. But we will never be able to deliver that Justice to them. ]

In the end, I look at Georgekutty and thought of Sisyphus. He and his family’s constant worry is a perfect embodiment of Sisyphus’s eternal punishment for eluding his fate.

Anyway, I think the makers just invented a concept – ” Clue within a clue and twist within a twist “. I liked it very much and I’m pretty sure you too will fall in love with it if you’re into suspense or psychological thrillers.

That being said, I have to say, I have watched so many psychological films from so many parts of the world but very few can match up to the standard of Malayalam films. They have mastered the art of psychological thrillers or dramas. They have always managed to come up with a fresh plot and their realistic approach is commendable. I can name a few examples like Fazil’s Manichithrathazhu (1993) and Poovinnu Puthiya Poonthennal (1986), Padmarajan’s Innale (1990), Lal Jose’s Classmates (2006 ), etc.

Before I sign off, I must tell you that Satheesh Kurup‘s cinematography was a delight to watch. His sense of light, colors, and framing will communicate with you. That’s for sure.

P.S: I think I may have given you a lot of clues. I hope you’ve not cracked it because I genuinely want you to watch it and experience the thrill ride that Jeethu Joseph is going to take you on.

PADMARAJAN , who ?

Today, I am writing about Padmarajan and his film Innale, which is a Malayalam film released in the year 1990. Before I write about that, let’s talk about why I picked Innale and begin my first blog with it.

To answer this, I need to tell you something about me. I am an avid cinephile , so I often travel around the world through cinemas. Yes, you read that right. Funny? Not a problem. But it’s true that cinemas can take you anywhere you want , not physically, but you’ll be mentally transported. Through cinemas, I have visited  a lot of regional places of India and abroad. I have learnt about cultures, traditions, fashion, food, literature, dance, music, art and society of various places through this medium. You name it and it’s there. So, every once in a while, I get into a phase when I am always talking about cinemas of particular state or country. Presently, I’m into malayalam cinema for the past three months, for the third time in my life.

This year, my malayalam phase started with a recent film, Varane Avashyamund which rekindled my passion about everything malayalam , once again. This film made me focus on Shobana, whose charm then transported me to her 1990’s film , Innale , directed by the legendary film-maker P.Padmarajan.

Varane Avashyamund had the same pair – Shobana and Suresh Gopi, who worked together in Innale 30 years ago. Just that they didn’t have longer screen time in Innale as the film focused more on Shobana -Jayaram, but the impact that her pairing with Suresh Gopi had on people was profound.The way, director handled the subject of Amnesia so realistically in Innale is something you will not even find in cinemas of 21st century. Malayalam cinema and especially, Padmarajan was way more ahead of his time. That’s what I’ll talk about in this blog.

Basic plotline – Film opens with a bus accident in the middle of the night in a small rural settlement in Kerala. All the passengers died on the spot, except a few. Only one of them survived without any serious physical injury but suffered Amnesia. She is Maya. No one including herself knew who she was and where she was from. No one came to claim her despite the efforts to search for her identity. This film deals with how the girl with no past moved on and became Maya , with the help of Dr. Sandhya and her son, manager of the hospital, Sharath. There was a heartbreaking twist at the end when her husband from her past, Dr. Narendran appeared.

CastShobana as Maya/ Gauri ; Jayaram as Sharath; Srividya as Dr. Sandhya and Suresh Gopi as Dr.Narendran.

I’ll now dig deep into Padmarajan’s style and understanding of cinema using Innale as an example. Let’s break down this cinema into four aspects : Character’s Pyschology ; Storyline and Editing ; Acting and Detailing ; and, Sound and Music.

Character’s Psychology

When I say character’s psychology, I don’t just mean the main character’s psychology. I’ll talk about human psychology in general with respects to both major and minor characters in Innale . From what I observed, I think Padmarajan sir’s strength was in understanding emotions and behaviours .

 I say this because he not only handled sensitive emotions relating to the subject of amnesia without making it too dramatic but also shown a minor character like a poor native man unable to resist the urge to steal a woman’s jewellery while she lay unconscious by the waterbank, before taking her to a hospital. This scene of the native man is not of any importance to the main plot, but he added it to make the sequence of story seem realistic and smooth , not rushing anything. Had he not shown any natural behaviour from a minor character, it would not feel as real as it did when transitioning to next scene.

We also see in a scene post the accident, the dead bodies covered with sheets lay on the hospital floor , cut to next shot, where Dr. Gafoor trying to save a patient and Dr. Sandhya standing by the hospital window, her hand covered in medical gloves soaked in blood. He kept the frame on close shot in which we see Dr. Sandhya by the window , then camera follows her and zooms in on her face as she slowly turns around, her face looked pale and eyes hinting at her helplessness while she was coming to terms with her own realization of the fact that she has failed to save even one patient, out of all the 37 that was brought.

The main character , Maya , didn’t remember her name. Maya wasn’t her name. When she regained her consciousness and was able to stand on her own feet, she was given the name Maya by Sharath. She responded by saying that the name suited her situation. As soon as he left the room, she thought of poking once again into her memories so that she could learn something about her past. All she could find there was pieces of visuals from delirious dream  she had before regaining her consciousness few days back, other than the memories post the accident. That didn’t help, so she let it go once again.

Every scene was created and handled with utmost care in respect to the character’s emotions and behaviours, without complicating them. Unlike Padmarajan, most film-makers of his time had the tendency to complicate psychological dramas, making the genre prone to melodramatic effect. He made sure that his amnesia patient act like one, not remembering a thing from her past ever again, unlike similar characters of other people’s film where they would suddenly get their memory back just by looking at a tree or something.

Storyline and Editing

Padmarajan’s sense of sequencing the images in scenes are spectacular. There’s not a shot or a scene that will throw you off the track. It was that smooth.

He started the film with a scene where there was a chaos , villagers moving to and fro, in a pitch dark stormy night, helping the people in uniforms carrying the body from the accident spot to the ambulances, parked far away from the remote location . Just like Maya, we too don’t know what happened before the accident. Maya’s past is as much unknown to us as it is to Maya.

Maya’s unconscious body was discovered by the native settler the next morning, separating her from the other unfortunate passengers, making her the special character. From there onwards, we follow the story , empathizing with Maya, following her as she follows the cues her life post the accident offered her. Initially, she clung to her desire to find her past but in vain. No one came to claim her. Time passed by her.

 Her subsequent attachment to Sharath soon overpowered her longing for her past. Just as things started to look normal for her, Dr. Narendran, her husband , who lived in US arrived in India in search of his missing wife. Her past is revealed to us through Narendran’s eyes . It wasn’t much of a past . Her life before her marriage to Narendran was almost as meaningless as having  no past. Her name was Gauri. She and Narendran was married for only a month before the unfortunate accident. So, she wasn’t missing out on much. That’s when our empathy was slowly directed towards Narendran.

 He flew down to Kerala as soon as he found her whereabout to take her away. This is when you’ll be torn between who to emphatise with, at the end. When you think of Maya, you know she has finally learnt to let go of her quest to know her past ; there’s no point in telling her that she had a husband, who she will not remember but will be forced to think of him, leaving her newfound sense of belonging with Sharath, which helped her moving on. However, thinking of Narendran will make you understand that even though Maya remembers nothing from her past due to which she cannot deeply miss it ;  Narendran, who remembers everything ends up being the one suffering. Just like us, he too will feel the void but he being the kinder and wiser soul, decided not to reveal to her who he was and what he came for. He simply left his Gauri so that she could be Sharath’s Maya, an identity that’s a part of her recent past and present , which she created with her new memories. The film ended with him running off in a car , with Maya and Sharath looking towards the direction his car was heading. We see a perplexed Maya and relieved Sharath .  

Each and every shot focused on the emotions of the characters on the frame, which we understand from their behaviours. That’s how Padmarajan created a cinematic universe with each scene revealing something about the character’s intention, impulses, emotions etc. 

Acting and Detailing

First I’ll say that the casting was perfect. Everyone acted as realistically as they could. Out of them all, three actors has attracted my attention more so because of their detailing when it came to acting. I already knew that three of them – Shobana , Srividya and Suresh Gopi are terrific performers , but I have always thought their skills haven’t been properly utilised by majority of the film-makers. Padmarajan is one of the very few directors who had been able to utilize their acting skill to full potential.

There was a scene with Shobana as Maya ,regaining her consciousness completely for the first time , not recognizing anyone or anything. On waking up, she looked confused and kept on saying that she couldn’t recall her name. Her expression clearly portrayed the state of mind Maya was in. It looked as though her mind was blank leading to confusion followed by a mild agitation. It was so natural.

In one of the scene where Maya lay unconscious in the hospital bed, someone from the travel agency was called to identify her. He couldn’t identify yet wouldn’t leave easily once he lay eyes on Maya. This irritated Srividya’s Dr. Sandhya. Srividya, without uttering any dialogue, looked at her wrist watch and nodded her head subtly at Sharath to express her irritation at the fact that this man was wasting her time and Sharath should take him away, now. Perfect detailing once again.

Suresh Gopi’s Narendran , at the last scene, when he arrived at the place Maya was staying,  looked straight at smiling face of his Gauri, thinking that she recognized him until the very next second when she asked Sharath ‘ What took them so long to come ‘? instead of asking anything to Narendran , who she didn’t recognise. Subtle expression in Gopi’s face when his hope of sporting a broader smile was cut short by her question, suggested how his hope was shattered in that moment  he faced the harsh truth .

Sound and Music

I understand that sound and music is something that the technicians and composers deal with. But I have observed that Padmarajan’s cinema always have serene music , something that I like. That’s something I have noticed in his other film also. He surely had some say in the choice of music and sound he used.

This cinema , particularly had a beautiful background music in some scenes post the accident scene. It was a lingering music in the morning scene , which makes you feel dejected and helpless as if you know something worst has happened but you cannot do anything about it. So you go along with the sense of void in you. It gave that kind of feeling. Perfect pick.

That’s PADMARAJAN , for you !

P.S : I know I wrote more about Innale than about Padmarajan . It’s because there’s no Innale without Padmarajan. He was best known for his screenplays. It has always been full of cinematic storyline, dialogues and wonderfully developed characters. He was keen observer of human behaviour which was visible in his cinema.