It really hurts when an exceptional regional classic DRISHYAM (Malayalam) along with one of its outstanding remake PAPANASAM (Tamil) is proudly included in BTC’s Movies To See Before You Die list with a special mention, but its Hindi remake manages to get only above average ratings and mixed responses from the critics as well as the viewers due to its less energetic making and execution.
It further hurts when this ‘thanda’ Hindi remake has also been directed by a reputed name, whose meaningful MUMBAI MERI JAAN already features in the same must watch list at the site.
And it even hurts more when the film features actors like Tabu and Ajay Devgun with contributions from Gulzar, Vishal, Rekha, Rahat and more failing to generate anything even close to the original and its well-adapted regional remakes very surprisingly.
With all honesty, the Hindi version of DRISHYAM gives me no energy to write about it in details being the weakest remake. And having praised its original & an equally impressive regional remake at length, I need to talk about it in a different manner, re-charging myself and informing you about the entire phenomenon behind this indicative word called ‘DRISHYAM’ (meaning The Visuals).
It actually started in late 2013, when I was told that a Malayalam film had broken all previous box office records in the region and was being praised and written about by almost everyone in the south media inventing a new genre termed as ‘Family-Thriller”. Luckily the film was being played in Delhi too in a nearby multiplex so I rushed to watch it feeling the pull, but was informed that it didn’t have any English subtitles resulting in a big disappointment.
Anyway, while reading more about the film the same night, I went through the names of a novel “The Devotion of Suspect X” by Keigo Hiqashino (the third in his “Detective Galileo” Series), a famous Japanese TV series GALILEO (2007 & more), a Korean film PERFECT NUMBER (2012) and a highly appreciated Japanese project SUSPECT X made in 2008, supposedly having the original plot adapted by DRISHYAM’s writer-director Jeethu Joseph in his blockbuster Malayalam film.
So had to watch SUSPECT X essentially as my very next move and after seeing it, I felt short of words expressing the shocking impact it made and was simply left stunned by the mind-blowing stuff presented in those two hours amalgamating one sided devotion, affection, crime and cunning cleverness so beautifully.
And as a reference for all friends, this is what I wrote about the film, right away including it in BTC’s ‘Movies To See Before You Die’ list at the following link:
Post watching SUSPECT X, I kept thinking about how can they adapt it as an Indian film, how can they surpass such excellence achieved in terms of unpredictable storytelling and how can they even present the final brutal conclusion with a believable justification of any sort whatsoever in an Indian film having its own social restrictions and limitations.
With that kind of mindset, I bought the DVD of Malayalam Hit DRISHYAM (with subtitles) as soon as it got officially released in early 2014 and started watching it all alone in a dark silent night. And after those three hours of witnessing sheer cinematic magnificence with the flawless Mohanlal emoting on screen and all highly contributing performances together, I was once again left speechless, sitting still with my jaws dropped and all my preset notions about the adaptation, inspiration and copying shattered into pieces like never before.
In fact Jeethu Joseph’s original masterpiece taught me a new path that night…….. that how an inspiration can also be used to develop something highly original, even surpassing its actual source of origin unbelievably. Probably that is the reason why Ekta Kapoor is finding it tough enough to claim the ownership despite having bought the official rights for the original novel, “The Devotion of Suspect X”.
In short this can easily be termed as one of the rarest of rare cases when you very well know that its all inspired but still cannot claim the same, since it also is an original creation in its own form having many new unrelated insertions and story progressions moving on a different path, which is nothing less than a triumph achieved by the writer-director Jeethu Joseph without any slightest of doubt.
In the next few months, I recommended the film to many friends passing on the online buying link and received several thanks messages from those who chose to experience it at my strong recommendation. And with this I was pretty convinced that the maximum has already been achieved and the further remakes can easily be missed without any regret whatsoever.
But No, I was proved wrong once again, as there was one man coming with his own emotional and highly touching portrayal of the concerned, clever father next, who was none other than the master of his art, Kamal Hassan along with the original writer-director of the Malayalam classic Jeethu Joseph.
Here though I would prefer and rate Mohanlal’s approach in his film much more authentic and logical considering the actual demand of the specific character in the script. Still the fact doesn’t stop me to admit that Kamal Hassan too bowled me over completely with his soulful portrayal, simply killing it in the final sequence of the film that actually is the most crucial scene too, justifying the criminal act of hiding a crime committed unintentionally.
Making a confession, Kamal did made me cry in that concluding sequence along with an equally impressive Ananth Mahadevaan, forcing me to include PAPANASAM (Tamil) too in BTC’s must watch list (as a rare inclusion along with the original).
By this time, the release date of Hindi remake directed by Nishikant Kamat was out and where at one end I was excited to see Tabu in the IG’s role, I had my firm doubts on Ajay Devgun and 4 songs in the soundtrack released, not actually suiting the requirement of so intense and well written script frankly.
But then before watching the Hindi release, I decided to see the other two regional remakes too in order to find how two different directors had conceived it (other than Jeethu), amazingly resulting in a similar success at the box office winning hearts all over.
And watching the other two regional versions, where I simply loved the sensitive, controlled portrayal of Daggubati Venkatesh in DRUSHYAM (Telugu) along with the other key characters emoting superbly (following a scene to scene representation of the original), I had to appreciate the new small comic insertions in DRISHYA (Kannada) with much more emphasis given to Cinema and a worth noticing, introspective portrayal by V. Ravichandran getting into the character subtly. Hence though the Telugu and Kannada remakes need to be placed at the third and fourth place respectively (not included in the must watch list at BTC), they still brilliantly find the basic soul of the project in an impressive manner, specifically bringing forward A FATHER saving his small family from getting caught for the crime committed unwillingly.
Moreover deserving a strong mention here, it’s an intelligent background score that (more or less) becomes an individual character in all the four regional films with highly realistic performances from their entire cast ensemble enhancing the overall experience.
To give you the exact idea, apart from the lead character of the father, the storyline has four other main characters of the mother, the elder daughter (of 15-17 years), the younger daughter (8-10 years) and a Lady Inspector General of police.
And following the vision of what is termed as ‘perfect casting’, 2 of the above mentioned regional films had the same lady (Meena) playing the wife and 3 of these 4 regional classics had the same child artist (Esther Anil) cast as the younger daughter and the same fabulous actress (Asha Sarath) playing the tensed Inspector General of Police to perfection (she is simply excellent). (Even the IG’s son is played by the same boy in three films.)
Coming to the latest Hindi version directed by Nishikant Kamat, if I think about the experience of watching it keeping aside any of the film discussed above, then its not a bad remake in technical terms since it follows the original film frame to frame and with such a solid script-content is bound to make a decent impact on the viewers who haven’t seen or know nothing about any of the four regional movies made before the Hindi remake.
Using a fresh backdrop and a local feel it has got its impressive moments that obviously come in the final hour when the proceedings become high paced, intense and brutal too with police interrogation crossing all its extreme limits at the orders of its own IG. But at the same time, it doesn’t make any change in its slow first half, following the fixed format that was also pointed out as the weaker portions of the original by few critics. Still, despite the not so happening first hour, one might like it as a crime thriller that doesn’t allow the viewers to move in its concluding hour, offering many unexpected twists and turns keeping them thoroughly engrossed.
However it’s the missing emotions, lack of energy or fire, average performances, a loud-inconsistent background score, avoidable spoon-feeding and few unnecessary (ridiculous) commercial insertions that don’t let you rate the film more than anything above average or decent. Thankfully they use only two songs out of four (in the soundtrack) as required but fail to en-cash on the emotional aspect of the script that should ideally have been its key feature becoming a ‘family-thriller’.
As a bitter truth, the theme of the film didn’t require any kind of philosophical soundtrack both Vishal and Gulzar are known for. The weak acts of Shriya Saran, kids and more contribute a lot in its feeble impact. Plus confirming my doubts Ajay Devgn remains a miscast in the role of a clever minded, cinema loving father guarding his small family. Moreover the most disappointing feature remains Tabu, who doesn’t come up with anything even close to what was being expected quite surprisingly, whereas Kamlesh Sawant as the cruel sub-inspector scores the most.
In comparative terms, it seems DRISHAYM (Hindi) has been made hurriedly in some kind of available time with the star or team, without giving any major emphasis on solid characterizations as seen in the original. In clear words, where in all the four regional films, the actors seem like sinking deep into their given characters, the Hindi version has them all doing it as another of their professional assignment standing in front of the camera with no home-work done of any sort to play their given roles. Mentioning it specifically I didn’t find any concerning FATHER in Ajay Devgn or a MOTHER in either Shriya or Tabu disappointingly, that was supposed to be the main requirement of the script as my personal conclusion.
Anyway moving ahead, the latest remake also strongly raises a significant question that,
“How come the three versions of the original in South could deliver the content superbly but not the Hindi one despite having a reputed director, a talented cast and all necessary backing?”
Interestingly I found the answer to this question in the four ridiculous observations made while watching the Hindi remake mentioned below that surely brings down the intellectual level of the film quite severely:
1. Despite knowing that this is supposed to be a “Family-Thriller”, the makers still had the guts to throw in a mention of ‘Sunny Leone’ in some dialogues, spoken with all lust in the eyes and body movements. (Why? – Only they can answer!) May be since they couldn’t include her in person or in an item number, so decided to remember her in some lines written deliberately!
2. If my memory is working fine, then none of the four regional films had the girl’s secretly shot mobile video presented with some sick skin show. Then why the Hindi makers were very much interested in showing the naked back of a minor school going girl clearly? (Only they can answer!)
3. If I am not wrong then none of the four better films had some childish, filmy kind of entry given to the IG’s mature character interrogating some criminals like a typical 80s film. Then why the Hindi re-makers inserted this silly or bizarre sequence to introduce an IG? (Only they can answer!)
4. As I can recall, there is no mention of an adopted girl in the original and even in its remakes, but why such a clichéd reference of an adopted elder girl unnecessarily was included here in the Hindi version? (Only they can answer!) May be they didn't wish to show Ajay and Shriya that old!
Coming back to the original classic DRISHYAM (Malayalam), yes for a few it might have got an avoidable long build up (not for me frankly) and bloopers too. But at the same time its also one of the best crime thrillers made in Indian Cinema till date and strictly needs to be seen before any of its four versions, specifically the Hindi one. In fact the sequence should be the original Malayalam film (Mohanlal) followed by the Tamil one (Kamal Hassan), both written and directed by Jeethu Joseph being the key representatives of this brilliantly conceived theme of ‘family-thriller’ leading from the front.
Otherwise as always it all depends upon the choices we make in life that,
whether we will be okay or satisfied with a Hindi remake generating 60% of the original impact ...OR…. would like to go for the original masterpiece (with subtitles) generating a highly effective and well enacted 100% cinematic impact as rarely experienced before.
However, if for any reason you decide to watch the Hindi version first then you will never be able to get those unexplainable & outstanding, virgin goose bumps ever again going for the original later.
Moreover it would be like the case of a person tasting Masala Dosa in North India and loving it a lot with no idea of what it actually tastes (many times better) when made by the real creators down South.
Cheers to Great Cinema with HIS BLESSINGS
Rating of DRISHYAM (Hindi) – 2.5 / 5 (Gets 0.5 less due to the four silly insertions)
Note : Hope after DRISHYAM many passionate Hindi filmgoers get enlightened that in reality our Indian Regional movies and makers are miles, miles…..miles ahead than the mainstream Hindi Cinema in all respects.
(List of all the films in the series for your reference.)
Drishyam (2013 - Malayalam)
Written & Directed by Jeethu Joseph, feat. Mohanlal.
Drishya (2014 - Kannada)
Directed by P. Vasu, featuring V. Ravichandaran.
Drushyam (2014 – Telugu)
Directed by Sripriya, featuring Daggubati Venkatesh.
Papanasam (2015 – Tamil)
Directed by Jeethu Joseph, featuring Kamal Hassan.
Drishyam (2015 – Hindi)
Directed by Nishkant Kamat, featuring Ajay Devgn