The disadvantage of being a remake that comes after the Malayalam original and the fine Tamil remake is that you have a hard act to follow. And director Nishikant Kamat does not match up to the suspense and emotion delivered by Jeethu Joseph’s Drishyam or Papanasam, which are suspiciously similar to Keigo Higashino’s Japanese novel ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’.
Ajay Devgn plays Vijay Salgaonkar who runs a local cable TV service in a village is Goa state. He lives with his wife and two daughters. Vijay spends most of his nights in the office watching movies and his days dining at a local tea stall. We are repeatedly told that he is fourth standard failed and highly uneducated. Yet he has street smarts and a good heart – or so we are told.
Life is fine and flourishing until a young man begins to blackmail his older daughter leading to an accidental death. Vijay now takes it upon himself to cover up the crime and protect his family from the law. He learns his tricks from the movies he has been educated by (a device well explored in ‘Papasanam’ but squandered by Kamat).
Matters are made worse by the fact that the dead boy was the son of Inspector General Meera Deshmukh (Tabu). Meera is a hard-hearted law enforcer who is more determined to prove the Salgoankar’s have something to do with her son’s disappearance than focus on actually finding him. A display of emotion and vulnerability comes too late from Meera.
Tabu’s performance elevates the otherwise average experience by leaps, even though she is fettered with high-speed shots, wide steps and a disturbingly well-fitted khaki uniform to indicate her power position.
The actors playing the principal investigating cops, including Vijay’s nemesis, the corrupt local sub-inspector Gaitonde (Kamlesh Sawant) add able support and make up for a weak front line led by a stiff Ajay Devgn, a totally miscast Shriya Saran as his wife (more concerned with looking alluring and glamorous than convincing the audience that she is a good mother and loving wife) and two child actors who need to be better prepared for complex roles.
Since this is a remake of a staggeringly successful film, you wonder why Kamat needed to reinvent the wheel and rob it of its emotional heft and uniqueness. In one scene Meera makes the connection between Vijay and cinema and you think now things will get interesting, but the much needed head-to-head is passed over. While the first half is quite a plod, the second half delivers the twists making ‘Drishyam’ a satisfactory watch, at best.