'Drishyam 2' movie review: How to get away with murder and take along the masses, again

The mystery thriller rises to the level of its prequel but doesn’t quite raise the bar
A still from the film 'Drishyam 2'
A still from the film 'Drishyam 2'

It is more riveting to witness a criminal hide a crime than to watch a detective solve one. There is something about murder and murderers that grips our base instincts. There is also the fascination. Where did he keep the body? How did he destroy the evidence? What did he do after the crime? These are intriguing questions, sure. But for those of us who have at least stolen a scented eraser back in the day, there is only one concern: Will he get away with it?

Remember, remember, the second of October. Vijay Salgaonkar (Ajay Devgn) and his family were accomplices in the murder, that of Sam, IG Meera Deshmukh’s (Tabu) son. They did go to Swami Chinmayananda’s Satsang, had four pav bhajis, watched a film, and stayed at a hotel, just not on the day of the crime. Drishyam (2015) was an edge-of-the-seat, get-glued-to-the-screen thriller.

More than that, it was a cheeky commentary on the visual medium itself. A class 4 dropout, who learned everything from films, executes the perfect crime, in a film. Anything can happen at the movies.

Drishyam 2, at times, does get mega on its meta-ness but it still retains the thrills. It has been seven years since Sam Deshmukh’s murder. Cinephile Vijay now owns a theatre. In his introductory scene, he is watching a film titled Qaidi and assessing if he should put it up on his screens.

After exiting the theatre, he tells a subordinate to go with a comedy film because “people don’t want to see a movie where the hero gets caught.” Vijay is also working on the story of a film which he frequently discusses with screenwriter Murad Ali (a smartly cast Saurabh Shukla who wrote Satya (translation: Truth). Both are stuck on the climax of the film. You know what you are in for.

Like a seed buried deep in the ground, the Salgaonkars’ crime is sprouting roots. And this time, Tabu has summoned the grim reaper of smoking-cigarette-in-the-rain detectives. Enter Akshaye Khanna as the new case officer. He plays chess with himself and doesn’t believe in chances (read: Ittefaq). In an intricately written sequence, he visits the Salgaonkars when Vijay is out.

Dressed in a corn-blue suit, Akshaye inspects everything like Philip Marlowe but those cold eyes behind the black shades reminded me of Tony Soprano. But sometimes he did over-intensify a scene by knitting together his eyebrows so much that I wanted to count the wrinkles on his forehead.

That aside, Drishyam 2 does make you delay that bathroom break. The tension simmers and becomes so thick that it can be cut with a murderer’s knife. It made me skip writing some notes for this review because I was so transfixed with what was playing on the screen.

The film ably sprinkles jokes and callbacks to the previous installment whenever the plot loses a bit of momentum, but it never derails from its track.

It also understands the possibilities and limits of cinema. In a scene, Vijay explains to a struggling actor, who is eager to work in his film, why he has published a book with the film’s story.

“The audience for a book and a film are different,” he says. Drishyam 2 doesn’t try to become literature. Like a great medium, it teaches the viewer how to consume it: “Focus on the visuals because words can lie.” Were you watching closely?

Cast: Ajay Devgn, Shriya Saran, Tabu, Akshaye Khanna

Directed by: Abhishek Pathak

Ratings: 3 out of 5 stars

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