Malayalam superstar Mohanlal’s 2013 thriller ‘Drishyam’, a riveting tale about a crafty father who covers up an accidental murder committed by his teenage daughter, had a watertight ending.
All the possible loose ends in which a middle-class parent Georgekutty — played brilliantly by Mohanlal — outsmarts a brutal police force by having strong alibis were tied up, eliminating the need for a sequel.
Even director Jeethu Joseph firmly believed that ‘Drishyam’, which has been remade in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, should be left untouched.
So, why tinker with a near-perfect mystery?
The director said he had a change of heart when he saw ‘Drishyam’ fans come up with their versions for a second instalment. The original ends with a ‘no body/corpse, no crime’ twist, where the police is unable to find evidence against Georgekutty or his family in the case of a missing police officer’s son.
“Immediately after ‘Drishyam’s’ release, people were asking me about the possibilities of a sequel. At that time, I didn’t think it was possible because the story ended so well in the original ... But then, people began creating their own ‘Drishyam 2’ and I read certain stories on Facebook about it ... At first, even my family objected to the idea of a sequel believing that it would destroy my name,” said Joseph in an interview with Gulf News.
But his producer Antony Perumbavoor nudged him to write a tentative first draft and six years later, Joseph felt ready to get started on the second part of his film. Even his family gave him the go-ahead, once they read his first draft of the sequel.
Excerpts from our chat with Joseph about working with Mohanlal, his sequel to an all-time blockbuster premiering on Amazon Prime Video on February 19, and writing stronger female characters in the second instalment ...
While ‘Drishyam’ is a near-perfect movie and still makes for an engaging watch today, have you updated the sequel to our current times? Are the women more empowered in the sequel?
A filmmaker can never make a perfect movie. After every shot, a filmmaker tends to find flaws in the treatment of a scene. So after watching ‘Drishyam’, I felt I could do several scenes better. Also, several policemen and the audience pointed out a few logical glitches where I thought my presentation was correct, but they didn’t agree. I have corrected those areas and have provided answers to them in this sequel … In ‘Drishyam 2’, Georgekutty’s family have more prominent roles. Meena’s role of the doting mother Rani has more weight now. Her character has seen an arc.
While ‘Drishyam’ was widely adored, there was a section of movie fans who felt the thriller glorified a murder cover-up and had an endearing lead character who turned unlawful to protect his family. There were reports of copycat crimes. Your thoughts...
People don’t get ideas from movies alone … The scene in which Georgekutty throws Varun’s mobile phone in a lorry bound for another state was an idea that I got from a newspaper article. Crimes happen in real life. For instance, when our police crack a real-life missing case and speak about how they solved the crime, you get ideas. And if somebody was inspired and took an idea from what’s shown in the film and replicated it in real life, then he’s an idiot. Films are just make-believe. They don’t work in real life.
‘Drishyam 2’, spearheaded by a superstar like Mohanlal, had theatrical blockbuster written all over it … But it’s releasing first on an OTT platform. Why did you decide to stray from the traditional theatrical route?
I wasn’t the one who decided to release it in this manner. My producer did, but he asked my opinion and I gave the go-ahead. If the COVID-19 pandemic had not struck, then we would have released it in theatres and then rolled it out on an OTT platform. It’s because of the COVID-19 situation that this film is not coming to the theatres first … Also if we release it in the theatres now, it would run for a week or a maximum of two weeks, and then somebody would just upload a pirated version online. I don’t want anyone to watch bad visuals and audio. Releasing my film on a platform like Amazon ensures that I have a large audience spanning 254 countries … But you will be missing one thing: the theatrical experience of watching a movie on the big screen … We will miss the clapping, the whistles and the gasps of surprise.
You shot ‘Drishyam 2’ during an ongoing pandemic. What was your experience like?
Our crew was around 100 people and we all got tested. Fortunately, not a single person tested positive. But we had to plan everything to the last detail.
Dubai-based actress Asha Sharath’s character as a tough cop who’s seeking answers about her missing teenage son was complex …
Yes, Asha’s character was complex. She’s a mother and a police officer at the same time. She’s bold and then there are times when she breaks down crying when she can’t find closure. She’s portraying the two sides of a woman. We have such characters in real life too.
“Working with Mohanlal is the easiest thing for a filmmaker because he’s a very relaxed person. He has no tension and if we are tensed, he will come and make it disappear. He has such a cool persona and is highly professional. He’s a director’s actor because you can mold him in any way you want. He is like water, you put it in any vessel he will take that form. This is why every filmmaker in India wants to work with him.”
Don’t miss it!
‘Drishyam 2’ will stream on Amazon Prime Video on February 19.