Drushyam 2 movie review: Venkatesh, Meena uphold Jeethu Joseph's writing for a faithful Telugu remake

Drushyam 2 movie review: Venkatesh, Meena uphold Jeethu Joseph's writing for a faithful Telugu remake

Drushyam 2 movie review: Venkatesh, Meena uphold Jeethu Joseph's writing for a faithful Telugu remake

Language: Telugu

Drushyam, directed by Sripriya, ends on a bittersweet note. The viewer is satisfied by the fact that the hero manages to escape, and cleverly so. The hero, on the other hand, closes his eyes, but not in relief. He is visibly pained, his bloodshot eyes failing/refusing to hide it. The audience is conditioned to leave a film as soon as they leave the theatre, but the person who created these characters doesn't have it as easy. Especially, if the writer is someone like Jeethu Joseph who puts great effort into creating meticulous worlds and emotionally sound characters. Even if I have my qualms with a sequel to what is arguably one of the best thrillers and endings of the past decade, this is how I understand the existence of this new film.

When we reenter Rambabu's (Venkatesh) world after six years, it looks different. The house is bigger now and Rambabu is a theatre owner, who is planning on producing a film. He is joking around with his wife, Jyothi, the way he used to, and she is pretending to be annoyed by him, the way she used to. The jab about success meets is rather funny-- R. Samala's dialogues are worthy of a mention. All seems well, except nothing is. People in the village are talking and not always behind their back. Anju, the elder daughter, is having issues with her physical and mental health, and Anu, the younger one, seems withdrawn. We see a family struggling to wipe the blood off their hands. They got away with murder, but it still happened. The memory is still fresh and the guilt is growing strong with each passing minute. What next?

Almost close to the pre-climax, Anju asks her father while cleaning his car, 'There isn't one scratch on the car, how are you this careful?' To which Rambabu replies, rather proudly, 'This is the fifth member of our family.' This casual exchange reestablishes Rambabu and the film superbly. He is careful in everything he does, and everything he considers family is protected at any cost. This unwavering belief of his' despite everything is what makes this film engaging. It also establishes Jeethu Joseph's ability as a writer. Rambabu is aware of the mistakes made by him and his family, yet stopping isn't a choice. Unlike Jyothi, who is slowly collapsing into herself, Rambabu cannot afford to stop. He needs to believe that he is doing the right thing, and he needs to move. The minute he stops, he is done for.

Venkatesh portrays this conflicted man perfectly. His weary eyes well up readily when Meena's character asks him for something he can't give. His lethargy is as believable as his superhuman foresight. The chemistry between him and Meena is enjoyable as well. And Meena is great as this woman who can only see the wall her husband seems to have built between them, not the intentions behind them. That said, the other characters, even the daughters, aren't given much to say or do. They are there to react. Nadiya and Naresh as the grieving parents are merely repeating the beats of the first film, but I think it's intentional.

For a psychological thriller masquerading as a family drama, the filmmaking is functional, at best. There is nothing unique about Sateesh Kurup's cinematography either. When the film is about to end, we see Rambabu walking in slo-mo, his head held up high, and we see a character who wronged him bringing her head down in shame. A moment later, Rambabu does the same when he passes Varun's parents. We understand what just happened as it is, but the film insists on explaining it over a voiceover, essentially diluting a poignant moment. Then again, you can't ask a writer to just show and not tell, can you?

I wouldn't call Drushyam 2 an inferior film compared to its predecessor. It is more methodical than it is emotional. It repeats the same threat, so the audience isn't as involved as they were for the first installment. But all those complaints vanish once you start looking at this film not as a sequel, but as the same film but from a different perspective.

You had your template thriller in the first film. Now let us imagine that the conflict isn't as easily resolved. Let's pretend that these characters are actual people who have to live after the film ends, and see what happens. The plot doesn't change, it is still a man trying to protect his family, but the people and the circumstances do. As such, it is a great experiment in cinema that dares to slow down and look inwards.

Jyothi is watching a film with her daughters. Anju watches a woman getting harassed on screen and she runs into her room. Only then do the mother and the younger sister realise the issue. Even if that day happened to all of them, and even if they still are a family, they each are fighting a different battle and they each are fighting it alone. For a filmmaker to understand this even if it means the audience won't get the happy ending they are looking for is highly commendable.

Rating: 3.5

Drushyam 2 is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video

Sankeertana Varma is an engineer who took a few years to realise that bringing two lovely things, movies and writing, together is as great as it sounds. Mainly writes about Telugu cinema.

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