There is no such thing as a perfect crime. The criminal always leaves behind his or her mark; whether that is discovered or not depends on a number of factors. However, in Jeethu Joseph's 2013 film Drishyam, the audience was left convinced at the end that Georgekutty (Mohanlal) had indeed pulled it off. He had hoodwinked the police forever and it was all over. But cinema is different from reality and crime has a way of catching up with the guilty.
And no one knows this better than the cinema-crazy Georgekutty who has learnt life lessons from the popular art, sitting in the small office of his cable TV operation. In Drishyam 2, a sequel that was highly anticipated with much misgiving by fans (how can that story possibly be continued?), Georgekutty and family receive an upgrade in life. It's six years since Varun's body was buried under the police station in Rajakkad, and nobody has a clue what Georgekutty had done though the police won't stop sniffing around him.
The family man now owns a theatre and also plans to make a movie although his cable TV business still exists. The two daughters are grown up. Anju (Ansiba Hassan) is a subdued college student while Anu (Esther Anil) is somewhat rebellious, her world widened by the posh St Joseph school that she now attends. Rani (Meena) is still the naive wife who picks on her daughters and isn't very happy with Georgekutty's plans.
But, beneath the surface of normalcy, the family is still scarred by what happened in the past. Jeethu paints a realistic picture of the trauma; Anju develops a medical condition because of it; Rani, the perennial worry wart, cannot rest without knowing where Georgekutty had buried the body; Anu, the youngest, has kind of moved on; but what of Georgekutty?
The opening sequence of the film establishes the holes in Georgekutty's carefully laid out plans. But even if viewers may be taken aback by it, Georgekutty isn't. He always knew it was only a matter of time.
It isn't just the family that has changed, it's also the people around them. Jeethu gets the psychology of the public right. If in the first film, the people of the small town were rooting for Georgekutty's family, horrified by the police's actions, in the second film, time has loosened their tongues. What really happened is a matter of gossip everywhere, the crime taking on colours of a legend.
Looking at the strength of the writing, it looks like in Jeethu's mind, Drishyam was always supposed to be two films. It's a tough ask to write sequels in general, but a sequel to a crime thriller where the crime is the same? That's a difficult tightrope to walk but Jeethu doesn't just walk, he sails through. The cast doesn't let him down. The actors will have you believe that they never stepped away from the set of the first film, seamlessly stepping into the shoes of their former selves.
Other than the family, Drishyam 2 has a few other characters from the first film. Ex-cop Geetha Prabhakar (Asha Sharath) and her husband (Siddique), Varun's parents, of course; Sulaiman (Kozhikode Narayanan Nair) and his tea-shop setting; Antony Joseph (Antony Perumbavoor), the sub-inspector of the station, and a few others. But there are also a host of new characters, including Saritha (Jeethu cleverly uses Anjali Nair's penchant for doing wan woman roles) and her abusive husband Sabu, film writer Vinayachandran (Saikumar), and Thomas (Murali Gopy), the new Inspector General of Police who is after Georgekutty.
The evil and vengeful Sahadevan (Kalabhavan Shajon) isn't in the picture but we know that the police are hot on the heels of Georgekutty. Despite the absence of a strong villain, the sequel still works because this isn't just about the anatomy of a crime, it's also about the blood it draws from the living.
As with the first film, Jeethu takes time to establish the premise. A character who holds the key to the mystery is oblivious to what really happened. Jeethu dangles him in front of us tantalisingly. Will this be the moment when Georgekutty is exposed? The background score is understated, and even if the screenplay seems to jump awkwardly in a few places, the suspense makes us forgive the small flaws.
We know all the tricks that Jeethu used in the first film to blindside us but he still manages to do it in the sequel. The courtroom scene (Adv Shanthi does a credible job as Adv Renuka) mirrors a crucial scene from the first film; it marks the moment when everyone realises (the audience included) that Georgekutty has pulled the rug from under our feet yet again.
As we break our heads wondering how he did it, Jeethu reveals that though he had arranged all his characters on a board that resembles snakes and ladders, a game that's dependent on luck, Georgekutty was playing chess all along. Take a bow, Jeethu.
Watch the trailer of Drishyam 2 below:
The film released on Amazon Prime Video on February 19.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.