Sampath Raj, Purnaa and Shafi chip in with effective supporting acts in the thriller helmed by Jeethu Joseph
Rambabu, a husband to a conservative homemaker Jyothi and father to daughters Anju and Anu, is a theatre owner who also runs a cable service in Rajavaram, Andhra Pradesh. The family is trying to move past a tragic incident that shook their lives many years ago. The case continues to haunt them psychologically, with regular rumours doing the rounds that the cops may reopen any moment. Their worst fears come true when IG Goutam Sahu lands at a piece of key evidence in the case. Will Rambabu rise again to protect his family in the hour of crisis?
Remakes are always aimed to recreate the magic of the original, but one can't always be fully sure of what worked in the favour of the latter. Especially, in the case of Drushyam 2 (the sequel to Drushyam, a remake of Mohanlal's Drishyam 2), it is only natural that the Telugu version would opt for a safe, tried and test route, going by the acclaim that the original got. Much like Venkatesh's earlier release this year Narappa (which was the remake of Dhanush's Asuran), Drushyam 2 is an almost frame-by-frame recreation of the Mohanlal starrer and stays extremely loyal to its source material.
While watching Drushyam 2, you're left unmoved - neither impressed nor disappointed. No doubt, it has an intricately woven plot that starts off at a leisurely pace and times its twists and reveals brilliantly in the final hour. You may marvel at the screenwriting of Jeethu Joseph (also the director) though one can't say the same about the execution. Despite the big names, passable performances and flashes of brilliance, the film doesn't rise above being a good carbon copy and stand on its own. Everything appears too rehearsed, staged and the emotional connect is amiss.
The director tries to create an air of nervousness, tension and anxiety in the first hour, delving into the aftermath of a tragedy that continues to haunt a family. The film isn't always gripping in these moments - like bits and pieces of leftovers of the first part (Drushyam) being stretched beyond necessity. The proceedings resemble a television soap and the conversations among the family barely hold your interest (Meena's over-the-top performance is a dampener). The old-school background score also doesn't help much.
It takes some time for a solid twist to spring back life into the narrative. The film gains good ground later, keeping a spectator glued with riveting twists and turns. Jeethu Joseph deliberately slackens the pace of the first half to maximise the impact of the tautly packaged final hour - a strategy that pays off to a certain extent. The film (like the earlier part) is great fun when Rambabu uses his underdog identity to his advantage, masking his intelligence and guarding his family against all sorts of trouble.
Drushyam 2 ends on a poignant note, emphasising that one may escape judicial punishment with tact and systemic loopholes but the psychological trauma after committing a crime is permanent and will haunt you as long as you breathe. Yet, the film works better when it relies on logic than riding on emotions.
When the first part of Drishyam was remade in Tamil as Papanasam (with Kamal Haasan, directed by Jeethu Joseph), it was as solid as the original, primarily, for it gave a renewed identity to the setting. With both Drushyam and Drushyam 2 in Telugu, the backdrop feels like a makeshift setup to tell the story and lacks its own flavour. Rajavaram could've been Ranivaram and nothing about the film would have changed.
The acting in Drushyam 2 is a mixed bag. Venkatesh is as composed and focused as ever, Meena hams like there's no tomorrow, while the likes of Kruthika, Suja Varunee struggle with their screen presence. It's Sampath Raj who is the surprise package. Beyond his stylish persona, the agility with his body language and exuberant dialogue delivery make him an absolute delight to watch. Purnaa and Tammareddy Bharadwaja's cameo appearances are a couple of casting decisions done right. Shafi is very good in a crucial role that, however, ends abruptly.
Vinay Varma as a wily cop deserved a better, well-fleshed out character. Naresh, Nadhiya, Satyam Rajesh, Esther Anil, CVL Narasimha Rao and Tanikella Bharani are effective in their brief roles. Annapurna, Thagubothu Ramesh don't get to do much. R Samala's dialogue is crisp and situational. The financial aspect aside, the decision to opt for an OTT release seems apt and timely - the film lacks the bite and appeal of the first part and is a decent bet for the small screen.
Drushyam 2 isn't completely engaging and may work for those who've watched the first part and know the backdrop of the story. As a standalone product though, the film doesn't create a stellar impact.
Drushyam 2 is a faithful remake with commendable performances by Venkatesh, Shafi and Sampath Raj. The film is a tad overlong and gains momentum only in its final hour. Jeethu Joseph's screenwriting is a class of its kind without doubt, though it doesn't translate into a gripping and impactful film always. A good one-time watch at best!