The 2015 Hindi thriller Drishyam ("Visual/The Sight") promotes the idea that "everything is not what it seems: visuals can be deceiving" - and promotes this idea aggressively.
The story centers around Vijay Salgaonkar (Ajay Devgn), his wife Nandini (Shriya Saran) and two daughters. A movie buff, Vijay runs a cable TV network in a remote and hilly village of Goa and spends his nights managing the accounts and watching films. An orphan and a fourth grade dropout, Vijay is a hard working man who treasures his family. He also has a strong moral compass and can't abide by those who openly abuse their power, including the local police sub-inspector Gaitonde (Kamlesh Sawant).
When an uninvited guest appears with the ability to shatter their lives, an accident occurs which threatens to tear the family apart. Putting his knowledge gained from numerous film plotlines to work, Vijay protects his family from the dark side of the law as they are pulled into a violent investigation led by Inspector General of Police Meera Deshmukh (Tabu) and fuelled by Gaitonde.
What makes this film work is the tense build-up to a surprising climax that no one sees coming - except for Vijay himself, who clearly orchestrated everything.
As Vijay, Ajay Devgn is appropriately cool and calm in the face of the threats to his family. His reputation as an honest dealer and his ability to provide a believable alibi confounds the police. His absolute belief in the strength of story to become fact is impressive and is ultimately the thing that saves his family. His love for his family is reciprocated through the trust his wife and daughters put in him and his counsel even in the face of extremely hostile intimidation by police officials.
As Meera Deshmukh, Tabu is calculating and quietly threatening. She knows how to abuse criminals to get them to confess - it is all in a day's work for her. What keeps her grounded is her husband, who holds her accountable in her role as mother and wife. He also connects her to her humanity and reminds her that she isn't above the law. As she digs deeper into the facts offered by Vijay and his family, she uncovers disturbing information that raises more questions.
As Sub-Inspector Gaitonde, Kamlesh Sawant is a continual threatening undercurrent in the life of Vijay. He is Ajay's worst nightmare - an opponent with power and many a bone to pick - who happens to be in the right place at the right time to allow him to implicate Ajay in activity that could destroy him and his family.
A remake of the 2013 blockbuster Malayalam film featuring Mohanlal, this version sticks to the original storyline fairly closely. It is focuses a bit more on the struggles of the various characters as they maneuver through treacherous circumstances. For example, when the police initially show up at the Salgaonkar home, the camera focuses a bit longer on Anu's fear and emotional breakdown as her father provides a physical barrier between her and the officer.
The film includes a disturbing scene of brutal violence against the family at the hand of the police - something that may hit a raw nerve in western audiences given the numerous videos that have emerged highlighting unwarranted police violence.
Ultimately, the film doesn't try to address the morality of the actions taken by the characters - it leaves that to the audience. Rather, it asks you to consider what lengths you would go to protect your family.
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