Review: ‘Drishyam 2’ (2022), starring Ajay Devgn, Tabu, Akshaye Khanna, Shriya Saran and Ishita Dutta

December 2, 2022

by Carla Hay

Shriya Saran, Ishita Dutta, Ajay Devgn, Yogesh Soman and Akshaye Khanna in “Drishyam 2” (Photo courtesy of Yash Raj Films)

“Drishyam 2” (2022)

Directed by Abhishek Pathak

Hindi with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in the fictional city of Pondolim in India’s Goa region, and briefly in London, the dramatic film “Drishyam” features an all-Indian cast representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A family with a terrible secret about the death of a young man becomes the focus of suspicion again when new clues are uncovered. 

Culture Audience: “Drishyam 2” will appeal primarily to people interested who are fans of the movie’s stars; the first “Drishyam” movies; and crime dramas with unusual plot twists.

Kamlesh Sawant and Tabu (center) in “Drishyam 2” (Photo courtesy of Yash Raj Films)

In order to fully appreciate the crime drama “Drishyam 2,” viewers need to have seen or know about what happened in the original “Drishyam” movie—a story about a family keeping a scandalous secret about a dead sexual predator/blackmailer, and how the parents of this deceased man will do whatever it takes to uncover that secret. (This review has spolier information about the first “Drishyam” movie, which is necessary to discuss “Drishyam 2.”) “Drishyam” began as a 2013 Malayalam-language film and was then remade into 2015’s Hindi-language “Drishyam” film. A Malayalam-language “Drishyam 2″ movie (also known as Drishyam 2: The Resumption”) was released in 2021.

The Hindi-language “Drishyam 2,” released in 2022, is a remake of the Malayalam-language “Drishyam 2.” It’s a dependable remake of a movie sequel that didn’t really need to be remade. Most people who don’t know how “Drishyam 2” ends will be impressed by the clever and very unexpected plot twist, which is not far-fetched but could actually work in real life.

Directed by Abhishek Pathak, the Hindi-language remake of “Drishyam 2” (which was co-written by Pathak and Aamil Keeyan Khan) is more intensely dramatic than the Malayalam-language “Drishyam 2,” which is also a very good film with fine performances from the cast members. One of the main reasons why the Hindi-language version of “Drishyam 2” has a more urgent tone is Devi Sri Prasad’s musical score is very pronounced in creating suspense. The movie’s cinematography and editing look worthy of being seen in a movie theater, compared to the Malayalam-language “Drishyam 2,” which was released directly to Prime Video and has some very TV-movie production characteristics.

The “Drishyam” saga is a tale of two feuding families in the fictional city of Pondolim, India. On one side of the feud is the Salgaonkar family: Vijay Salgaonkar (played by Ajay Devgn), his wife Nandini Salgaonkar (played by Shriya Saran), and their two daughters: Anju Salgaonkar (played by Ishita Dutta) and Anu Salgaonkar (played by Mrunal Jadhav), who’s six years younger than Anju. Vijay, who is passionate about movies, owns Mirage Cable Networks and a movie theater. He’s also an aspiring movie producer. On the other side of this feud are wealthy businessman Mahesh Deshmukh (played by Rajat Kapoor) and his wife Meera Deshmukh (played by Tabu), who has had a career in a police law enforcement.

This version of “Drishyam 2” picks up in 2021—seven years after the events of the first “Drishyam” movie, with the principal cast members reprising their roles in this sequel. In the first “Drishyam” movie, which takes place in 2014, the Salgaonkar family covered up the death of Sameer “Sam” Deshmukh (played by Rishab Chadha), the only child of Mahesh and Meera Deshmukh. Sam had secretly recorded a video of Anju (who was 18 at the time) taking a shower. Sam threatened to make the video public unless Anju or her mother Nandini had sex with Sam.

In a physical fight to get the video, Anju accidentally killed Sam while her mother was in the same room. Nandini helped Anju bury Sam’s body in the family’s backyard. Anu witnessed the murder and cover-up. Vijay wasn’t home at the time of this manslaughter, but when he found out what happened, he helped destroy evidence, in order to protect Anju and Nandini from being arrested.

Meera Deshmukh was Pondolim’s police inspector general at the time. She immediately became suspicious of the Salgaonkar family’s involvement in Sam’s disappearance and had the family arrested. However, with no body found, it couldn’t be proven that Sam was dead. A twist at the end of the movie revealed that Vijay had tricked the police and moved Sam’s body somewhere else. Where he moved the body won’t be revealed in this review.

In “Drishyam 2,” the Salgaonkar family’s secret is constantly at risk of being exposed. Seven years after Sam’s disappearance, he is presumed dead. Meera is angrier and more vengeful than her husband Mahesh, who is more inclined to show some mercy on the Salgaonkar family if they just tell Mahesh and Meera where Sam’s body is. Mahesh makes this personal plea to Vijay when they happen to see each other in person, but Vijay continues to lie and say he doesn’t know what happened to Sam.

Vijay is close to fulfilling his dream of making a movie. And the movie he wants to make is about what he and his family went through when they were accused of foul play against Sam. Vijay has hired a screenwriter named Murad Ali (played by Saurabh Shukla) to write the movie’s script. At Mirage Cable Networks, Vijay continues to work with his assistant Jose (played by Prathamesh Parab), who is buffoonish and provides some of the movie’s comic relief.

Vijay and Nandini have some tension in their marriage not only because they are burdened with keeping this dark family secret but also because Vijay is heavily in debt because of the money he put into making the movie. Nandini thinks the movie is a bad idea because it will just bring unwanted attention to the family all over again. Many people in their community still suspect that Salgaonkar family was involved in Sam’s disappearance and the cover-up.

Meanwhile, Anju (who is now a 25-year-old college student living on campus) has developed post-traumatic stress disorder because of this secret. She has terrible nightmares and panic attacks. During the course of the movie, Anju is on a college break and is staying at her parents’ home.

“Drishyam 2” opens with a flashback scene of something that happened on the night of October 4, 2014. A man named David Brazagna (played by Siddharth Bodke) has met with a thug named Tony (played by Vineeth MV) to hand over a travel bag full of cash to Tony. David tells Tony after this handoff that he doesn’t want to do the job anymore, so David tries to get the cash back from Tony. A scuffle ensues, and David shoots Tony dead and flees with the cash.

Police officers nearby respond to the gunfire shots, and David runs away through the woods and hides. David makes his way home, where he has a wife named Mary (played by Ashmita Jaggi) and a toddler son named Agnelo (played by Pakshal Jain). David knows it’s only a matter of time before the police come to arrest him. And he is arrested for the murder of Tony. The movie later shows that David saw something important that night that is related to the Salgaonkar family scandal.

Meanwhile, in 2021, Vijay and Nandini have become disturbed when they find out that the married couple living next door is involved in domestic violence. The two spouses are Shiv Kulkarni (played by Nishant Singh) and Jenny Thomas (played by Neha Joshi). According to what Vijay and Nandini see, Shiv is an angry drunk who beats Jenny.

Vijay and Nandini intervene by calling the police and reporting the domestic abuse. Shiv is eventually arrested. Nandini and Jenny become friends, and they confide in each other about their marriages and other things. Nandini lets her guard down and lets it slip to Jenny that she knows more than she’s telling about Sam’s disappearance. Will this semi-confession come back to haunt Nandini?

Sam’s mother Meera, who is now retired from law enforcement, is still filled with vengeful rage over his presumed death. Certain things happen that jumpstart the investigation and put the Salgaonkar family on the radar of the police again. Meera uses her clout with her former colleagues in the police department to put pressure on the Salgaonkar family. The police currently investigating the case include a cynical inspector general named Tarun Ahlawata (played by Akshaye Khanna), a logical inspector named Vinayak Sawant (played by Yogesh Soman) and a hotheaded inspector named Gaitonde (played by Kamlesh Sawant).

“Drishyam 2” has enough intriguing plot developments that the movie’s total running time of 140 minutes is well-earned and doesn’t look like a waste. However, this movie biggest weakness is that it will confuse a lot of viewers who don’t know anything about what happened in the first “Drishyam” movie. “Drishyam 2” has some flashbacks that explain some key plot points, but some of those flashbacks sometimes a little too late in the story. All of the movie’s cast members give performances that range from better-than-average (Devgn as the complicated Vijay) to competent (most of the cast) to overly dramatic (Tabu as hate-filled mother Meera).

Despite the movie’s flaws, “Drishyam 2” will keep viewers guessing until the very end about what will happen next. It’s the type of thriller that sometimes attempts to be too tricky for its own good. However, the story explores themes of guilt and redemption in the context of leaving it up to viewers to decide who deserves to be punished and who deserves to be forgiven. By trusting viewers to make up their own minds, “Drishyam 2” offers a much more interesting story about human complexities than if the movie had been a simplistic tale of good versus evil.

Yash Raj Films released “Drishyam 2” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on November 18, 2022.

Review: ‘RK/RKAY,’ starring Rajat Kapoor, Mallika Sherawat, Kubbra Sait, Ranvir Shorey, Manu Rishi Chadha and Chandrachoor Rai

July 26, 2021

by Carla Hay

Rajat Kapoor in “RK/RKAY” (Photo courtesy of Outsider Pictures)


Directed by Rajat Kapoor

Hindi and English with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place primarily in an unnamed city in India, the comedy film “RK/RKAY” features an all-Indian cast of characters representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: After killing off the hero character in his most recent film, an independent filmmaker is frustrated and alarmed when the hero character takes on human form and infiltrates the filmmaker’s life to protest his on-screen death.

Culture Audience: “RK/RKAY” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of Indian cinema that takes a satirical look at the art of filmmaking.

Mallika Sherawat in “RK/RKAY” (Photo courtesy of Outsider Pictures)

Although it can get a little too repetitive, the comedy film “RK/RKAY” offers a mostly breezy film-within-a-film story that parodies the cliché of “bringing a character to life.” This low-budget, independent Indian film can be considered a viable alternative to people who want to see something other than a typical Bollywood formula. Underneath the comedic antics is an effective portrait of someone going through a mid-life crisis who is afraid of becoming so irrelevant to everyone around him that he will eventually be “erased.”

Rajat Kapoor, a longtime independent filmmaker, is the writer, director and star of “RK/RKAY,” which was financed mainly through crowdfunding, after Kapoor got tired of getting rejections from potential investors to make this movie. In “RK/RKAY,” Kapoor plays two roles: (1) an independent filmmaker named RK, who has just starred in his recently completed movie (whose name is never revealed in “RK/RKAY”) that he wrote and directed and (2) Mahboob Alam, the hero character of RK’s movie.

The Mahboob character is a protagonist in a “Pink Panther”-type of comedic thriller movie that is set in the 1960s. Mahboob, who is 45 years old, has a moustache that’s very much like the type that Peter Sellers’ bumbling Inspector Clouseau character had in the “Pink Panther” films. By contrast, RK is clean-shaven and wears glasses.

RK thinks of himself as a suave intellectual, while Mahboob was created to be somewhat of a goofy character. RK writes and directs all of his films, so he’s very adamant about protecting his “artistic integrity.” RK gives the impression that he won’t take other people’s advice if they think something should be changed about his movies before the movies are completed.

To fully appreciate “RK/RKAY,” you should have a tolerance for very “meta” films. Anyone who gets easily confused by movie-within-a-movie films that are a wink and a nod to the filmmakers’ real-life experiences probably won’t enjoy “RK/RKAY” very much. The movie is a madcap whirlwind that taps into a nightmarish fear that some screenwriters might have but rarely dare to put into their work: What if a character created by the screenwriter became more popular than the writer?

In “RK/RKAY,” that fear becomes a reality for RK, whose has recently finished filming a movie where the hero Mahboob dies at the end because Mahboob was killed by the villain. RK is proud of the fact that he completed the film ahead of schedule (it was done in 36 days on a 40-day production schedule) and under budget. Toward the end of the film shoot, RK and the crew celebrated his birthday.

The film’s producer Goel Sahab (played by Manu Rishi Chadha) is fairly new to the movie industry. Goel’s main way to make money has been in the construction business. Goel expresses concerns to RK that the hero dies at the end of the movie. Goel asks RK later, “If the hero can’t stay in the film, why would the audience stay?”

Goel is also worried about the movie being in two languages (Hindi and English), because Goel thinks it will be too confusing to the “common man.” RK listen to Goel’s fears and assures this new film producer that he knows what he’s doing because he’s been making movies for years. But the issue about Mahboob getting killed will soon be a problem that no one involved in this movie can ignore.

As RK begins the stressful process of overseeing the film’s editing, in order to make the movie’s October 15 release, his workaholic ways seem to have taken a toll on his personal life. RK’s wife Seema (played by Kubbra Sait) and their son Vivan (played by Abishek Sharrma), who’s about 7 years old, were on the film set to visit RK on his birthday and were also at the on-set birthday party that the film crew had for RK.

The family members seemed to have a good time at the party. But on the ride back home that night, Seema and Vivan are emotionally distant from RK. Vivan tells RK that he doesn’t want to ever want to come back to the film set. RK accepts that decision. And later, when RK and Seema are getting ready to bed, she makes it clear that RK won’t be getting an intimate love for his birthday.

“Be nice,” RKAY says, “It’s my birthday.” Seema coldly replies, since it’s after midnight, “Your birthday’s over now. Why do you want to make this film?” RK responds, “I don’t know.” Seema than says with not much emotion, “Happy birthday.”

The iciness between RK and Seema seems to thaw somewhat when they have lunch together at a cafe, but RK has to cut the lunch short when he gets an emergency call from production assistant Namit (played Chandrachoor Rai), who is in a panic. All of the filmed footage with Mahboob is now missing. RK rushes to the editing room to find out what happened.

When he gets to the editing room, the film editor (played by Anhjeeet Deshpande) and producer Goel both confirm that the footage is missing. And members of the film crew also report something bizarre: Mahboob was seen as a real person leaving the film set. The movie shows that Mahboob hailed a taxi to go to a train station.

When Mahboob got to the train station, he couldn’t board it because the ticket he has is fake, because it was a ticket invented by RK. A dejected Mahboob stays at the train station until Namit tracks him down. It’s here that Mahboob reveals why he came to life and wanted to run away: Mahboob objects to being killed off in the movie, and he won’t come back to the film set until RK agrees to reshoot the film so that Mahboob can live.

The rest of the movie shows how Mahboob infiltrates RK’s life as a way to protest being killed off in the movie. Mahboob shows up at RK’s home and quickly endears himself to Mahboob’s wife Seema, son Vivan and daughter Rabia (played by Grace Girdhar), who’s about 9 years old. Mahboob cooks meals for the family, and predictably, RK starts to feel like an outsider.

Meanwhile, Mahboob charms producer Goel and other members of the film crew. It doesn’t take long for Mahboob to convince people to be on his side. And so, people involved in making the film try to persuade RK not to kill off the Mahboob character. Mahboob becomes more popular than RK with RK’s family and co-workers. And naturally, this doesn’t sit too well with RK, who feels very disrespected.

One day, when Mahboob is at RK’s house, RK tries to exert some of the power that he feels slipping away. RK shouts at Mahboob: “I gave birth to you!” Mahboob replies in a bid for sympathy: “I;m your child!” Soon after, RK mutters to Seema about himself: “What a failure you must be if even the characters you write don’t listen to you.”

Further complicating matters, in RK’s movie, Mahboob owed money to a crime lord named KN Singh (played by Ranvir Shorey), who is the movie’s chief villain. Shorey also has the role of the actor named Ranvir, who plays KN Singh in RK’s thriller movie. Because Mahboob has gone “missing” from the movie, KN Singh comes to life and goes on a manhunt to find Mahboob in the real world. “RK/RKAY” gets a little messy at this point, but RK has a devious motive for wanting Mahboob killed in the real world: RK doesn’t want to change the ending of his movie.

Will Mahboob die or survive? Will RK get the ending he wants? That question is answered in the movie, where the last 10 seconds of the film will reveal what really happened to conclude this story. It’s a plot twist that’s an example of how viewers need to see an entire movie in order to make a fully informed judgment about it.

Because “RK/RKAY” revolves around the RK and Mahboob characters played by Kapoor, much of the movie’s appeal has to do with his knack for making these two look-alike characters very distinct from each other. The other cast members are perfectly adequate in their roles, but Shorey’s performance as the villain KN Singh is a little too hammy and might annoy some viewers.

“RK/RKAY” is not a perfect movie. One of its biggest flaws is how underdevloped the female characters are There are only two women with significant speaking roles (both supporting roles), and they’re both sidelined as love interests who show only three types of emotions: angry, worried or loving. The aforementioned Sait, who portrays RK’s wife Seema, is one of the supporting female characters.

Mallika Sherawat has two roles: She plays Mahboob’s love interest Gulabo and the temperamental actress Neha, who plays Gulabo in RK’s movie. Gulabo is meek and passive and is mostly seen pining over Mahboob while she’s alone in her bedroom. It’s a very uninteresting, stereotypical role.

Neha has an opposite personality: She’s bossy and ill-tempered, but also presented in a shallow way. When Neha is on the set, and production assistant Namit reads her lines, she yells at him: “What’s wrong with you, asshole? You can’t even read from the script?”

Later, after the film shoot ends for the day, and Neha is ready to leave, she sees Namit and some other film crew members outside and says she’s sorry for the rude way that she talked earlier. Before she gets into her chauffeur-driven car, she tells the crew members that she’ll star their movie if they ever get the chance to make their own film. After Neha leaves, Namit jokes that the movie would be called “Death of a Witch.”

The scene with Neha acting like a diva from hell takes place near the beginning of “RK/RKAY.” But then, the character of Neha is never really given any significant screen time as herself again. (Her screen time playing lovesick Gulabo doesn’t count.) It will just make viewers wonder if other scenes with Neha were cut out of the film, because a character arc seems to have been introduced for Neha, but then is inexplicably left hanging.

“RK/RKAY” is definitely a movie where the men get the best dialogue and the most character development. As a comedy, it’s got some pacing and editing problems, with some parts of the film very manic, while others parts of the film repeating Mahboob’s presence in RK’s home until it becomes a bit monotonous. “RK/RKAY” is very much like being on a merry-go-round of meta filmmaking. Some people will want to get off of the ride, while others will want to stay and get as much enjoyment out of it as possible.

Outsider Pictures released “RK/RKAY” in select U.S. cinemas on May 14, 2021.
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