Like its predecessor from 2015, Drishyam 2 moves along on the strength of a clever premise, the reunion with familiar characters, and a couple of late-breaking twists. Abhishek Pathak’s remake of Drishyam 2 – Jeethu Joseph’s Malayalam sequel to his 2013 hit – makes a few crucial changes that ensure that the Hindi-language version isn’t a rinse-and-repeat affair.

The first welcome decision is to shave a few minutes from the original runtime. At 142 minutes, which includes the opening credits, Pathak’s Drishyam 2 is a good 13 minutes shorter than its source.

The remake is tighter, focusing entirely on the fallout of that crime that sparked off events in the first movie and continues to roil the lives of Vijay Salgaonkar (Ajay Devgn), his wife Nandini (Shriya Saran) and daughters Anju (Ishita Dutta) and Anu (Mrunal Jadhav). Some of the fleshing-out of characters has been sacrificed, but we’re not complaining.

The second, and even better, decision, is to cast Akshaye Khanna as the new police officer who is threatening Vijay’s peace of mind. An altogether cooler customer than his Malayali cousin, Khanna’s cop spells out the remake’s intent when he declares, I have no time to waste. Described as a maniac who’s also a brainiac, Khanna is as lean and mean as this movie itself.

Seven years after Vijay protected his wife and Anju from a murder they had no intent of committing, the needle of suspicion stills points towards the cable operator who now runs a cinema and wants to produce films. The murder victim’s mother Meera (Tabu) has neither forgotten nor forgiven Vijay, and remains hell-bent on throwing him into the slammer.

Courtesy Panorama Studios/Viacom18 Studios/T-Series.

Although Meera is no longer in the police force, the new Inspector General of Police, Tarun (Khanna) is her batch mate. It appears that the corpse that Vijay had audaciously buried under a police station is going to come dancing out into the open and point a skeletal finger at Vijay.

Some things haven’t changed. If Vijay was previously forced into action by his wife and elder daughter, this time, Nandini’s stupidity forces Vijay into protective mode. Shriya Saran’s snivelling doesn’t exactly endure us to an already shallow character.

Our sympathies are nudged once more away from the police, who use illegal methods in their investigation, and towards Vijay, the perfect family man who wants to protect his brood from harm. The efficiency of the Hindi version cannot overcome the redundancy of the Malayalam sequel, which rendered the first Drishyam meaningless by suggesting that the hero’s alibi wasn’t as watertight as he (and we) had imagined.

Steered by an efficient cast – many of them older versions of their characters from the 2015 remake – and crisp writing by Abhishek Pathak and Aamil Keeyan Khan, Drishyam 2 does what it sets out to do. The biggest surprise isn’t Vijay’s latest feat of prestidigitation but Akshaye Khanna, who has immense fun narrowing his eyes and queueing up to become the latest target of Vijay’s smug scheming.

Drishyam 2 (2022).

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