This year has been kind to very few Hindi films and even fewer remakes, but Abhishek Pathak’s Drishyam 2 – a sequel to 2015’s Drishyam and a remake of Jeethu Joseph’s Malayalam film of the same name – has proved to be one of the game-changers. The film minted an on its first weekend, of Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 (2022) and Gangubai Kathiawadi (2022), and reached Rs. 100 crores within a week of its release. As it holds steady in its second week, the film is expected to sail past the Rs. 200-crore club, which makes Drishyam 2 something of a miracle in 2022. Director Abhishek Pathak credits this success to the cult of Drishyam and the importance he placed on adapting the film to set it in Goa. Read the edited excerpts below:
First of all, a big congratulations. It has been around 10 days and the film seems to be cruising towards Rs. 200 crores. Did you expect it to do so well ?
I am happy with the numbers and I am happy because that means the people have loved it and that they are coming to the theatres to watch it. And that is the biggest achievement for any filmmaker. I expected the film to do at least Rs. 150 crores for sure. Going above that is a dream and a bonus and it is the love that we are getting for the film we made. It is an honest effort that is being recognised and appreciated.
In the current spate of Hindi remakes that don’t seem to be working, what about Drishyam 2 connected with the audience?
While we were making the film, we never thought that this problem would come up where remakes would not work anymore. But this year if you see, nothing is working — no remake is being appreciated or being taken well. I would say that Drishyam is a cult franchise and people have loved the world of Drishyam — the characters and the story. Everything in that world has been alive for the last seven years and I think people were really waiting for the second part. I think these [other] films are not working because somewhere they’re very similar to what the South has done. People want something new, something exciting in the story that would make people want to come to the theatres and watch. Drishyam 2 had that ingredient. People wanted to know what happened next. What happened to the family after seven years? Making the film differently is also something that we should focus on and not just pick up the film and make it the way it was. The same thing might not work for the Hindi audience. The Hindi belt has a very different kind of audience. It is a pan-India audience with different kinds of languages so you have to cater to different kinds of people coming from North, South, West and a variety of people who think differently. To achieve that common ground where all the people will love it is something that we tried to do and I think we did it pretty well.
In Drishyam 2, there is much more swag and it’s more sensational than the original. Do you think that’s something the Hindi audiences like? Tell me your thought process behind the changes you made from the original.
That’s exactly right – there is swag in the film. We were not making a typical big-budget action masala commercial film like a Singham (2011) or [the] KGF [films] because the character or story never had that kind of a world. But we made sure that every shot had an interesting element to it, where it felt like a moment to the audience. A lot of sequences are shot in slow motion to hype the audience and give that little high so that they will want to come to the edge of their seat and want to watch what comes next. So that kind of treatment – the swag of the characters and the way they talk in the film – we tried to amplify it and take it a notch up. We wanted to make a very commercial thriller for the masses. That’s what made the difference in this remake – we got the masala in it without losing the soul of the film.
Do you think Drishyam 2’s theatre run is going to impact the films that come later?
We knew we would have a good run in the theatre, but people choosing our film over others is something that is completely up to the people. They know exactly what they want to see, we cannot really predict or decide. People are very smart. They know whether they want to go to a theatre to watch a film or not. Fortunately, we are doing good numbers and Bhediya (2022) also did . Who is scoring what is secondary but the fact that people are coming to the theatres to watch both films is important. We might have scored more than them but they also scored very well in terms of numbers, considering [the state the industry was in] even two months back. It is a very good time for films. The next big film is Avatar 2 and we should have a good run till then.
Do you think the availability of the original film, especially its Hindi dubbing, makes an impact on how a remake is viewed?
I think there is a little impact for sure. I will not completely ignore it and say that it doesn't matter. Fortunately, when we made Drishyam, people connected to the world of the film and the whole journey of Vijay Salgaonkar. So when the [second part of the] Malayalam film comes out first, people don’t necessarily want to watch it – here, I am talking about the Hindi-speaking audience. They would want to wait for the Hindi version because that is the story they have seen and connected with. That’s what worked in our favour too. So, although the Malayalam version was out on OTT with English subtitles, there were no Hindi subtitles or a Hindi dub at all. People waited for the Hindi version to come out and continue the journey with the same actors. I am glad we were able to deliver something that they loved so much. So, I would say that there was a little impact but it was very minuscule.