Can you get away with murder? That is the question Drishyam 2: The Resumption asks. In 2013, at the end of Drishyam, when Georgekutty walked out from the police station, in slow motion, having buried a body beneath the cops' noses, we applauded. Because we desperately wanted him to win. Georgekutty was all of us – an ordinary man thrown into extraordinary circumstances and doing whatever it takes to save his family. That hasn't changed. We still want to see Georgekutty win. But the sequel, perhaps taking a cue from Dostoevsky, suggests that where this is crime, there will be punishment. Blood on your hands will scar your soul – even if you never do jail time.
This film is a genuine sequel as opposed to the ones in which characters or worlds continue with minimal connection to the earlier work. Drishyam 2: The Resumption is set six years after Drishyam. Georgekutty's grand passion for cinema hasn't ebbed. He is now a theatre owner and an aspiring film producer. We are repeatedly told that he is in debt but his ascent from a cable TV operator irks folks in this small town in Kerala. There is incessant gossip about the family and what may or may not have transpired that night when Varun, the IG's son, was killed.
Georgekutty's success doesn't seem to have brought happiness – his family is still tightly knit but there is a sense of alienation and loneliness. Georgekutty has started drinking more often. Anju, the elder daughter, is still petrified of police sirens and suffers seizures. Anu, the younger daughter, seems the best adjusted but she's grown up now and bristling against the shackles put on her by her mother. And poor Rani – Georgekutty has named his theatre after his wife but he no longer seems to have the time or boundless affection. She's so jittery that when he travels for work, she has the neighbour's wife sleep over.
Director Jeetu Joseph, who has also written the film, spends much of the first hour establishing these family dynamics and frankly, it's a bit of a slog. Several new characters are introduced but none seem particularly significant. The plot makes ostensibly aimless diversions moving from a sleepover that Anu hosts for her friends to Rani's mother traveling to Qatar. What, you wonder, is going on? But have patience. This is simply the build-up, comparable to a tame ascent on a steep roller coaster. Once the plot kicks in – at around interval point – the twists and turns are so fast and furious, that you might not even stop to question the plausibility of the narrative.
Might is the operative word here. Drishyam 2:The Resumption doesn't have the organic seamlessness of the first film. The construction is more convoluted – you can almost see Joseph straining to put the pieces of the puzzle together. But it's equally gripping. Joseph makes sure to explain every move so you understand how characters and scenes in the first half fit into the larger story. And once again, we marvel at the mind of Georgekutty. With a little more education, he could have run the world.
But Joseph isn't interested in merely creating a satisfying cat and mouse game. Drishyam 2: The Resumption alludes to a larger moral design and how each one of us has to face the consequences of our actions. Once again, Georgekutty and his family are pitted against the rage of the now retired IG Geetha Prabhakar. She might be a mother mourning the death of her only child but she's also determined to find retribution. It is her husband Prabhakar who suggests that they show mercy. And Joseph makes sure to have a character tell Prabhakar that if more people were like him, the world would be a better place.
As with the first film, Joseph keeps directorial flourishes to a minimum and allows his plot to take centerstage. In several scenes, he frames Georgekutty against grilled windows, hinting that even as a free man, he is a prisoner.
The second hour is cleverly plotted with the screenplay echoing beats from the first film – including an interrogation sequence that crosses into brutality like the interrogation scene in Drishyam and an end sequence, similar to the one in the first film, set against fields of verdant green – almost as if after the emotional turmoil of the preceding events, we need to take a breather with nature. Joseph also pre-empts questions you might have about how Georgekutty pulls off what he does – in one scene, Georgekutty is working with a writer on the film he wants to produce. When the writer points out that the climax that Georgekutty is suggesting seems risky, the hero would need to be very lucky, Georgekutty replies: It's a movie sir. What's wrong if the hero turned out to be lucky or had blessings from God?
We take this leap of faith with Georgekutty because Mohanlal imbues him with grace and gravitas. The character has little of the swag he had in the first film. He's as determined but more weighed down by the elaborate deceptions he must create to stay one step ahead of the law. Though Joseph can't resist doffing his hat to his superstar – so in one scene, characters talk about how they are all Georgekutty fans. He's our star, someone says. And in another, Georgekutty says, I'm going to rule Malayalam cinema. He already does.
It's also nice to see so many of the actors from the first film – of course Meena as Rani, Esther Anil as Anu, Ansiba Hassan as Anju and Asha Sarath as Geetha Prabhakar but also smaller characters like Sulaiman, the cheerful tea shop owner played by Narayanan Nair, who remains a Georgekutty loyalist. As with the first film, Joseph keeps directorial flourishes to a minimum and allows his plot to take centerstage. In several scenes, he frames Georgekutty against grilled windows, hinting that even as a free man, he is a prisoner.
The film underlines this too often, through imagery and dialogue. But perhaps Joseph wanted to make sure that this time around, there is no ambiguity, that viewers understand that Georgekutty is a tainted hero who will never find peace. It's still a hell of a ride to witness his Machiavellian manoeuvres.
You can watch Drishyam 2: The Resumption on Amazon Prime Video.