Revisiting Sachy’s screenplay for Driving Licence, with Prithviraj and Suraj Venjaramoodu, now on Amazon Prime

Posted on June 22, 2020


Sachy’s special talent shone through his writing in his last two films: they’re a masterclass in how to make the same “story” look and feel different.

Spoilers ahead…

Range is one way to tell how talented a screenwriter is: he can dish out a four-handkerchief melodrama, he can also dish out a serial-killer thriller. The lack of range is another way to discern a writer’s talent. I don’t mean this in the “he does not have range” sense. I’m referring to the two final films we got from Sachy: Driving Licence (2019) and Ayyappanum Koshiyum (2020). 

A bird’s eye view of the “plot” will suggest that these two are essentially the same movie: a privileged brat locks his privileged horns with a paavam government servant, who exists several rungs below in the class ladder. In other words, if Sachy had narrated this “one line” to you (and if you didn’t know his earlier work, like Chocolate or Run Baby Run or Ramaleela), you’d have thought he “lacked range”. 

But this is where a special kind of talent shines through: to make the same “story” seem different. Driving Licence is directed by Lal Jr., but this is not a film you watch for its filmmaking. Like many mainstream Malayalam films from the 1980s, this is a pure “writer’s movie”, in the sense that the screenplay is so rock-solid that you brush aside the lack of cinematic aspects like framing and lighting and camera movement. For a while, I did find the generic staging a bit of a bummer, but once the plot took off, I was riveted, moved, roused, thrilled. I was everything I want to be as a movie is unfolding before me. The actors are fantastic, but Driving Licence is a Sachy show from start to finish.

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