Ayushmann’s ‘Andhadhun’ Is a Gripping Tale of Twists and Turns
Sriram Raghavan cooks up a delicious thriller along with Ayushmann Khurrana, Tabu and Radhika Apte.
‘Andhadhun’ Film Review: Don’t Miss This Gripping Thriller
“Andha hone ke problems toh sabko pata hain, faayede main batata hoon”. Akash, a blind pianist confides in us slowly. We almost seem quite taken in by the trust the character puts on us and just when we begin to settle in, we realise that all isn’t what it seems. Sometimes both us - the viewer and the character on screen gasp together and at other times we already know things that the character on screen doesn’t. That’s when the delirious fun starts. In this Sriram Raghavan universe, we can’t be too sure about anything. People and their motivations change, even our loyalties flip. It a nifty thriller where pretence and make belief get so dextrously intertwined that you are forced to keep second guessing yourself and the on screen proceedings.
Andhadhun builds anticipation and tension without relying on clichéd tropes like a loud background score or frenzied camerawork. Inspired by the French short film,The Piano Tuner, Andhadhun takes only the kernel of the idea and it vibrates instead with ingenuity and a twist ricocheting off every few minutes. Take for instance this particular scene where a blind man plays the piano. The lilting tune hangs heavy in an air of disquiet. The camera pans just enough to nudge us into immediate attentiveness. We wake up to an unnerving sight and plenty of possibilities. Someone has died? How? When? Why? And even before we begin to process these questions we are taken in by the absurdity of the situation. The music never stops and the entire scene is mimed, no words used. The actions reveal the sinister motives and we give out a long sigh only to realise we had been holding on to our breath for that long. It’s a brilliant scene and the best part is that this isn’t the only one.
Andhadhun also gives us memorable characters who dunk themselves in this crazy Sriram Raghavan universe with relish. Ayushmann Khurrana takes centre-stage effortlessly melting into his role. Akash is well-meaning but has some inexplicable quirks.
He mostly seems in control till the proceedings totally overwhelm him and through all the crests and troughs, his hold on his character never slips. Much of the mood and tonality of the film owes itself to Sriram Raghavan’s love for the 70s . The physical embodiment of it is Anil Dhawan, who in a twisted way plays himself. He is a yesteryear superstar Pramod Sinha, who essentially relives the golden years of his life seeing scenes from his actual films, in a room with walls lined with his film posters. The accompanying piano riffs imbue the goings on with an enthralling mystifying quality.
Sinha’s wife is the sultry Simmi who says “crab meat is an aphrodisiac” in a way only Tabu can. There is such a cold and chilling efficiency about her that one is more or less breathless around Tabu. She displays an impressive understanding of her character’s exacerbated emotional state.
Radhika Apte in a small role is again supremely effective mirroring at times our own bewilderment at what is happening. Then there is Manav Vij, this tough cop with a piercing gaze who fumbles around his overbearing wife played by Ashwini Kalsekar, who is equally delightful to watch. Zakir Hussain as the doctor with unhinged moral moorings and Chhaya Kadam as the woman trying to make a quick buck selling lottery tickets put up a solid act.
For a brief time in the second half the plot machinations seem a little contrived but Pooja Ladha Surti’s masterful pacing of the film along with KU Mohanan’s camera play a mystifying symphony of their own, cleverly de-focussing and zooming to have us hooked to the narrative from scene one. Andhadhun deserves praise and full attention. Make sure to not miss anything, not the opening scene nor the end credits. Every scene, every character, every line has a purpose, a special place in this grand design .
Rating: 4.5 Quints out of 5
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