Andhadhun Movie Review: You Won’t See A Better Thriller Than This


Starring Tabu, Ayushmann, Khurrana, Radhika Apte, Anil Dhawan

Directed  by Sriram Raghavan

Rating: ****(4 stars)

Take  a deep breath. Now,brace  yourself for an experience that simultaneously  defies  and defines  all the rules  of  the suspense genre.

The last time director Sriram Raghavan took us on similarly clenched  suspenseful rollercoaster ride in Ek Haseena Thi the moral  compass was  far less askew. Here in Andhadhun  every character barring Radhika Apte’s, is  prone  to  bouts  of  shrill moral discrepancy that leaves   us stunned.

Now where did that come from! I found myself  asking this question at least a dozen  times as  I sat frozen  in my seat  resigned  to  the frenzied  flurry of fate and serendipity that  guides this  utterly unpredictable  tale of  unhampered hankerings and  unstoppable calamities.

 But  hang on. How do I review this  film without giving away  the plot? Andhadhun is a spoiler’s paradise. There are so many twists  in the plot that a more apt title according to me, would  be Aao Twist Karen(for the record, the  directors confirms this was  a title seriously considered). And none of these twists and turns in this sharply curved  thriller  is a redherring.

Everything and nothing makes sense in the  morally unhinged world of Sriram Raghavan. People kill maim hoodwink and betray the unususpecting at the drop of a hat. The film’s hero is a blind  pianist ,  played with  eclectic  aplomb by AyushmannKhurrana. We soon get to know the blind pianist  is  not blind after all. Though mercifully he remains  a pianist right until the bitter battered finale when nemesis is no longer willing to stay huddled in a corner.

Raghavan’s talented team  of  co-writers(Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti, Yogesh Chanderkar) take  the   kinetic  plot all over the pace without losing its bearings. Just when we are getting to know the blind pianist , the narrative introduces a smouldering  femme fatale,  played by  the resplendent Tabu, and her aging superstar-husband whom she may not want around for too long .

 You know  how these  femme fatales are?

Before I  move on—as this film constantly forces  you to do—I must take  a break to say that casting the 1970s’ star AnilDhawan as  the fading superstar Pramod  Kumar is a masterstroke. Dhawan has the hits and his character is as emptied of heft as an artiste  as Dhawan was in his heydays.

 Raghava   loves to adorn his thrillers with retro embellishments. In Johnny Gaddar  he some  used the 1970s’ hits with telling impact. This time in Andha Dhun Raghav pulls  out all the stops to envelope  Anil Dhawan’s character  with a swirling retro-heat. Songs,scenes  from Anil Dhawan’s starrers  swish by in  tantalizing glimpses.And to  hear Ayushmann sing  and play Ghuzar jaye din from the Anil Dhawan starrer  Annadata,  is  a joy that the  grey-black characters cannot thwart.

This cannibalization  of  cinema history with  fiction is  in keeping with the narrative’s mood of yoking personal details  from  the characters’ lives with flights  of fictional fantasy.We know  the pianist-hero is not what he seems. But just how far his deception goes comes a  shocker.

 No one except the  surprisingly insipid Ms Apte is to be trusted. There is a game-plan behind the seeming placidity that every character demonstrates.  The remarkable fusion of colours and moods lends a  blended  brilliance  to the  frames. In one sequence the blind pianist  plays  on as a dead body appears in the frame. Red wine and blood mingle on the floor.Elsewhere an  old woman is hurled  to her death  from  a skyscraper .As  investigations go on, an abandoned  schoolbag lies on  the floor. Probably  some kid who was hastily bundled  back home after the crime.

 Death is never far  away from the  characters. They live with the fear of losing their lives. But they do not allow that fear to overrule their avarice and  ambitions.  This feeling of entrapped trepidation runs deep into the  script. Even when the second-half becomes less elegantly chaotic than the first  the narrative never fails to keep us on our toes.

We never  know what may happen next in this saga of  the raga and retribution, told with a verve and velocity that  the suspense genre has never experienced  before in Hindi cinema. So if you’ve been wondering why suspense films in  Indian cinema seem so amateurish  think no more. Andhadhun is  everything that  a murder mystery should be. Filled with morally reprehensible  characters including  an absolutely debauched   cop(Manav Vij, dazzlingly slimy)  it doesn’t try  to  impress us with the right moral values.

God is on leave. And goodness is on a hunger strike in this film about greed passion and nemesis.

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