Bollywood today has become a money-making machine, one that relies heavily on grand openings of its big-budget films. When a filmmaker spends 75 odd crores on a film, he is looking at a hefty return. So in the age of 50 crore openings and 100 crore weekend collections, here comes Andhadhun, without too much money spent on promotions. And let me tell you, it kills most of the big-budget blockbusters hands down.
Andhadhun is a thriller directed by Sriram Raghavan, who is clearly the guy you want on 'the chair' if you are looking to make a thriller. However, Andhadhun is not just a thriller. It is so much more than that. It is a hilarious, wacky, and quirky film that paces like a thriller. Basically, it is a fantastic piece of cinema.
The film stars Ayushmann Khurrana, Tabu and Radhika Apte supported by Zakir Hussain, Ashwini Kalsekar and Manav Vij. Ayushmann plays Akash, a blind musician who is looking to create his masterpiece. The trailer showcased the mystery of whether Akash can see or not and that is what I was expecting the film to be. Is he blind or is he not? Well, Andhadhun throws a googly and answers the question in the first ten minutes. That really took me by surprise because I was expecting a big reveal around intermission.
This review will be a short one because almost every scene in the film is meaningful and a memorable one. Also, no matter how much I try, it will be extremely difficult to write much without revealing plot points or giving crucial hints which will spoil the film for you. Let me tell you the most memorable scene for me, - Akash going to Simi's (Tabu) house for the first time. It is spectacular writing and even better direction. The background score is top notch during the scene (and throughout the film as well) which lifts the scene to give it cult status.
There were so many little tributes and inspirations spread throughout the film. This goes really well with the quirkiness of the film and just ads another layer of mystery as well. Sometimes my mind would start pondering over the hidden meanings, thinking about the films Andhadhun was referring to. Films like Maqbool, Singham, Snatch and even La La Land were referred to in subtle and even not so subtle ways. There is also a walking stick with the head cast as a rabbit. Look for it.
There are times when directors/filmmakers/actors take risks which don't come off and they look really silly. I am guessing Thugs of Hindostan will be one of those times and there are several others. No Smoking and Bombay Velvet for Anurag Kashyap, Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola for Vishal Bhardwaj, and many more. Well, Andhadhun is one film where almost every risk, every quirk and every bunt (Baseball) comes off and the result is this brilliant 'comedy of errors'. I also loved all the big music pieces in the film and they help in pacing the film in such a non-discreet and enjoyable way.
Ayushmann Khurrana has made it a habit of choosing films and roles that are out of the box and quirky. Andhadhun fits well into the genre called Ayushman and he breathes life into Akash with his charming portrayal. He digs deep and manages to evoke more powerful responses from the audience. This could be another career-defining role for him as he manages to play a blind character without resorting to the cliches. His emotions range from confused to scared to angry all in one sequence which is a first for him. Tabu is such a fine actress and she rarely goes wrong with her translation of characters. Her portrayal of Simi is a fabulous mix of foxy restrain and sultry ruthlessness. She is a delight on screen and the film would not have been the same without her because I cannot imagine anyone else pulling of Simi the way Tabu did.
The hero of the film is the storytelling and I can't express how badly I have been waiting to say this for a Hindi film. A film like this comes once in a blue moon and Andhadhun is a great example to show the naysayers that this is also Hindi cinema. Sriram Raghavan and his team of writers (Arijit Biswas, Yogesh Chandekar, Pooja Ladha Surti) put down this incredibly addictive joyride, which throws out all your guesses and theories just as soon as they form in your head. Sriram Raghavan's direction is top drawer as he controls the pace and the narrative exceedingly well. The audience will be stunned and gasping for more when this film ends. The theatre full of people clapping is exactly how a film like this should end.
Andhadhun is a must watch for anyone and everyone who enjoys good storytelling. It is a film that will stay with you long after you have come back home. It is also a film that will ignite lengthy discussions on what exactly went down. And according to me, it is a film that should get repeat viewing because there is so much going on and a lot of it is subtle. I have just watched it a few hours back and I am ready to watch it again so that I can absorb everything better. The portrayals, the music, the subtle references. You guys should watch it at least once, don't you think?