As he did with his earlier earlier films, Ek Hasina Thi, Johnny Gaddaar, Sriram Raghavan starts “Andhadhun” with a legend: What is life? It depends on liver. Raghavan is the David Fincher of Bollywood, a performer who doesn’t care if he rips apart the piano as long as everyone is rocking. With “Andhadhun”, he takes the leap beyond the Bollywood contours and sets a peripheral benchmark: crossing which will be a cinematic nirvana!
Set in Pune, Andhadhun stars Ayushman Khurrana (Aakash) as a blind pianist who plays at Franco’s. We are set in motion with his sets: Naino Da Kya Kasoor, Mere Dil ke Dil Mein Hain tu, Gujar Jaye Di, all reflecting musical brilliance of the 70s. The man at the bar embracing them with Tabu (Simi) is Anil Dhawan (Pramod), yesteryear star of classics: Chetna, Darwaza. With the musical backdrop as a constant reminiscence of the era gone, there is a murder and the pianist takes the accidental central stage here, playing symphonies to come out alive! What starts is a gripping thriller about blood, betrayal, organ transplants, violence, money and a rabbit hopping through all this drama.
I wouldn’t think of giving away the game. The masterful writing and editing seamlessly engulfs humor into this taut narrative and challenges us to decide: what course will this take from here? I am reminded of Tarantino’s quote here, “I am a symphony conductor and audience my orchestra. I want them to ooh, aah, laugh, cry, clap, scream when I say so.” Raghavan here makes this the Andhadhun anthem. The film may be in color but the world of characters is black and white. Ayushmann Khurrana gives his most solid performance yet, well crafting the intensity which complexes as the script evolves. The woman who will change his life forever, Tabu, takes this a notch ahead of Maqbool and Haider, playing the femme fatale with perfect wickedness. Radhika Apte is lovely as Sophie and the supporting cast too lives up to the script demands.
Given a bandwagon of five writers: Sriram Raghavan, Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti, Yogesh Chandekar and Hemant Rao drafting the screenplay, the movie does diverge from the gripping carriageway in the second half but is well bought back to its twisting junctures with editor Pooja Surti giving the perfect break point. The German composer and pianist Ludwig Van Beethoven was deaf by the time he composed his most accomplished work: the fifth symphony perhaps it is only fitting then that with his fifth film about a blind piano player orchestrates his finest symphony yet!
P.S. Don’t miss the beginning!