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Andhadhun Review

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Director: Sriram Raghvan

Producers: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures , Matchbox Pictures , Zee Studios , Eros International , Paramount Pictures , Panorama Studios

Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Radhika Apte, Tabu


Times of india

Movie Review: Andhadhun

Andhadhun Story: Residing in Pune, Aakash a blind pianist (Aayushmann Khurrana) is privy to an aftermath of a murder. His conscience urges him to report the crime he has technically not ‘witnessed’, but is there more to him than meets the eye?

Andhadhun Review: Sriram Raghavan is known for his knack of dishing out twisty neo-noir, and he lives up to his reputation with AndhaDhun — a dangerously wicked thriller with dollops of dark comedy. Very few filmmakers manage to crack this genre and Sriram is adept at it. His film smartly questions your faith in ‘seeing is believing’.

Honestly, blind protagonists make for scrumptious thrillers and Raghavan ensures he doesn’t miss a beat either. Inspired by a French short film L’Accordeur or The Piano Tuner (2010) by Olivier Treiner, AndhaDhun is a nerve-racking tale of fear, deceit and crime, that keeps you on the edge of your seat as it teases your mind. A ‘Scream’ (Hollywood slasher) scene in particular, acts as a classic jump scare.

Boasting of a brilliant screenplay and masterfully crafted narrative by Raghavan, the story’s audacious characters and constant twists, keep you riveted. Atmospheric and moody, an underlying fear of what lies ahead grips your imagination. While the first half is replete with a blend of palpitating tension, suspense and comedy in classic Raghavan style, the second half slumps a bit. The plot gets a tad chaotic and convoluted as opposed to its terrific build-up. The long-winded conversation between characters slackens the pace and eases out the tension a bit, which you don’t expect at that point. However, a spectacular climax makes up for it.

Ayushmann Khurrana in the lead role is a revelation. While he lends that effortless ease to every role he portrays, AndaDhun is the most definitive role of his career so far, that proves his versatility. Tabu is outstanding as always in a conflicted role that expects her to be erratic, vulnerable and deceitful. Sairat (Marathi blockbuster) actress Chaya Kadam and Ashwini Kalsekar leave an impact. Yesteryear actor Anil Dhawan makes a memorable appearance and Amit Trivedi’s music gives an haunting edge to the film. The interesting background score adds as a perfect layer to the ongoing proceedings.

Open to various interpretations and unpredictable from beginning to end, AndhaDhun is an engaging thriller that keeps you on your toes and leaves you guessing all the way.

In-depth Analysis

Our overall critic’s rating is not an average of the sub scores below.

Critic’s Rating: 4.0/5

Hindustan Times

Movie Review: Andhadhun

Everybody knows how a mystery should work. In Andhadhun, even a sweetly officious old lady prodding a policeman at a funeral, urging him to question the widow about a suspicion, has a clear idea of how he should conduct the enquiry. “Casual, casual,” she entreats with a hissed whisper, as if she has done this before and knows better. Or, at the very least, as if she has watched enough films to warn her against the contrary.

It has become harder to make mystery movies because audiences have watched too many and, like spoilsport children around a birthday party magician, now make a game out of spotting sleight of hand and loudly predicting the next twist. This is why we need directors who refuse to be obvious. This phenomenal new thriller from Sriram Raghavan pulls off its tricks in plain sight. Everybody knows how a mystery should work, but Raghavan knows how all the mysteries work.

The film’s leading man, Akash (Ayushmann Khurrana), wears an old-fashioned watch which allows him to elegantly pop open the glass face — like in a pocket compass — when he needs the time, so he can feel up the hour and minute hands. This is precisely how Sanjeev Kumar told time in the 1986 thriller, Qatl, about a blind man accused of murder. Akash, a piano player, was not born blind but tells us he lost his eyesight when struck by a cricket ball at the age of fourteen, which is, importantly, old enough for him to have been inspired by a rerun.

Whether Akash is genuinely blind is not the question — or, at the very least, not the most important of questions. The film plays with the idea of sight, as some people find themselves blindfolded, while others wear masks to try and emulate the sightless ‘focus’ of which Akash boasts. Who is blinder: the one who can’t see or the one who chooses not to?

And how does one gesticulate in front of a blind pianist? Simi (Tabu), the woman standing in front of Akash, is annoyed. She is irked first at her husband, for trying to surprise her on their anniversary, and then at this young piano player, who is one of her presents, and finally at herself. She moves her hands first too much, as if overcompensating, then self-consciously too little, and sighs with exasperation as she stares hard at him.

All this while, Akash — like Raghavan — plays on. The tinkling of the grand piano frequently washes over the noiseless actions of this film but seems also to dictate its momentum, like in the classic Tom & Jerry cartoons where elaborate farce was set to orchestral music. This is what gives Raghavan’s relentless, absurdly poetic thriller its wings, the fact that we are breathless because of anticipation but also because of having laughed too hard. Andhadhun is a rare treat, a film so compelling that it may universally be considered irresistible. The theatre howled in unison. This is as it should be. We must remember Alfred Hitchcock made funny films.

This is a damnably hard film to write about without giving some games away. I can tell you the characters are phenomenal. A policeman, played by a hilarious Manav Vij, eats sixteen eggs a day “for protein,” fears his wife and, despite his beefy body, fibs about terrorist encounters to appear tough. A young girl (a very natural Radhika Apte) is intrigued by the blind hero but direct enough to shun the “invisible tension” of romantic gamesmanship because it gives her pimples. In a volatile role flashes the wondrous Ashwini Kalsekar, so electric in Raghavan’s Johnny Gaddar, and Zakir Hussain is great as a doctor who has disconnected his cable TV connection before his son’s exams. There is a fictitious actor from the 70s played, in a masterstroke, by 70s actor Anil Dhawan, glimpsed in vintage songs wearing a checkerboard blazer with a florid scarf. Now, he checks YouTube comments and marvels at having admirers as far away as Denmark.

“Denmark? Isn’t that where Hamlet is set?” asks the magnificent Tabu, who plays his wife. This self-aware character takes the black widow motif running through her most acclaimed roles — she is even called ‘Lady Macbeth’ at one point — and allows her to toy with expectations to create a most devastating noir character. She likes to keep her crabs in the freezer, lulling them to icy sleep, before boiling them so as not to shock them. It is an extraordinary character, and Tabu plays her with an air of inevitability, as if perpetually forced to slow down for the benefit of those around her. What a delicious, despicable performance. Has there ever been a femme as fatal as Tabu?

Ayushmann Khurrana is a restrained performer known best for unshowy, relatable roles. Andhadhun makes him break out of his affable routine as he makes his way across Raghavan’s meticulously tangled web. He is a natural at the piano, and his body language in this film is pitch-perfect — especially when it shouldn’t be pitch-perfect. An earnest young man who swears on his piano keys while invoking Goddess Saraswati, Akash is no typically hardboiled noir hero. Khurrana plays him scrambled.

Andhadhun is a raucously good time at the movies — I can’t wait to watch it again tonight — but the highest notes Raghavan hits are the human ones. Cinematographer KU Mohanan’s frames frequently lie by omission, misleading us before showing us the whole picture; we could all do with better peripheral vision. Sometimes the music of Amit Trivedi cuts in, at other times it is Beethoven. Everybody deceives, and the film sets up what-if questions between the wall-to-wall gasps. Pooja Ladha Surti, Raghavan’s editor (and one of his co-writers), keeps the pacing taut enough for the mind to wander only after the end credits. Like the policeman’s diet, this is an all-protein film.

In keeping with so many of his characters, Raghavan learns from the movies. The production title for Andhadhun was Shoot The Piano Player, like Francois Truffaut’s buoyant and impulsive 1960 film, and the film’s inciting incident was officially adapted from a short film, The Piano Tuner. While Raghavan pays tribute to many — the film is dedicated to music shows Chhayageet and Chitrahaar, and salutes sources as varied as Louis Malle and La La Land — he creates something entirely his own. A film that would please both Truffaut and Vijay Anand sounds an impossible ask, but here we have it. You did it, Sriram, like nobody else had. You shot the piano player.

Critic’s Rating: 5.0/5

Indian Express

Movie Review: Andhadhun

Bollywood doesn’t do thrillers well. About the only exception to this rule is one man: Sriram Raghavan. His latest, Andhadhun, based on a French short story, is a glorious keep-‘em-guessing thriller, which never loses sight of that most important question: so what happens next?

Part of the joy of a good thriller is being let loose amongst a bunch of people who say one thing, do another, and mean something else entire. Almost everyone in this enterprise fits this bill perfectly: the blind pianist Aakash (Khurrana) in search of a perfect ‘dhun’, the yesteryear-star Pramod Sinha (Dhawan) married to the foxy, bored Simi (Tabu), a burly cop who specializes in being in the wrong place at the wrong time (Vij), a doctor (Hussain) who promises to do good but has other designs. There’s even a little kid who’s quite a crook. No one is innocent. This is the familiar Raghavan palette: no blacks or whites, only varied shades of grey. About the only what-you-see-is-what-you-get character is the pretty young thing (Apte) who is as intrigued by the vision-less musician as we are, but her straight-laced character to work hard for us to keep paying attention to her.

A murder is committed. Raghavan doesn’t hide the killer from the us; nor the motive. What he does, most ingeniously, is to insert an unexpected character into the situation, and have things unravel from there on. The body count goes up, and the game is on.

The film flags, just for a little while, post interval and things become a tad heavy-handed and dull. When characters start explaining too much, you start losing interest: this is a problem that pops up quite often in Raghavan’s films. But soon enough, I’m happy to report, Andhadhun is zippily back on track. Who is next on the chopping block? Who will survive?

The performances are uniformly solid. Dhawan’s presence lends heft to the proceedings: just the fact of a yesteryear star playing a yesteryear star makes you smile, especially when ‘Yeh Jeevan Hai’, that lovely Kishore ditty from the Jaya Bhaduri-Anil Dhawan starrer Piya Ka Ghar, starts up. Tabu is marvelous, Raghavan finally having created a fitting role for this uber-talented actress, whom we really should be seeing much more of. Khurrana is wonderful, too, sinking into his part. It tells us exactly why Raghavan’s previous outing Badlapur was not quite the movie it was meant to be: what if Khurrana (or another actor able to disappear into the part) had been cast in place of Varun Dhawan?

Raghavan’s love of Hindi movies of the 70s, and of pulp is evident here again, just as it was in Johnny Gaddar. The songs have a reason to be there, as does a protagonist who sings while playing the piano—a scene straight out of scores of films down the decades.

Andhadhun is racy, pacy and appropriately pulpy: alert viewers may twig on to the big reveal, but the thrills and chills are right where they should be in this blind man’s buff. It also dexterously drops some primal issues in our lap: can those without sight, ‘see’? What is right, what, if anything, is wrong? How important is fate? Does everyone deserve a life? Or is it all about just desserts?

It’s been a while since I’ve had so much twisty fun at the movies. Pro-tip: do not step out, do not look away, and stay right till the end.


Movie Review: Andhadhun

Andhadhun is inspired by a French short film called The Piano Tuner. The film followed the adventures of Adrien (Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet), a piano tuner who pretends to be blind in order to get more work. Though his only motive is to make more money, Adrien inadvertently ends up seeing a side of people no one else sees. This, more of less, is the premise of Andhadhun but Sriram Raghavan has turned it around into a delightfully dark comedy which kind of grabs you by the jugular in the first frame itself and refuses to let go. The film also carries echoes of François Truffaut new wave classic Shoot The Piano Player (1960). The French film is peppered with numerous twists and turns which lent it a feverish intensity and such is the case with Andhadhun as well.

Akash (Ayushmann Khurrana) is a talented pianist who pretends to be blind because he feels it’ll help enhance his craft. A faded yesteryears star Pramod Sinha (Anil Dhawan), is enamoured by his talent and invites him over for a private performance on the occasion of his anniversary, meaning it to be as a surprise for his much younger wife, Simi (Tabu). Unfortunately for everyone involved, Pramod has been killed by Simi’s paramour, (played by Manav Vij) and the ‘blind’ piano player witnesses the duo disposing off the body. He soon finds that his handicap isn’t going to help him flee the clutches of the criminals after all…

Andhadhun will remind viewers of American pulp movies, where every character is bent and serves his or her own agendas. The film offers homage to the Hindi film music of the ‘70s as well, what with Ayushmann playing many hit tunes of the era on his piano. Scenes from Anil Dhawan’s films are also shown in snatches, and the fiction of Promod Sinha is ably maintained. The film has been shot mostly in and around Pune and the bylanes of the city become a minor character in it. The production design and cinematography is to be lauded for this feat.

Tabu is the centre point of this meandering drama. She’s been described as Lady Macbeth by a character but that’s just one facet of her role. She plays a woman who isn’t completely all there. She starts off as a bored housewife looking for a bit of fun on the side and ends as an amoral, unhinged being who nevertheless retains our sympathy. We watch her antics with morbid fascination, knowing that we’re going to be surprised at every turn. Her quicksilver expressions and impeccable timing make Tabu a delight to watch. Radhika Apte is a fine actor and one wonders why she said yes to her minor role in the film. She does her bits with finesse but it’s just not her film. After a while, she’s not required in the narrative at all. This easing off is a kind of disservice to an actor of her calibre. Ayushmann Khurrana too is a steal as the piano player with a kink. His switches from being blind to being normal are spot on and later, his helplessness and rage at being subjected to the world’s unfairness is apt too. He took lessons in piano playing for the role and that too looks genuine. He and Tabu share the ease of longtime collaborators in their scenes together and their histrionics is the glue holding up the film’s convoluted plot. Zakir Hussain’s character, that of a corrupt doctor plagued by demands of his family, adds an extra dose of spice to the proceedings.

Watch Andhadhun for it’s zig zag storyline and spot on acting by the entire cast. It’s one of those mysteries which you’ll like to go back to despite knowing the ending…

Critic’s Rating: 3.5/5


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