Director: Sriram Raghavan
Cast: Tabu, Ayushmann Khurrana, Radhika Apte, Anil Dhawan, Manav Vij, Zakir Hussain, Ashwini Kalsekar, Chaya Kadam
Good thrillers are hard to come by in Bollywood. Shriram Raghavan, who has earlier given us some thrills and chills through films like Ek Haseena Thi, Johnny Gaddar and Badlapur yet again scores with this one. In this thriller, Sriram’s protagonist is a blind musician Akash. (the film is inspired by a French short film, The Piano tuner). Though his handicap evokes immediate sympathy, Akash (played by Ayushmann Khurana)or for that matter any of the characters in the film are not to be taken at face value. While Akash has his own dirty secret, most of the characters in the film are driven by extreme greed and are willing to go to any lengths to covet what doesn’t belong to them. Akash meets a girl of his dreams (Radhika Apte) literally by accident, and looks like his life would get on track before he catches the attention of a 90s star, Pramod Sinha (Anil Dhawan). Sinha invites Akash to his home to play the piano, as a surprise anniversary gift to his second wife, Simi (Tabu). What transpires in the Sinha household ends up being more of a surprise for Sinha and Akash than Simi.
Set in the lazy bylanes of Pune, Andhadhun’s pace is just the opposite of the setting. Fast paced and super smart, the film takes you through quite a few unexpected and hence fascinating twists and turns till it comes to an intriguing climax. While the thriller is supposed to be dark, the treatment is not. Raghavan has infused a lot of fun through the 90s peppy music and irreverent humour (written by Raghavan along with Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti and Yogesh Chandekar). By declaring this as a tribute to Vivid Bharti’s Chhaya Geet and Doordarshan’s Chitrahaar, Raghavan sets the right mood for the thriller right from the beginning.
The story begins at a slow pace, giving you the luxury of time to imagine where it is going to be heading, but soon picks up pace and takes you on a super fast ride leaving you breathless. (Fab editing by Pooja Ladha Surti).
Raghavan does no attempt to oversimplify or overexplain things and leaves a lot to the audience’s imagination, thus making it all the more a thrilling experience. Even though some of the happenings in the film seem a little too contrived, overall it is an edge of the seat experience for sure.
Raghavan’s main character Akash had a lot depending on him to carry this fascinating story forward and Ayushmann Khurrana does a fantastic job. In what could perhaps be his best performance till date, Ayushmann sinks his teeth into the character with such sincerity that it is hard to imagine anyone else in that place. Tabu as a bored wife of an older man whom she barely tolerates is excellent. Tabu plays her complex character with much gusto and as usual, it is a treat to watch this actress on screen. Anil Dhawan being brought back from the cold storage to play an ageing star is a masterstroke. Consistently good performances by actors playing other characters in the film, a cop (Manav Vij), the cop’s nagging wife (Ashwin Kalsekar), a greedy lottery ticket seller (Chaya Kadam) and a shamelessly unscrupulous doctor (Zakir Hussain) add value to the film.
Since the protagonist of the film plays a musician, and one of the characters is a Bollywood veteran, it is no surprise that the film has interesting music. Using some delightful instrumental and vocal interludes from Dhawan’s films from the 70s, music composer Amit Trivedi gives us something to write home about. Watch this film as we don’t know when will Bollywood come up with a good thriller like this one next.