There were two dilemmas while deciding to write about Andhadhun. First, I was very busy travelling when the film released in November. And until it showed up on Netflix I didn’t get a chance to view it. So I dithered whether writing the review a month later made sense. But then, not writing about the best film of 2018 seemed like blasphemy. And there might be many other late-lateefs like me who could catch this film now on Netflix. So one decision was made.
Dilemma number two. How do I write a review of Andhadhun without spoiling the viewing pleasure of people who have not seen the film? Writing about any bit of the script ruins the experience. So I decided to steer clear of writing about the story.
The germ of the story was born out of a French short film called L’Accordeur (The Piano Tuner) which is around 10 minutes long (Please don’t watch this short film until after you have seen Andhadhun). But then Raghavan has made this film completely his own. Suffice to say here that between them, the five script writers — Sriram Raghavan, Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti, Yogesh Chandekar and Hemanth Rao — have created a miracle of a macabre script. This is one scenario where too many cooks did not spoil the broth. The editing by Pooja Ladha Surti does wonders to the pace of the script. There is not a single dull moment.
Since the film released I wondered why the title was wrongly written. The correct word for ‘indiscriminate’ or ‘rash’ in Hindi is andhadhundh. Was the Tamil director responsible for this inadvertent slip up? It turns out that this was supposed to be play of words on andha-dhun or ‘blind tune’. Whatever that was supposed to mean. But I have to say that the musical score by Amit Trivedi is fascinating. It makes you perk up with your hair standing on end at the sheer incongruity of what you are seeing on screen. The piano pieces called Andhadhun themes are out of the world. I never imagined that piano tunes could evoke romance, longing, serenity and even, dread depending on how the rhythm went. I loved Naina da kya kasoor in Amit Trivedi’s voice. Hearing these songs separate from the film might not seem great, but they fit in nicely in the film. Special mention must be made of Jaideep Sahni’s unusual lyrics.
The casting is perfect. How can I not acknowledge the stellar performances by Ayushmann Khurrana, Tabu and Radhika Apte? Ayushmann’s body language as he ‘plays’ blind and his fingers at the piano are effortless. He seems to have worked hard on getting both these nuances right. Tabu is perfect when she is playing a determined whimsical woman. As for Radhika Apte, she makes me swoon with her flair for being normal on screen — even when she complains that stress gives her pimples. She is a gem we have in the Hindi film industry. Anil Dhawan is almost playing himself— a fading yester-year actor. Ashwini Kalsekar, one of Raghavan’s regulars, shines in a small cameo.
Since I watched Johnny Gaddaar, I have been a Sriram Raghavan fan. His scripts take me down the James Hadley Chase route. They are taut thrillers and not one prop is out of place. He loves exploring the dark side of human nature and nobody can be taken at face value. And towards the end everything that made no sense comes full circle. And everything that made sense now seems confusing! And you can’t seem to stop thinking about the quirky little details long after you have finished watching the film. I’m planning to watch it again on New Year’s eve. Such an irresistably addictive dish that Raghavan has served!