Say what you want about Bollywood films but you can’t deny that they’re mostly not very smart. In these days of larger than life and hammy blockbusters, well written Bollywood films are a dying form.
Luckily, from time to time, we do manage to get twisty gems like Andhadhun from director Sriram Raghavan. Raghavan has established himself as a master of thrillers from ‘Ek Hasina Thi’ and ‘Johnny Gaddar’ but in Andhadhun he impeccably crafts a world that is full of deceit and where nothing is as it seems.
Starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Tabu in their best roles in some time, Andhadhun (out now on Netflix) is a movie that is simply too good to be missed. Filled with jaw-dropping turns, this darkly comedic movie really underlines just how good a setting India is for taut thrillers such as this one.
The casting of Anil Dhawan as a yesteryear star and showing clips from his films is just one of the meta moments that establishes the tongue-in-cheek humor of the movie, but beyond that, the film is wickedly charming from start to end. The film focuses on a blind Pianist Aakash, who witnesses a murder and struggles to apprehend the murders.
To tell you any more would be sacrilege, but rest assured the film makes quick work of laying out its plot and masterfully subverts our expectations at every turn. Khurrana’s portrayal of a blind man is on point and he’s a terrific lead in a film that’s gonzo and demands the most from its actors.
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Tabu is also phenomenally well cast, her take on Simi is so wonderful and let’s just say that she simply made her unhinged character her own. Quick-witted, calculating and brazen Tabu’s Simi is arguably the best thing about Andhadhun. Andhadhun is a world full of cold and dubious fellows and Tabu’s Simi is quite possibly the cold black heart of the movie.
The best thing about Andhadhun is that it understands that it is a dark comedy, and so aside from heaps of suspense and thrills, the movie carries its comedic undertone till the last frame. The movie is smart enough to not allocate time to a lot of songs and aside from one piano ballad, the movie is very prudent about prioritizing plot over romances and item songs.
What music there is comes from Aakash playing piano music and that works brilliantly in setting up the mood of the film. The one romantic storyline in the film between Aakash and Sophie (Radhika Apte) doesn’t quite work as much as other areas of the film but it is a necessary component of the film and doesn’t feel out of place with the larger narrative of the movie.
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Andhadhun’s script is whip-sharp and delightfully bizarre and it’s a credit to its five writers that every character in the movie is fully realized. The movie also benefits from it utilizing the city of Pune, as it shows us high-rises, small apartments, and the seedy underbelly of the city.
While several new characters introduced in the second half aren’t quite as interesting as the ones at the beginning but they also fit in with the messed-up world Sriram Raghavan has built. There is a slight Hitchcockian feel to the entire movie, made very apparent in Simi and Pramod’s apartment with its blue wallpaper and the signature blend of tension with a smart and comedic script certainly brings to mind some of the director’s finest works.
All in all, Andhadhun is a master class in making one hell of a crime comedy. Carefully plotted and skillfully directed Andhadhun makes a case for why Indian cinema needs to be more than your average Salman Khan action movie.
Andhadhun’s charming mix of thrills and laughs not only make it the best Hindi movie of the year but also one of the best Bollywood films to grace our screens in some time. The film isn’t without its flaws; the second act slows down the pace of the movie quite a bit. Not to mention, it wastes time by devoting it to characters we don’t really care about but the film still starts and ends very strongly.
Usama Masood Ahmad is an entertainment writer and research analyst at Global Village Space. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.