Blind man's bluff

Oct 07, 2018, 06:01 IST | Meenakshi Shedde

The thriller-comedy, done with intelligence and tongue-in-cheek, is a tricky combo, but Raghavan pulls it off with panache

Blind man's bluff
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Meenakshi SheddeAndhadhun (Blind Man’s Tune) by Sriram Raghavan is one of the most superb and delightful thrillers produced by mainstream Hindi cinema in a long time. The thriller-comedy, done with intelligence and tongue-in-cheek, is a tricky combo, but Raghavan pulls it off with panache.

It’s a terrific whodunit, Hitchcock-style, in which the audience already knows who the killer is, as well as his motive, but your heart is in your mouth till the end, wondering what will happen next, and if justice will be done. It is racily told, with edge-of-the-seat suspense.

Akash (Ayushmann Khurrana) is a blind pianist. He plays at a restaurant-bar, whose owner’s daughter Sophie (Radhika Apte) falls in love with him. Soon, yesteryear star Pramod Sinha (played by yesteryear star Anil Dhawan, lovely touch) invites Akash home to surprise his wife Simi (Tabu) with a private piano performance on their wedding anniversary. But when Akash arrives, there’s an unexpected person in the apartment, and a murder, and one of the film’s most delicious moments has Akash tinkling away at the ivories, while a body is stuffed into a suitcase in the same room and wheeled out. Thriller-comedy-horror in one scene? Bravo, Raghavan!

Soon the bodies pile up, and the audience is kept guessing what will happen next. There are more twists and turns in the plot than in a plate of Maggi noodles. In the second half, the plot meanders with too many Maggi-like twists, involving a burly cop, a rickshaw-wallah, a lottery-ticketwali, a nasty doctor, and much crookedgiri.

Fortunately, the supense returns, and there is a satisfying climax, involving a car explosion — caused by a rabbit. The film makes you reflect on whether destiny is on the side of the good, and whether the good are really who they seem to be. Nothing is as it seems, and that’s what keeps the film so delectable till the end.

The film borrows its key idea from Olivier Treiner’s officially credited short film, The Piano Tuner (L’accordeur), in which a pianist turned piano-tuner pretends to be blind and promptly doubles his client list — but develops it into a full blown script. Raghavan has a yen for thrillers and ’70s nostalgia, which we also saw in Johnny Gaddaar.

Not only is the screenplay marvellous, but runs fairly smooth despite four credits: Raghavan, Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti and Yogesh Chandekar. The editing, also by Surti, is mostly sharp, and she additionally gets credit as associate director. The acting is uniformly good. Tabu is outstanding,
with a meaty role; we don’t see enough of the actress. Khurrana dives into his role with relish; Apte’s character and the smaller roles by Dhawan, Manav Vij, Zakir Hussain, Ashwini Kalsekar and Chhaya Kadam are also superbly played. KU Mohanan’s cinematography is effective, and Amit Trivedi’s music is a delight, including charming piano riffs of ’70s Bollywood tunes.

Moreover, as I work with blindness and disability issues, I am delighted that Andhadhun passes the blindness test with flying colours: andha people in Indian movies are usually pathetic; bhooke-gareeb in “aulad-walon phulo phalo” mode. Here, the blind/‘blind’ guy is a popular pianist, has a hot sex life, dresses sharply, is resourceful when trapped, and ends up doing concerts with the Aznavour Ensemble in Europe. We like!

Meenakshi Shedde is South Asia Consultant to the Berlin Film Festival, award-winning critic, curator to festivals worldwide and journalist. Reach her at meenakshishedde@gmail.com.

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