Film Review: Crime Thriller ‘Andhadhun’ Entertains with Its Gripping Genre-Bending Plot4 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
A series of mysterious events change the life of a blind pianist, who must now report a crime that he should technically know nothing of.
Director: Sriram Raghavan
Cast: Tabu, Ayushmann Khurrana, Radhika Apte, Anil Dhawan, Zakir Hussain, Ashwini Kalsekar, Manav Vij, Chaya Kadam
Runtime: 150 minutes
Written by: Shona Menon
Most crime mysteries come with a basic template of stock villains, climaxes and endings. It’s hard for murder films to shock or surprise viewers especially when we’re anticipating the next twist. This is where Sriram Raghavan’s Andhadhun stands out. The murder mystery dissolves, subverts and turns the entire crime genre on its back to reveal constant surprises and a film of pure pleasure.
Adapted from the French short film The Piano Tuner, Raghavan merges his own spin to neo-noir with just a sprinkle of Bollywood tropes for a familiar touch of musical-esque tunes. Andhadhun is directly translated to ‘blind melody’ and also puns on the Hindi word andhaadhundh, meaning ‘indiscriminate’, which foreshadows the next 150 minutes of dizzying acts and scenes.
Andhadhun, as paradoxical as this may sound, tells the tale of a blind pianist, Akash (Ayushmann Khurrana), as he witnesses a murder and gets entangled in a highly publicised crime investigation. Unlike most crime mysteries, the identity of the killer and their intentions are known from the beginning but this film is not about solving a murder. At the core of it, Raghavan laces in humour, wit and corpse burying to reveal a hard-hitting social commentary that keeps his audience at the edge of their seats.
A lot goes on in the film but they surprisingly link together to form an unpredictable slew of adverse events that can’t help but make you chuckle even when there’s a life at stake — yes, it’s that kind of humour. There is a whole cast of characters in this film but every single one, even a seemingly random rabbit, has a purpose in the plot. Retired movie star, Pramod Sinha (Anil Dhawan) is married to the bewitching and seductive Simi (Tabu), who seems to share nothing in common with him. At the centre of their gruesome wedding anniversary surprise is Akash, who sees everything yet nothing at all. Akash also befriends a young woman, Sophie (Radhika Apte), which turns into a blind love affair, no pun intended.
Ironically, the film opens with the text “What is life? It depends on the liver” but we only understand this in the latter part of the movie. In the second act, the film switches to a bizarre yet comical organ-smuggling subplot that veers off for a minute and gets a little chaotic. However, Raghavan manages to pull the strings to tie it all back to the original murder, finishing it off with a dramatic climax.
The performances and ensemble of the cast definitely make Anadhadhun stand out from your cut-and-paste crime genre characters. Anil Dhawan’s appearance as a yesteryear movie star fits him to a tee with a meta poignance of his glory days. Ayushmann’s lead role as a blind pianist proves his versatility as an actor with his morally ambiguous actions that can both provoke the audience and make them root for him. Taking the cake is Tabu, enacting a gripping and outstanding performance that merges vulnerability and deceit to form a truly complex character that can’t help but make you captivated by her.
While you may be sitting through more than 2 hours of this film, its rhythmic editing keeps the audience on their toes as more wild twists are thrown into the mix, only leaving you to your own thoughts once the screen goes black. Despite its murder plot, there’s no clear distinction between good and evil as every character in the film embodies a flawed and morally questionable portrayal that does not force its audience to pick a side. The uncertain and inexplicit themes of the film continue to the very end as Raghavan wraps up his piece with even more questions.
Andhadhun proves to be a multi-dimensional, genre-bending Hindi film that retains some familiar Bollywood elements while blending a tastefully unpredictable Tarantino style into its plot. With the many layers and themes of social issues and morality mixed in with comedy and dead bodies, Andhadhun is definitely an entertaining watch that keeps your mind running even as the credits start rolling.
The critically-acclaimed box office hit is now streaming on Netflix: