Andhadhun: The melody of a blind tune

andhadhun_2Let me start with a disclaimer- I am a Sriram Raghavan fan so this might be skewed, slightly. From Ek Hasina Thi to Badlapur– the thriller genius has given us many gems to cherish and Andhadhun is another one of them. What a film! This is exactly what we want in Bollywood. A strong script, layered characters, superb acting talent and a director that lives the story through every frame. Inspired by a French short story (and possibly the song sequence Raabta in Agent Vinod), Andhadhun is the quintessential black comedy thriller, which keeps you hooked to your seats through its 2 hours 20 minutes of run time (Add 15 minutes of Manyavar ads if you are watching it at a PVR). You literally do not know what is going to happen in the next shot, leave along next scene or later in the story.

The story has a twist after every 5 minutes and I am not exaggerating. And they are not the twists that you would expect normally out of such a story. Things like whether the blind pianist is actually blind or not, who committed the murder and the kinds are answered right at the beginning. And that does not take away from the absolute thrill of the roller coaster that is Andhadhun. Written by Sriram along with 4 other writers, the story binds all loose ends together eventually if not at an ideal point. From a cat to a loitering kid, everyone has a role to play. Although the movie derails for a bit in the second half, it picks up quick and without much loss.

Let’s talk about the performances. Oh my God, Tabu! She is a delight. An absolute amazeball in the movie. Her character is so organically there in the midst of one situation after another that you are left to wonder if she is an intrinsically bad person or is she a victim too. I think Ayushman Khurrana has given his career best performance in this movie. He is so nuanced and in control of the character that you see his training for the role right through the screen. Commendable. The supporting cast with Manav Vij, Anil Dhawan and Ashwini Kalsekar is as strong as the leads of the story. And there is Radhika Apte too. Why is she there, you ask? Well, some questions even Sriram cannot answer.

The music of the film is not the central attraction but incidentally very intrinsic to the narrative of the film. But why three voices for one actor? Why? Anyway! What holds your attention are the piano pieces for which apparently Ayushman did not use any body (hand) double. Noice. There are pleasant throwbacks to Chaaya Geet and Chitrahaar and plenty of easter eggs to bring a smile to your face if you catch the references.

The screenplay though effective could have been edited slightly better so that the movie was crisper. But the cherry on the cake is the open ended final shot that will leave you with an Inception kind head scratch. It is becoming quite difficult to continue with this piece without giving away any spoilers. So I will wrap this up now.

If you are a thriller fan, go watch. If you are a dark comedy fan, go watch. If you are an Ayushman or a Tabu fan, definitely go watch. And if you a fan of good cinema, go watch. So basically, go watch this one because it is amazing.

P.S. If you were intrigued by the blind rabbit in the trailer, you will be very happy with what happens in the movie.

Hits- Acting, Screenplay, Direction, Story
Misses- Radhika Apte, Length, Editing

 

(Picture Credit- Wikicommons)

 

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‘Apple’ of Bollywood’s eye: Newton!

Newton

Let’s get something out of the way- this is not a film for everyone. But this is definitely a film that everyone should watch. Directed by Amit V Masurkar, whose debut- Sulemani Keeda was widely appreciated, Newton is a story that will make you nod in agreement with what it is trying to say at several occasions. The story of a righteous government clerk sent to a Naxalite conflicted area to monitor voting and facing all odds in the process including the security services (which are ironically stationed there to protect him) will make you think. It is a slow film that takes its own time to grow on you but when it does, it has an impact.

The film raises a lot many issues that are prevalent around us- in our own country. The lack of information/knowledge, the total disregard to areas and most importantly people who do not matter to the larger scheme of things, what is wrong with democracy and its projection in a particular light, bureaucracy and the ease with which everyone- including the government officials and security forces- has accepted the state of affairs. It is normal to call a Naxalite area- Pakistan; it is okay to blatantly lie on air to a ‘foreign’ journalist; it is acceptable for the presiding election commission officer to not even conduct voting in an area because it might be ‘challenging’ and because ‘aisa hi hota hai!’ But the reason why Newton works is because it never becomes preachy. It does not have monologues on how everything is wrong, it does not exaggerate a situation in terms of violence, action or even emotions and maintains a ‘straight face’ while presenting the situation from the main character’s perspective.  And mind you, it is not a dark film at all. It has its moments of humour, wit and intelligence.

Now we come to the star of the film- Rajkumar Rao. Oh my God! That man. He does not miss one note. He gets into the skin of the character and never ‘acts’. He has the pulse of the situation, works on the energy of the co-actors and improvises his reactions to perfection. He is one actor who is slowly establishing himself just through his immense talent- he can deliver a mass entertainer like Bareily ki Barfi and a film like Newton with equal ease. And that is commendable. Talking of his co-actors, we have Pankaj Tripathi as the anti-hero security head who is another gem that Bollywood should leverage more. He has such calm about his performance. We know that he is going to be against our hero- but we don’t dislike him- not even for a second.

The direction is layered. The storytelling is simple. You are thrown into the world of a these characters who have their individual ideologies, perspectives, motivations in some cases and hence tactics to deal with the situation. It is nothing but elating to see such films garnering much attention among all kinds of audiences despite not featuring the Khans or the Kapoors. At least a part of the Indian audiences is maturing. Finally!

Having said all of that, if the film was worthy of being the official entry to Oscars or not remains debatable. Even though being compared to an Iranian film- Secret Ballot for its story and characters- Newton remains a top contender for your watchlist. Do give it a shot!

Hits- Acting, Direction, Runtime
Not so Hit- Pacing (not a miss definitely)

Picture Credits- Wikicommons