This delicious murder-mystery will not let you blink for a second
Disclaimer: This intended review might be a love note from an ardent Sriram Raghavan admirer
Director Sriram Raghavan, alike his Film and Television Institute of India batchmate Rajkumar Hirani, chooses to invest time and grey cells to give us cinema, that you cannot stop rooting for. This easily explains why both directors have each delivered only five films in their fifteen year- long careers, respectively.
Inspired cleverly by Oliver Treinner’s 2010 French film L’Accordeur (The Piano Tuner), ‘Andha Dhun’ is a gentle reminder of the harsh truth that there is no black or white. A reminder served routinely with the use of a piano, an effective motif that serves as a moral compass between a blind pianist, an aging superstar and his much younger wife, and the lives that revolve around them. The blind pianist becomes a sole witness to a murky murder and as much as he tries to be evasive, he somehow gets caught in the middle to a point where there is no return. The brewing question is, is the protagonist innocent or does he/she have his own vices, and is the villain in question, a victim of circumstances?
Without giving away much of the film, let’s delve straight into the technicalities. Director Raghavan exploits his penchant for coupling grit and gore with wry humour, a skill set he has mastered effectively in most of his films, particularly ‘Badlapur’ (2015). Ably assisted by Pooja Ladha Surti, Arijit Biswas and Yogesh Chandekar, Raghavan’s story is set in motion with a screenplay that keeps you glued to the edge-of-your-seat without letting you blink for a second. Surti’s editing is razor-sharp that there are so many scenes that take you by surprise and leave you in awe. K U Mohanan’s cinematography gives us picturesque views of Pune, a supposedly virginal city waiting to let loose. Infact, the city has always been a muse in Raghavan’s films. Snigdha Pankaj and Anita Donald’s rich production design is applause-worthy, particularly with the Prabhat Road residence, an upscale Magarpatta high-rise and a frequently visited watering hole in the city. Amit Trivedi’s music and background score isn’t as impressive as his work in ‘Manmarziyaan’, but it isn’t entirely disappointing either.
Raghavan’s films always spring up electrifying performances and ‘Andha Dhun’ is nothing less. Taking centrestage in this thriller is Tabu, whose magical act cannot be described in words. She is brilliantly backed by Ayushmann Khurrana, who seems to be at the top of his game. Known to play unconventional characters in light-hearted films, Ayushmann goes for the kill, giving us a character you aren’t really sure you can empathise with. Together these two paint a symphony that you can’t resist. Radhika Apte impresses in the first half but is pretty much sidelined in the second. It’s such a delight to see yesteryear actor Anil Dhawan make a return to the big-screen. Infact, ‘Andha Dhun’ is a remarkable tribute to the actor’s filmography from the 70s. Don’t ask me how. Please figure out yourself. The rest of the cast including Manav Vij, Ashwini Kalsekar, Zakir Hussain (a must-have in every Sriram Raghavan film), Chhaya Kadam and child artiste Kabir Sajid are A-rate too.
A line from the film suggests, ‘Crab meat is an aphrodisiac’. Sriram Raghavan’s ‘Andha Dhun’ is crab meat for cinephiles, high on thriller and humour.