Andhadhun movie review: A twisted sight for sore eyes
Ayushmann Khurrana plays Akash, a pianist deeply dedicated to his art. He happens to be visually impaired. Akash finds a muse in Sophie (Radhika Apte), a waif-like girl who offers him an evening job playing piano in her father’s local restaurant.
At the restaurant, Akash has a chance encounter with Pramod, a yesteryear’s movie star who is dining out on faded glory. The meeting bags Akash a private performance at Pramod’s (Anil Dhawan) home – a surprise wedding anniversary present for Pramod’s wife Simi (Tabu).
Simi is mercurial, feisty, and quick-witted. The essence of Tabu’s character is captured in a scene early on when Pramod is shooting a video of his wife cooking a crab. She’s a delectable combination of Nigella Lawson and Lady Macbeth in a way that only Tabu can pull off.
Director Sriram Raghavan blends in his love for old Hindi songs and movies with a French short film ‘L’Accordeur’ (The Piano Tuner). He pays loving tribute to musical TV shows of Chhaya Geet and Chitrahaar and to the much-loved piano as seen in old Hindi movies.
Everything in Raghavan’s story (written with a team of writers) is there for a reason, even the opening scene of a rabbit being chased through cabbage fields by a hunter – crafted like the Coen brothers would.
The thrust of the story, however, is what happens if the only witness to a crime happens to be visually impaired? Through this prism one now views the actions of the perpetrators, the witness, the police, the opportunists. Raghavan crafts a brilliant scene – somewhat reminiscent of 2011 French film The Artist -- using mime and a pounding piano score, to illustrate the artifice.
As crisp, cunning and wicked as the first half is, in the second half, as new characters are introduced, the twists go from clever and unexpected to gratuitous and expendable. Thankfully, it finds its metre again.
The actors do a well-synchronised dance. Some of the scenes are superbly designed and choreographed pieces, underlined by Amit Trivedi’s music and Daniel B George’s background score. Ayushmann Khurrana delivers a taut performance that balances vulnerability with craftiness. Performances by Manav Vij, Ashwini Kalsekar, Apte and Dhawan are neatly in tune. But it’s Tabu who runs away with the show. Raghavan’s greatest misdirection was to make us believe that this film was about anything or anyone else.
The black comedy with a macabre veneer is encapsulated in this line of dialogue (and prologue), which makes sense once you watch Andhadhun: “What is life? It all depends on the liver”. The double meaning is deliberate, like everything else in Raghavan’s unmissable movie.
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