Warning: Spoilers ahead
There’s nothing more gratifying than watching an intelligent, emotionally complex thriller filled with deceit, betrayal and remorseless sociopaths. Andhadhun is an unapologetic celebration of vitriol, darkness and mean spiritedness. It has a killer plot and some unsavoury souls thrown in for good measure.
Director Sriram Raghavan takes charge of this intriguing murder mystery led by a supremely talented set of actors including Tabu, Radhika Apte and Ayushmann Khurrana with impressive alacrity. Everyone brings their dysfunctional best into this warped, plausible whodunit that sometimes veers into the bizarre territory.
The murky tale of a blind pianist Akash (Khuranna) who stumbles upon a cold-blooded murder in sinister Simi’s (Tabu) household never dumbs you down as a viewer and keeps you guessing. Nobody can be taken at face-value in this chilling whodunit filled with players with skewed moral compasses.
Set in Pune, the layered thriller opens by transporting us into Akash’s life, a highly functional and non-threatening blind musician whose ambition is to make it big. But his disability is not his defining trait, but strangely his strength as he goes about life with zest. It was such a relief to see a film that normalises the differently-abled instead of dwelling on their disability.
A dapper Akash literally crashes into an amiable and winsome Radhika Apte and sparks fly between the good-looking pair. But their idyllic romance is disrupted rudely when Khurrana gets embroiled in the murder of a fading, ageing Bollywood star Pramod Sinha and his much-younger nubile wife Simi (Tabu).
Tabu, the two-time Indian National Award winner, is a treat to watch. She’s an incorrigible tease who is unthreatening one minute, but unadulterated evil the next. Watching her switch from being the seductress to a widowed, diabolical sociopath is worth your ticket money. Tabu is at her fascinating best in this absorbing murder mystery. Khurrana isn’t far behind in the acting game. He’s splendid as the unassuming-but-sneaky pianist. It’s these two that do the heavy-lifting in this film. But when Tabu is in the frame, it’s difficult to take your eyes off her. Actors including Ashwini Khalsekar and Zakir Hussain, the usual suspects in Raghavan’s catalogue of films, don’t disappoint either.
While the first half moves at a thrillingly rapid pace, the second half has some ludicrous plot twists that make you wonder about who let these mad hatters out? It careens in a different direction shocking the viewers and demanding their attention.
Nothing in this film is white or black. It revels in being in the grey zone where morality and motives are thwarted with abandon. Nobody seems to be sitting judgement in this film and no one is given a back story to validate their sordid actions. And despite the loopholes in the script, you never give up on this twisted, dark bunch as they happily plummet to their dark depths. The nuggets of humour in the first half is also enjoyable.
Plus, you have to hand it to director Raghavan for not giving us perfectly sealed endings. He never wraps things up neatly and allows or expects the viewers to do the crazy math. If you are expecting to be spoon-fed the ending, then you are looking up the wrong film.
But for those who love crime novelists James Hardley Chase or David Fincher’s films, then you are likely to savour Andhadhun, a perfect crime story with a killer plot.
Don’t miss it
Director: Sriram Raghavan
Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Tabu, Radhika Apte, Zakir Hussain and Ashwini Khalsekar
Stars: 3.5 out of 5