Spoilers before you watch a murder mystery can be frustrating, but do you know what can be more frustrating?
Speaking to those actors in that murder mystery.
The talents are furtively trying to drum up interest in their film before it releases in the cinemas, but are torn between revealing just enough about the plot to pique your interest in their latest thriller, but not give the proverbial farm away by revealing too much of the story. Understandably, the talents and the interviewer are on tenterhooks.
A similar predicament hit us when this journalist spoke to the actors featuring in director Sriram Raghavan’s Andhadhun, a suspense where a blind pianist played by Ayushmann Khurrana becomes a witness to a gruesome murder, out in the UAE on October 4.
National Award-winner Tabu, who was also honoured the prestigious Indian civilian award Padmashri for her body of work, and actress Radhika Apte also play key roles in Raghavan’s urban noir … Here’s what the main players have to say about their murder mystery, directed by Raghavan whose credits include the edgy, dysfunctional thrillers Ek Hasina Thi, Johnny Gaddar and Badlapur. As Radhika Apte, who plays Khurrana’s partner in Andhadhun, says: “All the characters in Sriram’s film are equally strange, but relatable.”
Gulf News tabloid! gleans a few things from the principal players or shall we say suspects in this murder mystery …
Who: Ayushmann Khurrana
You know him from: Vicky Donor, Shubh Mangal Savdhaan and Bareilly Ki Barfi!
His take on ...
Khurrana’s take on …
His role: “I am playing a blind musician who happened to witness a murder in this quirky thriller. It’s such an ironic situation and that is the one line that attracted me to Andhadhun.”
Working with Raghavan: “He’s the master of noir thrillers. I directly approached the director when I heard about his film ... I texted him and said I want to meet you. I expressed my keen interest in working with him and I asked him to audition me … He too was eager to explore this [new] side of me … Sriram is your quintessential rule breaker. He gives you your lines, explains the milieu that he wants to set his film in and you begin as an actor from that point.”
Experimenting with roles: “I wanted a gear shift in my life and career. I wanted to do something completely different as I have done slice of life films already. But Andhadhun is radically different for me.”
His preparation for the blind pianist role: “I am a keen observer of life … I met many blind students in a school in Worli [in Mumbai]. There was a guy called Rahul who was a blind pianist and I keenly observed how he plays, conducts and moves his hands. It was such an enriching experience. When it comes to blind musicians, you realise that music is everything for them. Their sense of hearing is enhanced and it is an active sense. I look at them so differently now … When we met blind students, I realised they have partners who are visually fine and vice versa … They are leading normal lives.”
Whether Andhadhun is similar to Mohanlal’s blockbuster Oppam in which the Southern superstar plays a blind man with a heightened sense of smell and sound who gets embroiled in a murder: “No, it doesn’t touch upon the sense of smell. But sound, yes.”
Seeking work and auditioning for roles, a practice snubbed by Bollywood heavyweights: “There’s no question of egos being at play here. In Hollywood, everybody auditions for a role and gives screen tests. What’s wrong with doing that in Indian cinema too? As an actor, you should thrive on evolution or exploring different sides of you … In my case, Sriram didn’t request for a screen test, I insisted on one.”
His experience of learning from piano teacher Akshay Varma: “He was a fun guy. I took four-hour-long sessions everyday … It was exciting because I got to learn a new instrument as a musician. I have studied guitar in my college days and I was keen to learn piano. We are not using a body double for my fingers.”
You know her from: Golmaal Again, Drishyam and Haidar
Her take on …
Her role: “It’s a plot heavy film, but I don’t want to talk about my role … Sriram gave me no brief, but we just kept developing as it went … The kind of film that Sriram directs, only he can do. That dark spaces comes naturally to him. I have seen his Johnny Gaddar and Badlapur, they were beautifully complex films. He has a unique style of storytelling and cinematic language which’s characteristic to him. You can’t decode it.”
How her experience of working in a noir thriller like Andhadhun was different from a commercial film like Golmaal Again: “I had equal amounts of fun in both films. Working with Golmaal team was like working with family. I have known everyone in that film for so long. You are surrounded by a madcap bunch who don’t take themselves seriously. Golmaal is bigger than any one of us. A scene in Golmaal had at least 21 people on camera, but in Andhadhun it was usually just me and Ayushmann. Each have their own uniqueness.”
Her process of acting and her head space: “When you eat a nice dish, do you really want to know how it’s made? Just enjoy the curry … Why do you want to get into my head space? I don’t get carried away when I hear words like ‘gifted’ or ‘talented’ attached to my name. I don’t dissect it. I am fortunate to hear such lovely thing about myself but I concentrate on putting it to good use and applying those labels into my work.”
Her burgeoning trophy cabinet filled with multiple awards including a Padmashri honour and National Awards: “All these awards are an endorsement to all the work I have not done … Padmashri is not something you receive for a single film. It’s for your body of work and it’s an acknowledgement of a person’s life. Your life isn’t divorced from your work. It’s my journey as a person that they have applauded. It’s very dear to me.”
What she does if not films: “I don’t watch TV for months … But I am in a happy space. I am content.”
Who: Radhika Apte
You know her from: Badlapur and web series Sacred Games
Her take on …
Her role: “I am playing Ayushmann’s love interest. It is a unique relationship because he is a blind pianist. It is interesting how they meet and fall in love. I can’t say more than that because then there is no point in watching the film. All I can say is the plot is complicated and there’s a surprise every five minutes in Andhadhun. You cannot predict what’s going to happen next. The interpersonal relationships in this film are interesting. They are strange but it looks natural.”
On how she got this role:
“Sriram called me and spoke about this role and I told him that I am in. He’s one of the directors where I will do any role in any of their films. He brings so much to every character. It starts with us brainstorming in his office. He respects our contribution and is open to comments. We develop our scenes and we continue to improvise. I love that process of his. He makes smallest scenes feel incredible. I even enjoyed the days on the sets where he was shooting just montages. More than the ending, I love the process of working in Sriram’s films.”
Working with Khurrana and Tabu: “He’s so versatile and he’s taking risks with his roles in an industry which faces this issue of building a certain image for its actors. He is one of those actors who tries different things. With Tabu, I have grown up watching and admiring her films. I had just one scene with her, but I kept coming out of my character. That never happens to me unless I am tired. I couldn’t get through the scene because I kept stopping to admire her play her role. She’s unpredictable as an actor. I was smitten by her personality and her presence.”
On her favourite murder mystery film: “The Shining and Don’t Look Now. I am a complete sucker for thrillers and I keep googling what thrillers to watch. I don’t buy a mystery thriller if it is too convoluted.”
Don’t Miss It!
Andhadhun is out in the UAE this Thursday.