One of the least touched genres in Indian cinema has been dark comedy. With the evolving tastes of the audience, over the last few years there have been some experiments in this genre, starting with Delhi Belly in 2011. Seven years later, there seems to be a worthy successor in Sriram Raghavan’s dark comedy, Andhadhun.
To sum it up without any spoilers, Andhadhun captures the intertwined lives of a struggling blind pianist, Akash (played by Ayushmann khurrana) and the wife of an aging superstar, Simi Sinha (played by Tabu). A series of unforeseen events unfold, comprising of a couple of murders, deceit and hilarious double-crossing of each other! The narrative is further enhanced by the vibrant supporting cast - highlighted by a super-cop, Inspector Mahendra (played by Manav Vij), investigating the murders with his own ulterior motives. A bright and young restauranteur, Sofie (played by Radhika Apte), who not only hosts Akash’s gigs at her restaurant but also develops a liking for him. Then there are other quirky members of the cast who stand out in their small roles – a self-obsessed aging superstar, Pramod Sinha (played by Anil Dhawan), the super-cop’s wife who takes pride in her husband eating ’16 ande’, an over-smart kid who keeps a suspicious eye on Akash, a lottery-ticket seller Maushi and her auto-rickshaw driver brother, Murali. Giving away any other link would mean – SPOILERS!
Director Sriram Raghavan, along with his bunch of writers, creates a music filled narrative, that is not dark and gloomy – a trope used frequently in stereotypical dark comedies. I was reminded of last month’s Tamil comic thriller, Kolamavu Kokila (KoKo), which had a similar layering of comedy with the right amounts of thrills. Much like Koko, Andhadhun works for its brilliant dialogues by Sriram Raghavan, Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti and Yogesh Chanderkar. The characters get real lines, filled with wry and subtle humor. Unquestionably, Tabu gets some of the best dialogues and scenes, as the multi-layered star-wife Simi, who is trying to find her own way to stardom. In a recent interview, Tabu spoke about her 10 best-performances till date and this one is easily the eleventh one on the list. She gets to display a variety of emotions from a manipulative wife to a heart-broken victim of her circumstances. The writers do not let her layers come off easily, making her the fire-cracking mystery throughout the movie. Every time you think you have figured her out, she does something whacky in the next scene. Oh boy, only an actor of Tabu’s caliber can pull this role off. She is brilliant!
Matching her strong performance is Ayushmann Khurrana, as a blind pianist present at the wrong place at the wrong time. He keeps his ‘blind-act’ understated and displays the vulnerabilities of a visually challenged man with aplomb. His scenes with Simi are pure fun, especially the one where Simi visits him at his home. Also, whether he is blind or not (which is evidently questioned in the trailer as well), is a device the writers cleverly use multiple times to take the story forward and add humor to it. Manav Vij as Inspector Mahendra is funny as the super cop scared of his overbearing wife, played by Ashwini Kalshekar in a small, yet hilarious role. Radhika Apte gets a less meaty role, but thankfully gets rid of her meme-worthy worried and forlorn look. She is chirpy and adds to the chaos. The casting director deserves due credits for picking up the rest of the actors who fit the bill perfectly in their respective characters. Also, Amit Trivedi’s music is praiseworthy for adding to the drama and thrills. He extensively uses chords and piano, sometimes become a bit too long, but delivers musical pieces according to the mood of the scene. After Manmarziyaan, another well composed soundtrack by him.
The movie is not completely without flaws. While it keeps you invested, the pace could have been a bit faster. The choice of using long shots and a few long-drawn sequences could have resulted in the movie seem a little taxing, especially in the first half. Thankfully, the second half sees a much faster and twists-filled narrative, that pulls you back into the game.
Like most movies of its genre, Andhadhun may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But the dry humor, engaging screenplay, superlative performances and a delightful Tabu deserve your two hours this weekend!
My Rating – 3.5/5