I wrote this review for my application for Young Critics Lab 2019.
Ambiguity is one of Andhadhun’s traits. While the word may sound negative in its generic form, it perfectly suits the film in the subject. Andhadhun is a puzzle, created by Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti, Yogesh Chandekar, Hemanth Rao, and yes, the elephant in the room, Sriram Raghavan. A 138-minute puzzle that asks you to pay attention, figure out things and try to outperform its creator who is facing you, from the behind of the screen that is playing Andhadhun on it. Like puzzles, the film is a fun time.
Special mention to the tone, which is light-hearted no matter how brutal the circumstances are for its leading man, Akash, played effortlessly by Ayushmann Khurana. This tone makes Andhadhun easily watchable, and its the same tone that is the critical aspect for a thriller. Is Andhadhun a thriller? Maybe. Is it a dark comedy? I guess so. But I’m not sure! And this is what sets Andhadhun apart. It is always welcoming when a film doesn’t stick to a particular genre, just like our lives. Are our lives a dramedy? Romance? Action? The genre of our lives keeps changing as our days progress. So is the case for Akash, the film breaks into a beautiful musical as Akash syncs his lips to ‘Naina da kya kasoor’, beautifully composed and sung by the ever-reliable Amit Trivedi. It is a cat and mouse game when Inspector Manohar Jawanda chases poor Akash in the second half of the film. It dwells into some sort of heist in the same half. See, the point I’m trying to prove is, Andhadhun doesn’t confine to a particular genre, and it’s amazing how it shifts from one to another.
The heart of Andhadhun is Simi, played by Tabu. She walks away, not just with the cake, but with every item, the bakery has to offer. Simi is gorgeous, and that’s what makes her even eviler. Evil looking like evil is predictable, don’t you think? And predictability is one thing this film avoids from the word go. The more I write about Simi, the more I’ll have to reveal about the film, which I don’t want to. Speaking of evil, Zakir Hussain plays Dr Swami, a realistic person, who is evil. Hussain is an actor with several negative characters to his credit, Swami is diametrically opposite to the negative character he has played in the past. And that is because of the writing. Swami is written a guy who does evil stuff to make more bucks. He is not inherently evil, like other movies project negative characters to be.
Andhadhun isn’t flawless. While it is a walk in the park for the immensely talented Radhika Apte to play a simple character like Sophie, the character is left midway after half-baked development. This is understandable that the screenplay doesn’t need her, casting a prominent actress like Apte causes this. Ashwini Kalsekar, as Rasika, gives us some of the best moments from the film, despite her limited screen time. Leaving us expecting more of these moments. This is what happens when the writing is on the spot, and it lets every little character shine. When it comes to little characters, there are Kabir Sajid Sheik as Bandu, a annoying little brat who steals the scenes he is in. FYI, he is in a scene with Apte, and guess who steals it? Not a spoiler, but its Bandu. So is Chaya Kadam as Sakhu, and Rudrangshu Chakrabarti as Murli, it is hard to write about them individually, you’ll get it post-viewing. It is the writing that lets these characters break the single dimension. Had it been not for the strong script, these characters would not have been mentioned anywhere.
The first half is a richly satisfying experience, obviously making the latter half look forced. Maybe, it is because the first half alone provides moments and twists more than any other complete well-made thriller Hindi cinema offered in recent times. Perhaps it came under its own weight of the awesomeness the first half offered. That being said, Andhadhun ends on a high, opening countless windows for your own predictions and theories. You walk out chuckling cause you know you have to figure it out! And that is the reward for watching this movie, errr, a puzzle!