There are good thrillers that hold your attention while providing some unexpectedly satisfactory twists and turns, even if all of them aren’t believable. There are great thrillers that keep you riveted to your seat while shocking you with their twists and turns, even if a few of them are less than believable. And then there are masterpieces in the thriller genre like AndhaDhun that keep the tension on a knife’s edge while not giving you a moment’s respite with its earth-shattering twists and turns, all of which come across as believable, natural, and immensely rewarding.
We can hardly reveal anything about the plot without spoiling something in the film for you, but we’ll try our best to at least offer a gist of the proceedings. Ayushmann Khurrana plays Aakash, a supposedly blind piano player residing in Pune, who keeps you on tenterhooks about the veracity of his eyesight. Circumstances land him a good job peddling his talent at a restaurant belonging to Sophie (Radhika Apte)’s father, where he gets tangled in the murky world of yesteryears Bollywood star, Pramod Sinha (Anil Dhawan), and his wife, Simi (Tabu), who’s half her husband’s age. Thrown in a dirty cop (Manav Vij), his unsuspecting wife (Ashwini Kalsekar), an unscrupulous doctor (Zakir Hussain), a dubious lottery-ticket vendor, a scoundrel autorickshaw driver, and you have a melting pot of people up to no good and others caught in their web of deceit.
From the onset to the last frame, AndhaDhun stand tall as the perfect marriage between the film-noir classics of Billy Wilder, Stanley Kubric, and Alfred Hitchcock with Hindi cinema’s very own past-masters of the genre like Raj Khosla, Vijay Anand, and Shakti Samanta. A top-notch screenplay (Sriramv Raghavan, Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti, and Yogesh Chandekar) is backed by Raghavan’s meticulous direction that threads the eye of a needle to keep you on the edge-of-the-seat and gasping with shock as one organically executed twist after another blows your mind.
It all culminates in a finale that makes you ponder over dual possible outcomes, with every little plot point having a bearing on the narrative at some time or another, provided you remain focused on what’s going on. (Yes, this is a thriller than makes you think and connect the dots rather than spoon-feed you, and therein lies its beauty.) The icing on the cake is the subtle dark humor that’s efficaciously weaved into the deliciously macabre proceedings.
Coming to the performances, this is Ayushmann’s best work to date, and he’ll keep you guessing about his character’s motivations to the very end. Radhika Apte is easy on the eye as usual, but doesn’t have much to do. Vij and Hussain though, shine in their small parts, while the criminally underrated Kalsekar requires all of one scene to leave a lasting impression in her cameo. It’s also refreshing to see Anil Dhawan back on screen after so long, and his retro act is sure to evoke fond nostalgia for hardcore Hindi film-buffs. And finally, Tabu gets a brilliant role after years, and she chews it down to the bone.
Technically, too, the film is as sound as it gets, with Pooja Ladha Surti’s cuts justifying every second of the 2-hour-and-20-minutes runtime, K.U. Mohanan’s camerawork capturing Pune beautifully, and the BGM almost serving as a character in itself to the film. I guess, if you had to nitpick, then the songs (barring Naina Da Kya Kasoor) are nothing to write home about and the narrative dips negligibly in two or three portions in the second half (it’s still leagues better than that of most films out there).
To put it in a nutshell, AndhaDhun is not only one-of-the-best films of the year – be it Bollywood, Hollywood, regional, or foreign cinema – but also one of the greatest thrillers ever made in the history of cinema.
Movified Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Image Source: Viacom 18