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ANDHADHUN - An insanely delightful first half and an absurdly messy second still results in a thoroughly enjoyable must watch. (Review By Bobby Sing)
06 Oct, 2018 | Movie Reviews / 2018 Releases / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / A / ALL ABOUT INSPIRED MOVIES / Just In

The latest offering from the new-age master of crime-thrillers Sriram Raghavan is an unusually charming, heavy mixed bag of too many astonishing goodies quickly and smartly served in the duration of more than two hours. The unforeseen elements pleasantly surprise as well shock the viewer as & when the director pulls them out like a skilled magician. And the remarkably shot tense sequences never allow you to take your eyes off the screen especially before the intermission.
 
To be fair, the film brilliantly spells the magic through its fascinating, innovative progression after a calm start but then also becomes a clumsy mix of too many unconvincing things happening together, which still successfully manage to keep you engaged and engrossed till the intentional open climax.
 
In short ANDHADHUN has an insanely delightful as well as completely unpredictable first half, which is frankly enough to recommend it, along with the second actually spoiling the game but to bearable limits more or less bringing a thoughtful smile on your face. The film has a class of its own in the first half, but that class somewhere gets lost in the over-stuffed progression post intermission that doesn’t allow me to call it a great new-age classic. 
 
Having said that, the film undoubtedly remains the most inventive, exciting and worth watching movies of the year 2018 with many outstanding performances once again led by the astounding Tabu, who just hits it out of the ground, particularly in her venomous sequences. Ayushmann is better than ever before moving out of his repetitive ‘slice of the life’ films and Radhika Apte is yet again extremely natural and effortless in her portrayal despite her otherwise over exposure in the medium. Anil Dhawan partially plays himself in one of the most adorable cameos of the recent times and both Manav Vij and Zakir Hussain are just terrific (as always) playing their tough roles. Besides, Chhaya Kadam and Sriram's favourite Ashwini Kalsekar and Gopal K. Singh leave their own impact as a part of the fabulous cast ensemble, well chosen by the casting director.
 
Following an uncommon style of narration with an incredible use of songs and background score (Amit Trivedi), ANDHADHUN also gets its enjoyable rhythm through an apt cinematography, production design, sound design and a superfine editing, presenting the theatre of the absurd in a highly entertaining manner. However, following another set pattern of our Hindi cinema, the film as usual falters in its second half, which is smartly handled by the director who never lets you think about his flaws bringing in the timely unexpected shocks at regular intervals.
 
But frankly there is no use praising or writing about the film in a routine manner as you might have already read and seen a lot about the same in various reviews posted all over the web in the last three days. So would like to try giving you some interesting and revealing pointers about the film in four different heads, stating both the positives and negatives that might force you to watch it again, with a different and new perspective catching the hidden things.
 
The key features of the film as a taut crime thriller

1. The witty title itself says a lot about the film and its treatment, devised from the Hindi word “Andhadhund” which means doing something blindly and hurriedly without giving a second thought. Using the word as ANDHADHUN, the director deletes the last D and makes it DHUN referring to the musical notes played by the key actor who is a pianist and also supposed to be a blind becoming Andha and his Dhun - meaning The Blind and His Melody or The Blind Melody.

Though many would say, it rightly should have been ‘AndhiDhun’ as per the language, but then that much change is accepted more suiting the theme of the film.
 
2. The film begins with many important things. One is the rabbit hunt which later becomes a key part of the film (with not so great animation). And second is a clear announcement of what will be coming ahead with the quote, “What is Life? – It all depends on the liver”. So try not to miss the beginning reaching before time in the theaters.
 
3. Every single scene and the supporting characters have a special purpose being there on the screen. So the director doesn’t give you any chance to take a break in between by even closing the eyes for a while or take a look at your phone.
 
4. ANDHADHUN has an intriguing mix of visuals, sounds and dialogues like rarely tried before in a commercial set-up. And that includes one of the finest murder sequences shot by an Indian director without any dialogues, reminding you of the magic of watching silent movies. In fact just this one scene and the buildup around it, gets a clear pardon for the writer-director for his mess created in the second half.
 
5. The excellent silent sequences also involve scenes featuring a small suspicious boy who keeps trying new pranks on the pianist to confirm his doubts building a mysterious kind of environment creating curiosity. So every time the kid is on the screen you at once get excited to see what will happen next.
 
The Worth Noticing Music

Even if any person is not convinced about anything else in the film, still he or she needs to see ANDHADHUN for its music (song/background scroe) and the way director uses it in the various parts of his film that can easily be quoted as text-book material for the young students of filmmaking in India.
 
Why?
Because our movies in particular have an immortal kind of relation with music and lyrics, which actually doesn’t have any parallel in the cinema being made all over the world.
 
Yes, though ANDHADHUN yet again doesn’t come up with any truly melodious composition that will be remembered for a long time (which has sadly become a regular feature of our present Hindi films), but it still has some interesting tracks and lyrics like “Naina Da Kya Kasoor” (talking about a blind man) or "Woh Ladki".
 
Besides, here it’s the background score, the theme music and the use of piano that actually remains one of the key attractions of the film, beautifully amalgamating the present sound of music, the feel of olden times and the hit Hindi films songs of the past adding a lot into his overall magnetic charm reaching viewers of every age group and liking. Watch out how Amit Trivedi and Sriram also incorporate Western symphony music in one of the major sequences and it doesn’t even look anything odd or misplaced.
 
Why the film works? – Its basically because of its comic, entertaining feel having a much wider appeal in comparison to a strictly serious thriller as JOHNNY GADDAAR
 
As I see it ANDHADHUN once again points towards an important and loud conclusion or a disturbing fact, that today the viewers are actually only interested in entertainment for their time and money spent more than anything else.
 
How ANDHADHUN proves that fact?
As per my opinion it works more because of its continuous comic feel entertaining the audience than its thoughtful creation of images and sequences around a blind man and the murders. The film certainly appeals more to a wider section of viewers as they keep watching it with a smile and never feel tensed or disturbed as they tend to do watching a focused serial killer movie or a film around a witness of a brutal murder.
 
As a matter of fact ANDHADHUN is a project more inclined towards the genre of a comedy or a black comedy instead of an intense dark thriller like JOHNNY GADDAAR. And though many might like to differ but I can assure that had this been made with the same kind of narration of a well-made thriller minus the comic feel, it would have only got critical appreciation and not the acceptance of the general audience for sure.
 
That’s exactly how the viewers have proved and responded in the recent past too while appreciating films like THE LUNCHBOX, NEWTON and even STREE more because of its underlying comic tone instead of anything else.
 
Sharing my personal experience, now I clearly understand why most of the producers or production houses keep insisting of keeping the film light in look & feel with an undercurrent of humour to woo a wider set of audience.
 
In other words even in this second decade of the millennium, here an ANDHADHUN can easily become a Hit but a JOHNNY GADDAAR still cannot, as it doesn’t offer a general kind of comic entertainment to the public or the common man.
 
The Film’s Most Interesting And Inviting Element of NOSTALGIA
 
The most striking aspect of ANDHADHUN is its element of NOSTALGIA featuring the past, many can easily relate too, especially the 35-40 plus film-buffs who have witnessed the gone era.
 
1. Dedicated to Vividh Bharti's Chhaya Geet and Doordarshan's Chitrahaar, the caption brings back the golden memories of the era when there used to be one Black & White TV in 10-12 surrounding houses and people used to visit that house to watch Chitrahaar.
 
2. The film gives a beautiful tribute to the Piano songs in Hindi Cinema which have their own history since the early 50s. And this includes hit Hindi film songs played on piano in the film too sounding so soothing and great. 
 
Reportedly they had also added a specially edited two minute clip in the end-credits compiling footage from various Hindi films songs wherein piano is being played by the renowned actors on ANDHADHUN's theme music. But the clip somehow was later deleted due to perhaps copyrights issues.
 
That clip can now be seen online posted at both Twitter and Facebook.
 
3. One of the major masterstrokes of ANDHADHUN is the casting of yesteryears actor Anil Dhawan playing himself with a different name. The display of many film posters in his home and the inclusion of scenes and songs picturized on him is a sheer treat to watch including the instrumental versions of songs from films as ANNADATA, HAWAS, PIYA KA GHAR, HONEYMOON and more.
 
It’s like a homage paid to the Hindi film music from the 70s and I truly loved hearing “Guzar Jayen Din Din Din” after a long time, beautifully composed by Salil Chowdhury with lyrics by Yogesh and sung by Kishore Kumar. Actually wished to watch a lot more of Anil Dhawan, but he only had a short role to play as per the script.
 
4. There is also a photograph placed on the Piano in the film of Kishore Kumar. But nobody questions the presence of photograph in a blind man’s room when he was supposed to be blind since the early childhood.
 
5. A scene in the film also has the classic line from SHOLAY as – "Itna sannata kyun hai bhai".
 
6. Playing a negative character interestingly Tabu is called Lady Macbeth in a scene (pointing towards her MAQBOOL) and her portrayal also strongly reminds you of Simi Grewal in KARZ, performing a similar kind of role as Kamini. May be Sriram had another tribute in his mind giving the name of Simi to Tabu.
 
The Lesser Discussed Inspirational Sources of Sriram And The Criticism. 

Coming to the revealing part of the write-up ANDHADHUN is Sriram Raghavan 5th film in the last 14 years. He made a solid debut with EK HASINA THI in 2004 and then came up with his most famous film JOHNNY GADDAAR in 2007, followed by a forgettable AGENT VINOD in 2012. Making a comeback he delivered his first hit as BADLAPUR in 2015 leading to another probable Hit as the present ANDHADHUN in 2018.
 
Here the most interesting point is that out of his five films mentioned above, the four most appreciated movies were all based on an inspirational source and the one that didn’t work in any way had not got any exact or detailed reference point in particular (apart from having the same title of an old hit Hindi spy thriller)
 
Adding to the fact, where in the first two films the inspirational sources was not officially declared, the director rightly declared his sources in the last two including ANDHADHUN.
 
Giving you the details,

EK HASINA THI
 had many similar elements of Sidney Sheldon’s novel If Tomorrow Comes.

JOHNNY GADDAAR was entirely based on a 1963 Black & White French film titled Symphonie Pour Un Massacre aka The Corrupt directed by Jacques Deray, which was actually adapted from the novel by Alain Reynaud Fourton titled Les Mystifies.
 
(Details about the same can be read in the detailed BTC article HERE)
 
BADLAPUR was officially based upon Italian Noir novel Death's Dark Abyss by Massimi Carlotto.
 
And the present ANDHADHUN has been officially inspired from a French short film, Olivier Treiner's The Piano Tuner (2010) – Also available at Youtube with English Subtitles. Interestingly the French short film also has a reference of Shahjehan, Mumtaz and Taj Mahal in one of its dialogues too. (But dont watch it before watching Sriiam's well-made film.) 
 
As another interesting fact, the film also seems to have taken its references from François Truffaut classic French film Shoot The Piano Player (1960). Plus there was a 'one-shot song sequence' in Sriram’s AGENT VINOD too titled Raabta, which also had a blind pianist continuing playing his music with the shootout going around, in some kind of meditative state. Can’t say if even that song was filmed post watching the two French films or not.
 
Moving on to another common feature in all the four famous films (leaving out AGENT VINOD), Sriram always had an exceptionally shocking as well as outstanding first half but not any equally terrific second repeating the same mistake. So if you go back and read the critical feedback of these four films at the time of their individual releases, then you will find almost everyone complaining about the second half somehow spoiling the excitement including the latest ANDHADHUN, which actually does it in the most brutal way in comparison to the other three.

(*Spoilers Ahead)
 
In clear words, where the first half of ANDHADHUN appears to be simply flawless as a masterpiece taking all the delicious ingredients from the short film, the second half goes on adding absurd sequences one after the other taking huge cinematic liberties in terms of logic in a crime thriller. For instance turning the other person blind without even confirming the bluff, the organ transplantation procedure in a filthy clinic, making an organ booking with a Sheikh abroad and more twists and turns just brought in to bring in the shock actually hamper the impact of a class act witnessed in its first half.
 
Having said that, no doubt Sriram does that in an extremely intelligent way giving you no time to think about the logic, keeping the viewers thoroughly engaged and entertained in the constant shocks.
 
However the truth seems to be that when the reference material was there it all turned out to be simply great (in the first half). But when there was no reference material to take inspiration from, the writing went haywire adding some random stuff just to keep you involved forgetting about the reason or logic. 
 
As a result ANDHDHUN unarguably remains an innovative, thrilling, must watch, far ahead of the usual Bollywood stuff, but still cannot be called a Classic due to its faulty, over-stuffed and seriously clumsy second half.
 
The Change Made In ANDHADHUN As Per The Indian Viewership
 
This should ideally be the most intriguing part of the write-up you might not have read or heard about it anywhere else on the net or the social networks. But before moving further, I need to ask a blunt question to the readers that,

“Watching ANDHADHUN, were you really convinced knowing the reason behind Ayushmann faking his blindness – or you just assumed to be convinced due to the director’s strong projection of the same along with the other twists and turns?”
 
The answer or purpose of putting up this question is that in reality there was no solid reasoning of the fake-blindness given in the film and the point that he was faking it just to get more musical ideas and be more creative was completely flawed.
 
Logically, it was unconvincing because the moment he always entered his home, he used to stop faking at all and then again assumed to be blind without even wearing any blinders while playing the piano (as seen in the beginning). 
 
So practicing partial blindness as per the convenience was never beleivable in the film, but Sriram had to do it because Indian audience would not have got the real logical reason behind the fake-blindness as it was in the original short film.
 
Now consider this!
In the French short film “The Piano Tuner” the given reason is so logical and perfect that you can never question it at all by any means.
 
Stating the basic difference - There the lead character is not 'a piano player' but 'a piano tuner'. 
 
And if you are familiar with any kind of musical instruments that need to be professionally tuned like harmonium, piano and more, then you would also be knowing that tuning a musical instrument is a specialized skill or art in itself and its quite difficult to find a near perfect tuner in the market. As a matter of fact, even the owners of shops selling the instruments mostly call professionals to do the same for their equipment, as they cannot do it on their own in the desired manner.
 
So the protagonist faking blindness in the original short film does that as he is bound to get more work as a Blind Piano Tuner in comparison to a normal person.
 
Why?
Because its a psychological belief that the people who are deprived of one ability to feel or sense are naturally gifted to be better in their other sensing powers as a balancing act of nature. So a person who cannot see or has lost his vision, is believed to hear the sounds much clear than a normal person and hence would be a far better Piano Tuner since the tuning is all about sound and not eyesight to be specific.
 
Hence in the original the reason is just perfect for the fake blindness as the lead character very well knows that he is bound to get more work as a blind piano tuner gaining both sympathy as well a professional edge over the competitive piano tuners with a normal eyesight.
 
But since Sriram very well knew that this ‘Piano Tuner’ concept will not reach or be accepted by the general public here, so he made his hero just a simple piano player instead of a professional tuner.
 
Summing up, ANDHADHUN is certainly a novel, path-breaking masterpiece as far as its first half is concerned. But the continuous absurdities and too many cinematic liberties later, does limit its excellence, resulting in a great entertaining attempt for sure but not a classic one. To be honest, this is a Sriram Raghwan film that has been deliberately given a humorous tone to find a commercial acceptance making a compromise and thus remains a lesser cinematic gem in comparison with his own Hasina, Johnny or Badlapur.
 
Rating : 3.5 + 0.5 / 5 (with the additional 0.5 for Tabu in particular and Sriram for making such a daring, out of the box attempt convincing the producers.) 

(Note : Regarding the open ending, would like to give you a hint about my interpretation, mentioning one of the dialogues in the film wherein Ayushmann says, "Andhey Honey Ke Bhi Apne Faaydey Hain'. And when one gets habitual of the advantages of such convenient faking, then he continues doing so as an addiction" :) )

Tags : ANDHADHUN Review By Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, New Hindi Films Reviews by Bobby Sing, New Bollywood Movies Reviews by Bobby Sing, New Thriller of Sriram Raghavan
06 Oct 2018 / Comments ( 3 )
Kumar

I watched the film yesterday.
I would rate the film as 9/10 for the first half and a sad 3/10 for the second half.

The first half was completely roller coaster and unpredictable. I am a big fan of crime / mystery movies and am of the view that such movies should not have an open ending leaving it to the audience to figure out. This is fine for an Art movie wherein a suggestive end is the norm.

From the cast, Tabu is chilling. I especially liked the scene where they are tied up and she says ‘Bandar madari ko bandh kar bhaag gaya’.

Loose ends ae as follows  (Too many to leave it to the sudience):

1. Who gives Ayushman his eyes? Auto driver or someone else?
2. Who gave him money to go to Europe?
3. And how does he travel all the way to “Somewhere in Europe”?
4. How does Radhika Apte land there?
5. The police department is shown in poor light that no proper investigation is made Anil Dhawans murder (Supposed to a celebrity murder). No forensic team to check finger prints, no immediate checking with the neighbours, etc.
6. In Tabu’s apparent suicide without her body being found – again no investigation.
7. The other police officer just keeps nodding his head and does not do any enquiry.
8. What happens to the Inspector? Is he still stuck inside the lift?
9. What does the lottery lady do after her auto driver friend dies?
10. Does she not complain against the police inspector?
11. The small boy does not talk about his video to anyone in his house.
 

Bobby Sing

Hi Kumar,
Thanks for your detailed comment and let me tell you that such murder mysteries or thrillers actually succeed when the viewers start thinking about them in details (even for finding faults) drawing their own conclusions.
That itself is a big victor of every detective novel or film as you dont choose to just throw it away and ignore. But you choose to keep thinking about in details and point them out individually.

Regarding the answers, yes the film has many flaws and thats the reason it is not any masterpiece.
There are many videos posted by youngsters interpreting its conclusion in more than 3-4 views at youtube. Do watch them and see if you get your answers from there or may be get many more ideas about the same drawing new interpretations.
Cheers!

Purnima Shah

Loved your detailed review bobbyji.. saw the movie yesterday.... yes the track of organ trasnplant was wierd and there were many unsolved mystries.

Whats ur answer to those questions asked in the above comment... also pls share the link of the answers in youtube or something..

Thank you.

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