Movie Review: Andhadhun (2018)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

Neo-noir filmmaker Sriram Raghavan made his best movie yet: the black comedy Andhadhun (“Blindly“).

Ayushmann Khurrana stars as Akash, a talented blind musician living in Pune. He gets a gig as the piano player at trendy restaurant after the owner’s beautiful daughter, Sophie (Radhika Apte), runs into him with her scooter. The job puts Akash in touch with some high rollers, including former film star Pramod Sinha (Anil Dhawan). Pramod hires Akash to serenade him and his young wife Simi (Tabu) on their anniversary, and things don’t go as planned.

Raghavan’s script — co-written with Yogesh Chandekar, Hemanth Rao, and frequent collaborators Arijit Biswas and Pooja Ladha Surti (who also edited Andhadhun) — rewards fans of crime thrillers with familiar genre nods like femmes fatales and characters who aren’t what they seem. Yet the story veers in unexpected ways, forcing the audience into a giddy series of emotional pivots, from shock to uneasy chuckles to horror to hysterical laughter, all in a matter of seconds. It’s astonishing how well Andhadhun pulls this off.

Khurrana’s filmography is full of nice-guy roles, and the sympathy he inspires serves Akash well early on, before we discover that the pianist has his own secrets. His more complicated character contrasts with that of Sophie, who has the movie’s “sunshine role”, according to Ladha Sutri. A love scene between Akash and Sophie is wonderfully steamy despite its brevity.

Then there’s Tabu. She’s glorious in this, so much fun to watch as the ambitious trophy wife (who is shown at one point reading a book titled Anita: A Trophy Wife). She’s charming and chilling, and also hilarious as the movie’s main source of dark humor.

Raghavan and his co-writers ensure that every supporting character has their own clear motivations, which not only elevates the overall quality of the story, but makes it that much easier to get great performances from the whole cast. Ashwini Kalsekar is a laugh riot as the enthusiastic-but-out-of-the-loop wife of a police officer, played by Manav Vij.

Sound design plays a huge role in Andhadhun, as it has in Raghavan’s previous movies. Here, Raghavan expertly deploys tunes to shock the audience or punctuate a joke. Amit Trivedi’s terrific original songs are interspersed with Bollywood hits from the 1970s (ostensibly from the soundtracks of Pramod Sinha’s films).

Khurrana learned to play the piano well enough that cinematographer K. U. Mohanan could shoot Akash playing in full frame, instead of filming him from the chest up and inserting shots of a real pianist’s hands doing the playing. It’s an example of the cast & crew’s dedication that helps make Andhadhun so darned fun to watch.

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17 thoughts on “Movie Review: Andhadhun (2018)

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  2. Thank you

    Thank you for your favorable review. Courtesy of that and one other favorable review, I saw it a few hours ago and it was as enjoyable as S. Raghavan’s Johnny Gaddaar, in spite of the 80 mile commute to get to an allegedly local theater.

    Knowing what I know now, I would happily undertake another 80 mile commute to a strange destination for S. Raghavan’s next film if it receives critical acclaim similar to this movie.

    The closest parallel from the popular art world that comes to mind is:

    Andhadhun is to Johnny Gaddaar what Use Your Illusion is to Appetite For Destruction [two Guns N’ Roses works]; in both cases the older work of art was truly memorable and generated a curiosity for what would come next [cliché: “cult classic”], the newer work was of a higher production value that took its time coming but did not disappoint in terms of content [cliché: “big time”]. In either case, there was nothing particularly bad about the interim works [Agent Vinod, Badlapur and G N’ R Lies], but the interim works are not in the same class as their respective predecessor and successor artworks. Sorry for the meadering thought. I’ll end it here hoping that S. Ragahavan’s next is not the equivalent of The Spaghetti Incident.

    For a second-week, mid-afternoon mid-week show, the theater was surprisingly well populated. It seems that the favorable reviews are having some beneficial effect.

    Regards.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      Thank you — my mind is blown! You have set a high bar for all future commenters! I challenge anyone to compare a filmmakers’ body of work to the discographies of Dio, Cinderella, or Queensryche.

      Also, I think you’re absolutely right. Agent Vinod is totally G N’ R Lies! I salute you, my friend! 🤘

      Reply
      1. Thank you

        Thank you for your courteous words.

        To be fair to G N’ R Lies and Agent Vinod, in case it was not obvious in my previous comment, there are components of both that are worthy of recognition.

        The conventionally most offensive lyric of “One in a million” in terms of political correctness, for instance, is similar in humor-tainted cynicism to the dead pan delivery of Mr. S. Khan as the aforementioned agent (a) whenever he identifies himself as Indian celebrities [read: Kapil Dev, Mahendra Sandhu] and (b) inquires of Ms. K. Khan’s character whether she would like a fruit juice, a virtue signal in urban India hinting at the advertized temperance of their womenfolk just after asking for a beer himself, a stereotypical articulation of a nouveau-age self-reliant man of the same time-space coordinates, .

        Patience is on par [in terms of delivering satisfaction] with the lyrical fight choreography involving a piano in the film, the melody in both harkeing back of an ‘old-school’ era of their genres [metalhead power ballads and speakeasies, respectively].

        Both have a remake characteristic; the movie is a smooth redo of the original just as Messrs. Rose, et. al. smoothened out redos of Used To Love Her …

        An unsurprising coincidence that you mentioned Dio; per Wikipeia Mr. A Rose did receive the 2014 Ronnie James Dio Lifetime Achievement Award, since anyone familiar with the GNR lead vocalist was probably aware of Mr. R. Dio astounding vocal skill.

        I apologize for supposedly blathering on about this meandering thought and will now attempt to veer towards a quieter mode.

        Regards.

        Reply
        1. Kathy Post author

          Oh, no, I thought the connection was apt. I really enjoy Agent Vinod and G N’ R Lies, even though both are less easily accessible/require more of a leap of faith to embrace them. Both have great qualities. I appreciate your thoroughness.

          Reply
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  4. Nisha

    My best to worst list of Raghavan’s films would be
    1. Andhadhun
    2. Badlapur
    3. Ek Haseena thi & Johnny Gaddar
    4. Agent Vinod

    In the last few years, Ayushmann has made great choices in the kind of films he has acted in. He is now in my list of “Oh it’s his film, must be an interesting one” actors along with Rajkumar Rao and Vicky Kaushal

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      I concur with your list, Nisha (although I haven’t seen Ek Haseena Thi). Ayushmann, Rajkummar, and Vicky have totally overshadowed their peers in the last year. I’m way more excited about their movies than anything Varun, Ranveer, Ranbir, Tiger, Arjun, or Sushant have lined up — and I’m not sure what Sidharth is up to these days. 😉

      Reply
      1. Nisha

        Oh you should totally watch Ek Haseena Thi… Its about a woman who is used and abused by her boyfriend and then she exacts revenge… features the amazing urmila matondkar

        Reply
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