09 Oct 2018
Analyzing 'Andhadhun', the perfect blind date for cinema lovers
'Andhadhun' is Sriram Raghavan's latest film that has garnered the critics' love and the audience's amazement.
The screwball noir film stars Ayushmann Khurrana, Tabu, Radhika Apte and a past star, Anil Dhawan.
It follows the story of a piano player who is apparently blind and walks into a murder scene. The consequences of this action set off the film that will keep you on edge.
Disclaimer for the readers
Before you read further, be warned that 'Andhadhun' is a thriller, and the film keeps you guessing. The in-depth analysis here will contain some spoilers that might ruin the movie-watching experience. Alternatively, you might enjoy the movie more after reading our analysis of it.
What is a screwball noir film?
For those unaware, film noir and screwball comedies are popular Hollywood genres.
They can be uniquely combined, where a dark act, say a murder, is followed by a series of actions where worst possible outcomes come true.
The exaggerated tragedy of the worst possible outcome makes it comical, while the core act underlying the situation remains serious, giving birth to the amalgamated screwball noir.
Do you know?
Comedy and crime do not always mix
Interestingly, screwball noir is an extremely difficult genre to navigate due to the fine balance required between the portrayal of crime and comedy. Notably, the Coen brothers are masters of this genre with films like 'Blood Simple' and 'Fargo' to their names.
Sing us a song, you're the piano man
Andhadhun's story follows a pianist, Akash, faking blindness as an artistic experiment. An accident lands him a music gig and he meets Sophie. The two start a relationship.
His talent gets him invited to Pramod and Simi Sinha's house. On arrival, he sees Pramod murdered.
He tries to report it and realizes Simi's accomplice is a police officer.
Akash's life goes haywire thereon.
A word on the acting
Khurrana as the apparently blind Akash delivers a convincing performance. Radhika shines too, unburdened by the usual heavy roles she is assigned.
Yesteryear's actor, Dhawan invokes director Raghavan's love for old movies through his role.
However, Tabu as Simi really stands out. As the femme fatale, Tabu effortlessly includes a range of emotions and becomes a force of nature, more than just a character.
Fantastic writing, and the rabbit holes in the film
'Andhadhun' is inspired by 'L'Accordeur' or 'The Piano Tuner', a 2010 short film.
Raghavan's script must be lauded for its economic approach. The first fifteen minutes introduce major characters.
Constantly changing situations and outsmarting general expectations make it thrilling and keep viewers on their toes.
Expecting the unexpected in 'Andhadhun'
Unlike most cinemas, where audiences can predict where the movie is going, 'Andhadhun' keeps outsmarting them at every turn.
Raghavan takes advantage of the screwball noir, giving audiences the worst possible situation they did not even consider.
As he takes viewers down multiple rabbit holes, his perfect control of the story ends masterfully.
Audiences are bound to leave amazed at the plot's unique unpredictability.
The film is alive with the sound of music
The film makes brilliant use of piano music that underscores all action. Notably, 'Andhadhun' has one of the best uses of Beethoven's fifth symphony in Indian cinema.
However, one scene that appeared disjointed was Akash playing the piano at Pramod's funeral. This might be chalked to Pramod's self-confessed love for music, but a pianist at an Indian funeral appeared out of place.
The scene that sets up the movie
Raghavan brilliantly depicts the aftermath of Pramod's murder, which forms the film's basis.
With apparently oblivious Akash on the piano, Simi and lover-accomplice, Manohar, played by Manav Vij, clean up the crime scene.
The frantic movements to the piano's tempo hark back to the silent movie era.
The sequence has a comically gruesome climax when Manohar breaks off Pramod's finger to retrieve his ring.
An ode to cinema and literature
'Andhadhun' subtly refers to several works of art.
Notably, Sinha's neighbor points the police towards 'the third man', referring to Graham Greene's novel.
The nosy neighbor is killed by Simi. The overhead shot is remarkably similar to Alexandro Avranas' 2013 movie, 'Miss Violence'.
Lastly, when Akash plays the piano and Sophie silently watches, it is a nod to the La La Land's final moments.
The unreliability of the narrator
Without giving spoilers, let us say Akash had not been a reliable narrator throughout the movie.
He lied about his blindness. However, eventually, he did lose his eyesight.
His final encounter with Simi and his escape was only recounted later to Sophie.
The audience wonder if they know the whole truth or Akash's version.
The question about Akash's eyesight will trouble you for days.