Spoiler Alert ! Andhadhun, I think was one of the best movies to hit the screens this year and Sriram Raghavan’s return to fine form. Even wrote a piece on it but I honestly never gave the ending much thought until Sandeep brought it up the other day. Yeah, I guess this is what happens when you start writing your own reviews and stop looking up movie info online, you miss out on perspectives and trivia. Personally I do that to stay original, an impressionable mind I have, alas. Back when I watched the film in the theatre nextdoor, the part where Ayushman Khurrana’s character hits the can with his cane was just an indication that he was not blind anymore.The only fact that registered in my mind rather I was receptive of, was the simple explanation that he had moved on having escaped from the shady doctor and the femme fatale thanks to the random rabbit. Now that Hafeez had also asked me about the ending I had little choice but to watch the ending again, thanks to the Netflix progress bar.
Now to get down to the brass tacks, this is what I found, the narrative of the film ends from the audience’s perpsective when the doctor and the blind Akash are driving in a car with Tabu in the boot. The doctor tells him he would give him a cut once Tabu’s liver is sold and that he can get his cornea replaced too, if its a match.Akash doesn’t say much, rather he’s contemplating. Then the doctor dishes out his piece of instant philosophy, Whats’s life, it all depends on the “liver”. A tractor passes, carrying a bunch of people singing prayers aloud, chimes and all (1). With that we see the car driving down the road , off into the distance with a lonley tree standing guard by the side (2). That’s essentially where us viewers get off from the car too and the tree is our landmark for a reason, I can’t but help feel.Next, we see Radhika Apte’s Sohpie meeting Akash somewhere in Europe, as the movie prompts and we are at a point where she asks, and then?, echoing our thoughts.
The movie cuts back to scene in the car and we are at the point where the doctor just finishes his liver line. No chants, no chimes, no tractor this time around though, conspicuous by absence as they say (3). Akash, in his own version is now righteous, trying to convince the doctor otherwise when there’s thumping in the boot and the doctor stops to put Tabu out of her misery. He gets out and walks over to the boot. You see that the car has stopped by the tree (4) . To me atleast, this is proof enough of what happened, with the tree and the spot where the car stops being the tell-tale signs, literally. It’s safe to assume now that Akash is indeed lying to Sophie and most probably he decided to join the doctor in his little scheme. But then, is it that simple again, why the one eyed rabbit? why the cane with a rabbit carved on the knob in his arms?. Red herrings, maybe. Nolan is not the only one who can spin a top, I guess.
Of the four movies made by Sriram Raghvan until Andhadhun, Johnny Gaddar defines his sensibilites as a filmmaker the most I’d say. The man obviously has an obsession with Bollywood thrillers and music from the 70s and makes conscious effort to use it as a motif in every movie of his, not much unlike Tarantino’s thing for B movies from Italy and Hong Kong. Though his debut as a director was in the Ram Gopal Varma stable with Ek Haseena Thi, it was indeed with Johnny Gaddar that Sriram Raghavan truly came into his own. Everything about the movie was alien to Bollywood at the time it was released. Sriram Raghavan had quietly slipped in neo-noir into the Bollywood portfolio. He has the most outlandish choice of lead actors too interestingly. Saif Ali Khan broke new ground with Ek Haseena Thi, Neil Nitin Mukesh had a gritty debut in Johnny Gaddar, Varun Dhawan dropped his Govinda-born-again desi boy act for the first time, briefly though and asked the audience to take him seriously as an actor in Badlapur and now Ayushmann Khuranna has gone and done the same, explore new territory as an actor, I mean. The twist in Sriram Raghavan films starts right with the casting I guess.
Andhadhun is Sriram Raghavan in top form and he makes your time in the dark hall worth every second of it. The premise was initially Hitchcockian with a dash of Billy Wilder thrown in. More noirish than neo- noir, the proceedings on screen early on invoked memories of classics from Vertigo to Double Indemnity to The Big Sleep. Sriram Raghavan is a man born in the wrong age of cinema I could’nt but help feel and that’s when I noticed a thematic homage to the Coen Brothers brand of filmmaking, a cinematic wormhole between ages I’d say. Like in life and in the Coens’ world, most notably the one in Fargo, in Andhadhun too ordinary people have their lives turned topsy turvy by extraordinary acts of crime in the heat of a moment. Quirky criminal characters are around here too. Sriram Raghavan’s greatest success in Andadhun is that he has managed to imbue a genuine element of humor throughout the film without compromising on any elements of suspense in this taut thriller. It’s that humor factor which might make this film more endearing to the viewers in stark contrast to the gritty thriller that Badlapur was.
Any discussion about Andhadhun would be incomplete without an elaboration about the two individuals who carry this film almost entirely on their shoulders, a measured Ayushmann Khuranna and a terrific Tabu at her wicked best, the Ruk Ruk girl almost but with a deadly twist. She pulls off the difficult role effortlessy and when I tell you that you can’t hate her even in her meanest moments on screen, you could accuse me of being a biased fan boy but trust me, once you get to watch her you’d agree too. You can tell she’s having fun with the role too. Anil Dhawan relives his brief glory days in a role that’s almost him playing himself. Radhika Apte is her brilliant self again and no she’s not frowning, entirely. Zakir Hussain is a Sriram Raghavan regular and transforms into character like always. Another Sriram Raghavan favorite Aswini Kalsekar makes her mark in a brief yet fiesty role. Manav Vij was a new face to me. From the guy who played the autodriver and Chaya Kadam who played Maushi to the kid next door, no character, however short their screen time, is without reason in a Sriram Raghavan film. Everything counts and nothing is what it seems to be, so don’t blink when you’re watching Andhadhun.Kidding.Am I? Find out for yourself.