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.