Last week, Bhramam starring Prithviraj Sukumaran and Mamta Mohandas became the first Malayalam movie to hit cinemas since the Covid-19 pandemic-imposed closures in India. A remake of the acclaimed 2018 Bollywood hit Andhadhun, directed by Sriram Raghavan, the black comedy follows a blind pianist who unwittingly becomes an accessory to murder.
Hours before its release, Bhramam's cast and director Ravi K Chandran flew to Dubai to reiterate their belief that the end product of their efforts would prove to be equally potent content, if not better, for audiences in the southern end of India.
"When I saw the film, I was intrigued and immediately called up Sriram to say, 'This is a film made for Malayalam cinema'," Chandran told a select audience at Vox cinemas, City Centre Deira.
Films from south India have traditionally been the inspiration for Bollywood's Hindi films. Incidentally, Andhadhun is the second Hindi film to be remade in a regional language in recent months. Veteran film producer Boney Kapoor released Vakeel Saab in Tamil and Telugu languages in April, an adaptation of the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Pink.
Sadly though, Bhramam suffers the same fate as most remakes – you cannot unsee the original source material simply because it's in new packaging.
While Andhadhun's success hinged on its cast's powerful yet restrained performances – with the lead Khurrana's pretentious musician flitting between various shades of good and evil while keeping the audience guessing on the veracity of his blindness – a much-expected twist in the plot of Brahmam sadly never happens. Instead, writer Sarath Balan weaves in a bit of comedy while turning the leads into flashy characters.
The music by Jakes Bejoy also seems forced into place.
Before the film's release, Prithviraj and Mamta stressed repeatedly that they had a challenge ahead because "you cannot ace what Andhadhun has already aced. It's such a good film."
Prithviraj said: "If I deliver the goods as Ayushmann did, I will be very flattered. If not, I will try to work harder and improve."
Even in the absence of a strong script and false comedy notes, the actor shines in the film. While Mamta doesn't get ahead of the script, her performance makes the film watchable.
Yet the fact remains that the movie's Dubai producers, AP International and Bluechip Investments, who chose their first film venture from Hindi cinema, are bucking a trend.
"Films like Pink and Andhadhun being remade in the South is testimony to the fact that a lot of good content is coming up in Bollywood," Tanya Wadhwa, brand manager for Golden Cinema, said. "That's due to the fact that among the current lot of directors and writers, there are many who will not shy away from new ideas and content-driven cinema."
'Bhramam' is currently showing in UAE cinemas