AndhaDhun director Sriram Raghavan is an Alfred Hitchcock fan.
And while his latest work is not a whodunnit, it still offers a suspense thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Raghavan, who rose to fame with the 2007 thriller film Johnny Gaddar, directs this neo-noir film , taking inspiration from a 2010 French short film called L'Accordeur (The Piano Tuner) by Oliver Treiner.
The film's original working title was 'Blind Piano Player'. AndhaDhun literally translates to 'blind music', but is also slang for blindly, mostly in a scramble situation.
In Raghavan's own words ahead of the film's release, it is built around a one eight-minute scene that triggers a roller-coaster ride down a rabbit hole. That riveting scene is when Akash (Ayushmann Khurrana), a blind piano player, unwittingly enters a murder scene where he had been sent by an old film star of yesteryears to surprise his young wife Simi (Tabu). The film is loaded with twists and turnsthat it is almost impossible to mention anything without giving away spoilers.
And what looks like a random opening scene that shows a rabbit with a line about the importance of liver in a man's life or another of a hunter chasing a partially blind rabbit through a forest is used as a metaphor for a visually-impaired man who is scampering around blindly, relevance. All of these scenes have been meticulously scripted by a team of writers including Raghavan.
A remarkable performance
The two star in the film Khurrana and Tabu are outstanding as ever as the main protagonists. Khurrana is a composer himself, but worked hard for two months with Los Angeles-based pianist Akshay Verma for the film. The music is crucial in this film with a solid background score.
A mini-casting coup has made the job easier for music director Amit Trivedi as well as the writers. The role of the old film star is played by Anil Dhawan, an actor who can boast of some melodious tracks from the limited number of films he did in the 1970s. Those tracks not only form as a prop, but contribute as lyrical punchlines, at times as relief outlets when the pressure builds up in the second half.
As the chain of events unfold, the wit is very nicely interspersed with hard-hitting moments of greed and deceit providing a shock-and-awe effect that leaves you wondering how vulnerable can a common man be.
Raghavan, in fact, keeps everyone aware of the murderers, the who and why, and is one step ahead of the game.
Drawing the viewers into multiple situations of right and wrong, black and white and then shades of grey, the climax also ends on a similar note with a deliberate climax, typical Hitchcock-ian, between salvation and revelation. Like it or not, AndhaDhun is a must-watch movie, nevertheless.
As Jean Luc-Godard, the French-Swiss director and pioneer of the 1960s New Wave films movement, once said, "It's not where you take things from. It's where you take them to."
AndhaDhun is in cinemas across the UAE