Fifteen minutes into Andhadhun, director-writer Sriram Raghavan and his team of writers, Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti, Yogesh Chandekar and Hemant Rao establish everything there is to establish in this film. Is Ayushmann Khurrana’s Akash blind or not, is Tabu’s Simi a mistress or not, what is Radhika Apte’s Sophie doing in this narrative and where is this film going? These are answers I can’t give you, because if I do, they’ll be spoilers, but moments into the film, you know it all. And what you also know is that you’re in for a ride, that you’re going to watch a very well crafted film.
If, by watching the trailer, you assumed that this is a suspense film, you’re wrong. There is no suspense, even towards the end. But there is thrill. You hold on to the edge of your seat dying to know what is going happen next, is someone going to die, is a new character going to pop up, and many more such questions.
I tend to really like films where there isn’t too much set up, where they don’t take some ten odd minutes to introduce the hero – basically where they waste time. Even with a runtime of two hours and twenty minutes, Andhadhun doesn’t have a single moment that shouldn’t have been there in the film. And almost every single scene leaves you puzzled, thinking about what Raghavan is going to throw at you next.
As a film, Andhadhun is one of the best thrillers coming out of Hindi Cinema. I wouldn’t call it my favourite thriller because Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani (2012) is a film I love from the bottom of my heart but this film definitely matches up to that level of perfection. Along with his team of writers, Raghavan writes a story and narrates it in the most appropriate way. There is the perfect amount of drama, thrill, amazing performances, a beautiful background score and best of all, great pace.
When watching a thriller, the audience needs to be kept at the edge of their seat, making sure that the pace falls for not a single second. And Raghavan lives up to that.
And what drives this pace and narrative are Ayushmann Khurrana and Tabu. Both terrific performers in their own ways. Khurrana plays Akash, a blind pianist, and I can’t say more than that. All I can, is that this is his career best performance, and I’ve watched all his films. To be able to shine as much as Tabu is a tough one to crack, but Khurrana does it and he does it mercilessly, tapping into his wildest potential. To play a blind character isn’t easy and it could’ve gone very wrong but Khurrana seems to have done his homework in abundance.
On the other hand, Tabu proves that with each passing film, she’s getting more and more talented. To play blind is tough, but to be with a blind person, understand his emotions and deliver when you know the other person is not, or rather can’t, look into your eyes is equally tough. But for Tabu, it isn’t. She brings Simi, a very usual character, to life.
Radhika Apte comes and goes in an extended cameo/supporting role and isn’t given much to do but she shines in her moments. It’s Apte we’re talking about, how can she not shine!
Anil Dhawan, Ashwini Kalsekar and Zakir Hussain also make appearances and the brilliance of the writing is that each of them are given their own moments, despite the fact that they just have a few scenes. There also is the wonderful Manav Vij, who plays – I can’t tell you what – and like the other actors, he gets his moments, however brief, and shines on.
All in all, Andhadhun is the kind of film we deserve – brilliant writing, terrific performances and despite the runtime, crisp.
If I had to rate the film: