Andhadhun review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
The closest I can come to describing the sublime pleasure of Andhadhun is that of an earnest Mr. Magoo. Imagine if we didn’t get that corporate and soulless retread of the 1990s and received a darkly comedic crime caper. Imagine Magoo more as a conflicted character, unsure of trying to report to the authorities of the horrors he has seen or may not have seen. Now that I write that, however, Mr. Magoo is perhaps not the right comparison, but what is with something so full of life for an Indian production with a truckload of smarts?
Akash is a blind pianist who is famous but mostly seems to keep to himself, with the exception of falling in love with the beautiful Sophie in a chance encounter. But that may be harder to accomplish with the latest development in the murder of an actor. Akash stumbles into this case which reveals his big secret: he can see. Having been witness to a dead body, he’s left with a moral dilemma of trying to find a way to bring justice without revealing his grift.
What follows is a wild black comedy of trying to do the right thing while escaping the clutches of dangerous men and organ harvesters. There’s poisonings, druggings, car chases, and deadly situations, all with a robust script that boasts such lines as “What is life? It depends on the liver.” Kidnappings, suicide stagings, and blackmails continue to mount the tension alongside scene of being trapped in elevators and blindfolded by bad guys. It takes a film with great gusto as well to have a scene where the hero is saved in the climax by a wild hare bounding onto the windshield of the villains trying to run him over. Just another fine example of Indian cinema willing to try anything for entertainment.
There’s a laundry list of twists and turns that I could plow through to showcase just how madcap this movie can be, but let’s keep it a little short. Sriram Raghavan gives his film a wonderfully retro flavor by paying homage to classic Indian cinema of the 1960s-1970s, even showcasing characters with an affinity for those rustier days of golden allure. At the same time, he gives the screwball formula a modern appeal evoked from his inspiration by the short French film The Piano Tuner. Of course, there are numerous inspirations he has cited throughout, including the Fargo TV series. This essentially gives his film a sort of Tarantino vibe, taking bits and pieces of the media he loves and strewing together in a pastiche so originally astonishing the stitching is hardly visible.
Andhandhun has all the unpredictability to make it that must-see giddy thriller of Indian cinema. The ease of absurd comedy and tense excitement makes for one of the strongest of pictures from Raghavan. I’ve taken great care in my review not to mention too much of the twists and for good reason. It’s the type of film you want to just unleash on somebody without much knowledge ahead of time, just to see the look on their faces when surprises after surprise grace the screen.