Unfolding another mystery

Amrita Prasad
Friday, 28 September 2018

Screen writer and director Sriram Raghavan, whose film AndhaDhun is scheduled to release next week, talks about crime as a genre, working with Tabu and Ayushmann Khurrana, and why he doesn’t take awards seriously

His name has somewhat become synonymous with noir. Even though he’s made only five full-length films in the last 14 years of his career as a filmmaker, most of them are classic thrillers that people can’t stop raving about. After giving us films like Ek Hasina Thi, Johnny Gaddaar, Agent Vinod and Badlapur, film director and screenwriter Sriram Raghavan is back with another crime mystery, AndhaDhun. 

Starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Tabu, Radhika Apte, Anil Dhawan and others, AndhaDhun is set to hit theatres on October 5. The trailer of the film featuring Ayushmann as a blind pianist has already garnered a lot of attention.

 “The film’s title is a pun on the word andhadhun. The protagonist is blind (andha) and a musician as well. While dhun means musical tune, andhadhun also means mayhem, which is unleashed once Ayushmann (Aakash) gets entangled in a murder case. Haven’t you heard the phrase ‘Andhadhun goliya chal rahi thi?,” asks Raghavan.

Characters are everyday people
Aakash, a visually challenged but happy man, finds his life taking a sharp turn when crossing paths with Tabu, a mysterious woman. Whether he’s blind or not or who is the murderer is for the audience to find out. Raghavan, who likes his audience to put two and two together and play a bit of the guessing game while watching his films, says, “The characters in my films aren’t professional criminals or terrorists — they are everyday people who end up doing something wrong out of impulse. They can be anyone — living in your nextdoor apartment, leading a normal life. But they could get caught in situations and circumstances, and may not have control over them. They could end up doing something that they may not have intended to do. What happens, how they deal with it is what makes the story of AndhaDhun.” 

The idea of this film was there with the director for a long time and was initially discussed with Varun Dhawan. “The toughest part of making this film was deciding how to end it. I hope we have made the right decision,” adds Raghavan, who shot the film in Pune. 

“It was still ‘a work in progress’ script when I discussed it with Varun, so we ended up making Badlapur as it’s script was ready. But I was determined to make AndhaDhun and was contemplating  whom to cast. I had a couple of names in mind. My requirement was somebody who had the time to learn the piano, which was an essential requirement for the script. One day, I received a text from Ayushmann saying he had heard the script and would be willing to audition for the part. He has an infectious enthusiasm and is also a musician, which fulfilled my requirement. He could learn the piano much faster than anyone else. Also, Ayushmann wanted to break away from the slice-of-life kind of movies that he was doing and wanted to experiment with this role,” explains Raghavan.  

The idea is not to repeat 

The filmmaker has given us some cult films and each is different from the other. Ask him if that’s challenging and he says, “The idea is not to repeat myself. You have to find different ways of expressing it. In AndhaDhun, you see very dark and grim things happening in broad daylight. There are no dark alleys, or shadows. These are some of the interesting things that sets the film apart from the rest,” he says.

Every genre has its own fan following. “I’m a huge Alfred Hitchcock fan who was primarily into suspense thriller, but even in this genre whatever he created, he presented them with a lot of variety, perceptions, and aspects and gave it a different treatment. Similarly, I try not to make it the same. While Badlapur is a very intense film, AndhaDhun has more funny undertones,” says the FTII  alumni. Despite his films being dark with crime at its centre, they all have beautiful music. “Well, this is the first time that a musician is the central character of my film and is actually singing. Otherwise, in most of my films, music is just in the background. Each movie has its own demands,” he adds. 

The director always had Tabu in mind while writing the film so casting her was like a dream come true. “She is one actor who has done a range of films like Maqbool, The Namesake, Chandni Bar, Cheeni Kum etc. It was a unique experience working with her,” adds the filmmaker.   

Go with your own vision

Often when directors collaborate with big production houses, they face limitations in terms of their vision about the film. Explaining how Raghavan goes about it, he says, “It is a collaboration and you have to convince them to put their money in your story and ‘jhelo’ (tolerate) their expert advice at times. You thank them for it and go about doing your own thing.”   

Ask him how seriously he takes awards, and he replies, “I don’t take them seriously. There are too many of them. It is not the most important thing in a filmmaker’s life. The vision is to get the film made in the right manner and reach the right audience.”

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