Blind Man’s B(l)uff
Sriram Raghavan, Tabu and AndhaDhun team attended PIFF Forum and discussed the finer points of the film and why it resonated with the audience
The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) listed the mystery thriller AndhaDhun among top 10 Indian films of 2018 beating Tamil psycho-thriller Ratsasan.
Ranked sixth on the list, AndhaDhun, which released on October 5, is a black comedy crime thriller directed by Sriram Raghavan and features Tabu, Ayushmann Khurrana and Radhika Apte. The film’s linear plot has an ambiguous ending and leaves the audience guessing if Akash (Ayushmann), the ‘blind pianist’ who gets embroiled in a murder case, was really blind after all. Sriram’s film involved the audience to put two and two together in order to solve the mystery, and perhaps that is one of the reasons why the film is still talked two and a half months after it was released.
The team of AndhaDhun comprising Sriram, Tabu, sound designer Madhu Apsara and screen writer Pooja Ladha Surti, attended PIFF Forum. They exchanged views on the subject ‘AndhaDhun - A Vision of Chaos’ with the chairman and director of PIFF, Dr Jabbar Patel and creative director at PIFF, Samar Nakhate.
Nakhate, who co-ordinated the discussion asked Sriram if he was happy with the success of AndhaDhun which doesn’t have a conventional script or treatment of a Bollywood film. Said Sriram, “Like every filmmaker, I wanted people to like this film. But more than the success, the process of making AndhaDhun was more gratifying. We didn’t want to spoonfeed the audience or talk down them because I believe they are very smart.”
Tabu plays Simi, who has an extramarital affair with a police inspector and because of certain circumstances ends up killing her husband. It leads to another murder and Akash, the blind pianist, gets trapped in it. Talking about her role, Tabu said, “Sriram makes it look very simple but it was one of the most challenging characters that I’ve played. It is a very fast-paced film, where things keep changing in every single scene. So as Simi, I had to constantly think, and be ahead. Yet, the challenge is that you can’t deviate from the plot or give different interpretations of the character. I didn’t expect this kind of positioning at this point of time in my career.”
Comparing Simi with Nimmi, her character in Maqbool, Tabu said, “The difference between the two is that Simi didn’t plan or design things that happen to her, whereas Nimmi is somewhere aware of her intentions and desires.”
Screen-writer Surti added, “Simi isn’t a villain. She was leading her life, but things change and she deals with them. We didn’t try to justify her meanness, nor did we try to portray her as a vamp.”
AndhaDhun also has a distinct layer of comedy running through a dark film. “We wanted to make it human and organic, hence this comic treatment to the scenes that were dark and intense. The humour is the result of the reactions that each character has, to the circumstances they are put into. The reason we had the integration of subtle comedy in the film is because of the awkwardness in the thriller. It was always meant to be an absurd situation,” Sriram clarified.
When someone from the audience asked if Akash was actually blind in the last scene, Sriram affirmed that it was for the audience to decide. “While narrating a plot, there are points that you don’t go too deep into. Someone wrote on social media that maybe Akash gets Manohar’s eyes (Tabu’s lover in the film). We didn’t even think of this ending, which is fabulous because the audience now owns this film and has given it newer dimensions,” said Sriram.