Right from the first frame itself, Sriram Raghavan's AndhaDhun drags you straight into its twisted world where every character comes with a shade of a grey. The film starts on a rather perplexing note with a hunting game where you witness a hare hopping across a cabbage field, nearly evading the armed assailant who repeatedly misses the target. A resounding gunshot and boom, the screen goes black! That's just the tip of an iceberg when it comes to the number of surprises in AndhaDhun.
Akash (Ayushmann Khurrana) is a blind pianist who is in search of a perfect 'dhun'. He has a black-and-white cat for company who occasionally even doubles up as a listener for his musical pieces. Till one fine day, he literally crashes into the winsome Sophie (Radhika Apte) by 'accident'. Sparks fly; but at the same time, some terrific revelations are made to the audience.
On the other hand, Pramod Sinha aka Pammi (Anil Dhawan) is a a yesteryear Bollywood star who has actual movie posters of his past films lining his room and who derives guilty pleasure from scrolling through YouTube videos of his films and admiring the comments underneath them. His much-younger wife Simi (Tabu) harbours aspirations of her own.
As the events unfold, Aakash finds himself playing a cheerful melody on the piano with a dead body lying in the same room. The more he tries to go away from the it, the more he gets entangled in the mess and the morals go for a toss with treachery and trickery walking hand-in-hand.
Sriram Raghavan picks up just a thread from the French short film L'Accordeur or The Piano Tuner (2010) by Olivier Treiner and weaves a compelling story which is a perfect mix of pulp and contemporary. With clever usage of visual motifs and references, he makes sure that the underlying theme isn't lost in chaos. Of course, the delicious touch of humour even in the most intense situation adds more to the thrills.
On the flip side, AndhaDhun loses some of its steam at few places in the second half. Having said that, Sriram Raghavan succeeds in making those glitches a faded memory by wrapping the film with an exhilarating climax which pulls off the rug underneath your feet.
Speaking about the performances, AndhaDhun is Ayushmann Khurrana's best shot and he hits it straight out of the park. Radhika Apte lends her own distinct shade to the plot. Tabu or the 'Lady Macbeth' delivers a knock-out performance as a lady who is charm and deadly in equal quantities. Anil Dhawan as the fading 60s superstar laces his character with a sense of eccentricity which makes AndhaDhun even more gripping.
Manav Vij, Chaya Kadam, Ashwini Kalsekar and Zakir Hussain leave an indelible impression.
The team of writers which include Sriram Raghavan, Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti and Yogesh Chandekar need to be applauded for their razor-sharp writing which manages to evoke the right emotions in the audience.
Pooja Ladha Surti's editing adds a certain crispiness to the film. K.U Mohanan's top-notch cinematography sucks you in, in the crazy world of AndhaDhun. Amit Trivedi's music leaves you spellbound particularly the piano pieces which linger for long.
Sriram Raghavan scores a winner in AndhaDhun with his brisk writing, masterly performances and an intoxicating background score. I am going with 4 stars.