Ayushmann Khurrana Starrer Andhadhun And Tumbbad: Two Intriguing Stories To Keep You Entertained Ahead Of The Weekend-PART 70

Check out our 70th edition of Lockdown blues chasers. We have Ayushmann Khurrana starrer Andhadhun and the film Tumbbad; two interesting stories to chase away your lockdown blues

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Ayushmann Khurrana Starrer Andhadhun And Tumbbad: Two Intriguing Stories To Keep You Entertained Ahead Of The Weekend-PART 70
Andhadhun (2018):  Take a deep breath. Now, brace yourself for an experience that simultaneously defies  and defines all the rules of  the suspense genre. The last time director Sriram Raghavan took us on a similarly clenched suspenseful rollercoaster ride in ‘Ek Haseena Thi’ the moral compass was far less askew. Here in Andhadhun every character barring Radhika Apte’s, is  prone to  bouts of  shrill moral discrepancy that leaves  us stunned. Now where did that come from! I found myself  asking this question at least a dozen  times as  I sat frozen  in my seat  resigned  to  the frenzied flurry of fate and serendipity that  guides this  utterly unpredictable tale of  unhampered hankerings and  unstoppable calamities. But hang on. How do I review this  film without giving away  the plot? Andhadhun is a spoiler’s paradise. There are so many twists  in the plot that a more apt title according to me, would  be Aao Twist Karen (for the record, the  directors confirms this was  a title seriously considered). And none of these twists and turns in this sharply curved  thriller  is a red herring.

Everything and nothing makes sense in the morally unhinged world of Sriram Raghavan. People kill maim hoodwink and betray the unsuspecting at the drop of a hat. The film’s hero is a blind pianist, played with  eclectic  aplomb by Ayushmann Khurrana. We soon get to know the blind pianist is not blind after all. Though mercifully he remains a pianist right until the bitter battered finale when nemesis is no longer willing to stay huddled in a corner. Raghavan’s talented team of co-writers (Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti, Yogesh Chanderkar) take the kinetic plot all over the pace without losing its bearings. Just when we are getting to know the blind pianist, the narrative introduces a smouldering  femme fatale,  played by the resplendent Tabu, and her aging superstar-husband whom she may not want around for too long. You know how these  femme fatales are?

Before I  move on—as this film constantly forces  you to do—I must take  a break to say that casting the 1970s’ star Anil Dhawan as  the fading suprerstar Pramod  Kumar is a masterstroke. Dhawan has the hits and his character is as emptied of heft as an artiste  as Dhawan was in his heydays. Raghava loves to adorn his thrillers with retro embellishments. In Johnny Gaddar,  he some  used the 1970s’ hits with telling impact. This time in Andhadhun, Raghav pulls  out all the stops to envelope  Anil Dhawan’s character  with a swirling retro-heat. Songs, scenes  from Anil Dhawan’s starrers  swish by in  tantalizing glimpses. And to  hear Ayushmann sing  and play  ‘Ghuzar jaye din’ from the Anil Dhawan starrer Annadata,  is  a joy that the  grey-black characters cannot thwart. This cannibalization  of  cinema history with  fiction is  in keeping with the narrative’s mood of yoking personal details  from  the characters’ lives with flights  of fictional fantasy. We know  the pianist-hero is not what he seems. But just how far his deception goes comes a  shocker. No one except the surprisingly insipid Ms Apte is to be trusted. There is a game-plan behind the seeming placidity that every character demonstrates. The remarkable fusion of colours and moods lends a  blended  brilliance  to the  frames. In one sequence, the blind pianist plays  on as a dead body appears in the frame. Red wine and blood mingle on the floor. Elsewhere, an old woman is hurled  to her death  from  a skyscraper. As  investigations go on, an abandoned  schoolbag lies on  the floor. Probably, some kid who was hastily bundled  back home after the crime. Death is never far away from the characters. They live with the fear of losing their lives. But they do not allow that fear to overrule their avarice and ambitions. This feeling of un-trapped trepidation runs deep into the script. Even when the second-half becomes less elegantly chaotic than the first the narrative never fails to keep us on our toes. We never know what may happen next in this saga of  the raga and retribution, told with a verve and velocity that  the suspense genre has never experienced  before in Hindi cinema. So if you’ve been wondering why suspense films in Indian cinema seem so amateurish think no more. Andhadhun is everything that a murder mystery should be. Filled with morally reprehensible characters including an absolutely debauched cop (Manav Vij, dazzlingly slimy)  it doesn’t try  to  impress us with the right moral values. God is on leave. And goodness is on a hunger strike in this film about greed passion and nemesis.

Tumbbad (2018): What on earth is this? This….this….magnificent creature masquerading as a movie  haunts your senses  for long after  the closing images of raging  destruction in  the stunning finale. Little wonder that  the  incredible Anand Gandhi who  created—no,  I won’t use the mundane  word ‘made’—the  astonishing The Ship Of Theseus, is closely associated with Tumbbad. The visual imagery of this film is incomparable. Perhaps, Sanjay Leela Bhansali on a particularly anxious night, would think up the visual language of Tumbbad. Raging and divine, Tumbbad looks  like  a universe that  God created and forgot to put on the human map. Feverish and fertile, this is a work of luminous lunacy.  A parable on greed, lust and lustful greed, this magical mystical film weaves layer after layer of drama  based on illusion, subterfuge  and self-delusion. The vortex of the violently  intense drama are two  anti-heroes: greed and a man called Vinayak who fornicates (in a  manner of speaking) with an evil God. And if that strikes  you as an  oxymoron , then be prepared  for  more  of  the same. Tumbbad  offers a tumble of  overweening contradictions . It captures of chaos of a world governed by greed and the rapid fall of a  man who knows no other God larger than greed.

Based on  a  folklore  about a banished blacklisted God and a man who thinks gold coins are  all  one needs  to be happy,  the plot  creates a  blinding blur  at the borderline between  Good and Evil. This is a world ruled by the  craziness  of  a rudderless God. Repeatedly we see Vinayak spiralling down a dark sinister well, the most frightening descent into a man-made hell I’ve seen in cinema. Co-directors Anand Gandhi and Rahi Anil Barve have dared to enter a world that on paper seems impossible to render visually. Yet, they’ve done it!  A large  share of the  credit for  the film’s visual resplendence must go to  cinematographer Pankaj Kumar (who also  shot The Ship Of Theseus). To  translate  into  visual terms  the  devastating  images  of  satanic hankering  seems  like  an impossible  feat. Just how he film’s visual magnificence  is achieved  is  a thing to  behold, beyond any  attempt to define or explain.

Tumbbad is shot in rain-infested ruins that manifest the dismantling depravity of a civilization on the brink of a moral breakdown. Standing at the centre of this universe of damnation is  Vinayak performed with such brutal  brilliance by Sohum Shah. Is he not among the  finest  contemporary actors  of India? To handle with such ferocious fluency the diabolic complexities of a character so steeped  in greed … and then there  is  little Mohd Samad as Vinayak’s son. The young actor  is required to express an overweening desire to  grow into negative adult emotions without losing his character’s innate  innocence. Shah and Samad are jointly exceptional.  But the film has many other heroes. The bleak  landscape bleeds a monsoonal  tragedy suggesting ruin and diobolism, Ajay-Atul’s background score is so evocative and  articulate, easily the best I’ve heard  in a recent Indian  film. But above all this film is a writing triumph. It wrenches the supernatural genre from its  roots and  transports it into a land  so eerie and enchanting, I felt I was suspended between a startled sigh and a satisfied swoon. If you think cinema is predominantly a visual medium then don’t missTumbbad. It creates images of darkness and  despair with the ripe immediacy of  tree laden with fruits .Fruits that you may perhaps never taste again.


Image source: IMDb, Amazon