Here’s my good deed of the day: Go watch “Andhadhun.” Don’t look it up. Don’t stream interviews, don’t search for too many photos, don’t even watch the trailer above (clickbait, we know). And above all, DON’T. READ. SPOILERS. Got it? Okay.
(But for real, my actual good deed of the day is to remind all readers registered to vote in the USA to please do so in the midterm elections. Seriously. #sorrynotsorry)
The best decision I’ve made recently is to go watch this absolute masterpiece with no prior preparation. I issued the caveat above for a reason: I went in blind, and I had the time of my life. See, I just made a first-class pun there, and I hope you don’t get it because I hope you follow my advice.
I won’t tell you what this absolute masterpiece is about. Instead, I am going to make the case that what it’s about matters far less than all the other reasons why you should watch it ASAP. Watch it in a theater. “Andhadhun” deserves your money.
Instead of giving you several paragraphs’ worth of gushing, I’m going to go against my very nature and try to be brief.
Here’s why you should buy a ticket for “Andhadhun” today:
Sriram Raghavan is a genius. Like an honest-to-god, give-him-a-MacArthur-Grant-level-genius. The more times you watch “Andhadhun,” the better it gets, and the more you marvel at this man’s direction. The plot, execution, and the nine-dimensional chess that he plays with the audience is stupendous (we lose, and yet we so win).
The film is adapted from a French short film (don’t look it up yet!), but the premise of its 14-minute predecessor is just the starting point. “Andhadhun” is a genre-bending two hours and 30 minutes. I can hear you thinking to yourself, “Two and a half hours?!” Yes. It’s long by today’s standards. You’ll also lose yourself in the story to such a degree that time becomes a concept that has no place in your life. There are thrills, chills, and excellent music.
Speaking of which: The music. Oh, the music! Amit Trivedi is a criminally underrated music composer in Hindi cinema, and this is yet another album that also doubles as proof. The piano is almost another character in the already stellar cast, and its use extends far beyond background score, or just another instrument.
Special shout-out to a tune that starts out as a theme and evolves into a song by the end of the movie – it’s one of the many easter eggs that are scattered throughout the movie. Second shout-out to Ayushmann Khurana, who actually learned how to play piano for the film (Gosling who?), and plays brilliantly.
Besides the piano, the aforementioned stellar cast is one of the biggest strengths of “Andhadhun.” Anil Dhawan, an example of casting genius, shines in a role that was literally made for him. Ashwini Kalsekar and Chaya Kadam are as essential to the fabric of the story as the city of Pune (where the story takes place) is.
Rounding out this trio of Maharastrian goddesses is Radhika Apte (who is KILLING the game right now with roles in three Netflix projects this year alone: “Sacred Games,” the wildly underrated “Ghoul,” and “Lust Stories“). She plays a pivotal role with effortless ease.
However, there are two giants in this cast – two performances that are so good that appropriate adjectives and spoiler-free descriptions are hard to summon. Tabu, who has also always been criminally underrated, outdoes herself – her skills are unmatched, and she uses every tool in her arsenal to turn in one of the best performances by an actor I’ve seen, ever.
This is not a spoiler, but if anyone ever thinks of making “Game of Thrones” in Hindi, Tabu must be cast as Cersei Lannister, based on her performance in “Andhadhun” alone. That is all.
And finally, the andha of “Andhadhun,” Ayushmann Khurrana. I have to admit, I’ve always been a fan of his. Ever since he started out hosting reality shows, I’ve been a fan of his face, his voice, and his easy charm. But I did not think he had this in him.
It turns out, he does. In spades.
Khurrana’s performance rivals Tabu’s as one of the most complex, intricate, nuanced efforts by any actor in recent years.
This will make more sense after you’ve watched “Andhadhun,” but watching him as Akash can best be described as beholding a set of Russian nesting dolls all spinning at once. There are so many often dissonant layers to his role and his acting, that it is UNBELIEVABLE.
All of these elements come together to entertain and befuddle you, and they show you just how much potential Hindi cinema (and by extension, South Asian cinema) has, in terms of storytelling. Anyone who bemoans the fact that a Christopher Nolan-style film doesn’t exist in India hasn’t yet seen or heard about Sriram Raghavan and “Andhadhun.”
March 20, 2023March 21, 2023 4min readBy Nida Hasan
If you are a South Asian, born in the ’80s or the early ’90s, chances are your ideas of love and romance are heavily influenced by Hindi films — that first gaze, the secret love notes, that accidental meeting somewhere in Europe, over-the-top gestures and dancing around trees. While reality may have been far from what was promised on reel, you still can’t stop pining over a hopeless romantic, with chocolate boy looks, chasing you across the earth and many universes; in the life here and the ones after. Somewhere deep down, you still dream of that possibility despite your husband sitting and sipping his morning coffee right next to you. And much of the credit for weaving this dreamland, that we can’t resist happily sliding into, goes to the legendary Yash Chopra. Award-winning filmmaker Smriti Mundhra’s docu-series, “The Romantics,” that released on Netflix on February 14, chronicles Chopra’s prolific career; offering an illuminating look into the highs and lows of his journey, his unblemished vision for Hindi cinema and sheer love for filmmaking.
I wanted to look at Indian cinema through the lens of it being a major contributor to the global cinema canon and Yash Chopra seemed like the perfect lens to explore that because of the longevity of his career and the fact that he had worked across so many different genres. His films, for so many of us, defined what Hindi cinema is.
— Smriti Mundhra
As “The Romantics” unveils, in a mere episode — a challenging feat in itself — Chopra did experiment with multiple genres as a budding filmmaker, initially under the shadows of his elder brother B.R. Chopra. From the religiously sensitive “Dharamputra” and the trendsetting “Waqt” to the action-packed and iconic “Deewaar.” It wasn’t until later on in his career that he set a precedent for a Hindi film having a wholly romantic narrative; though “Waqt” did offer the perfect glimpse into what would go on to become Chopra’s cinematic imprint. And then came “Chandni” which ushered in a new era for Hindi cinema; defying the formulaic approach to box office success and making love stories the golden goose.
In the words of more than 30 famous faces, a host of archival videos and interviews, and personal anecdotes, audiences get an extensive insight into the life and career of Yash Chopra and the evolution of his vision through the business acumen and genius of his polar opposite son and a famous recluse, Aditya Chopra. “The Romantics” is not a fancy portrait of a legendary filmmaker but an exploration of what goes into making a successful film family and a path-breaking production house. As viewers, we not only get a peek into the making of a fantasy creator but also learn of the many failures, hurdles and uncertainties that the business of filmmaking comes packaged in, the impact of socio-political shifts on the kind of content being produced and demanded, and just how much control we have as an audience over the fate of the film and the filmmaker.
For both the uninitiated and fanatics, there are some interesting revelations like Shah Rukh Khan’s lifelong desire to become an action hero as opposed to a romantic one and the creative conflict between Aditya Chopra and his father Yash Chopra on the sets of “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge” — a project that, surprisingly, did not seem too promising to the latter. Mundhra penetrates deep into the family’s history and industry relationships evoking some really candid conversations; almost as if these celebs were eagerly waiting for their moment to speak. With one appraising interview after the other, it’s a panegyric that does border on being a tad tedious but there is enough depth and fodder in there to keep one hooked. Kudos to Mundhra for managing to achieve cohesion despite there being more than enough material to chew on. In the process of bringing this project to life, Mundhra also ends up achieving a number of milestones: one that the series features the last of actor Rishi Kapoor’s interviews and two, it brings Aditya Chopra, who, it appears, can talk a blue streak contrary to popular belief, to the front of the camera after almost two decades. The moment when he puts the nepotism debate to rest by referring to his brother’s catastrophic attempt at acting is quite the show-stealer.
At some point during the four-episode series, you might question if it’s fair to credit the Yash Raj family for being the only real changemakers of the Hindi film industry and for picking up the baton to get Hindi cinema the global recognition that it has. But then there is no denying the Chopra clan’s body of work, their ability to understand what pleases the crowd and their commitment towards growth and progress amidst changing times and technology — Yash Raj Studios is in fact the only privately held and one of the biggest, state-of-the-art film studios in India. Chopra’s career and legacy are in no way under-lit that Mundhra can claim to throw new light on with “The Romantics.” But what she really has on offer here are sheer nostalgia, some fascinating discoveries and an ode to a cinephile and his art with a bit of fan service.
In an interview with Brown Girl Magazine, Mundhra discusses why it was so important for Chopra to be the subject of her docu-series, her own learnings during the series’ research and creative process and her accomplishment of getting Aditya Chopra to talk, and that too, at length.