India’s shrewdest practitioner of film noir has added a touch of screwball comedy to his latest work this year. Sriram Raghavan’s “Andhadhun” is an exercise in tightly controlled chaos. The film, due out Oct. 5, centers on a seemingly innocuous lie – faking a disability – that degenerates spectacularly for a pianist, his girlfriend, a former actor, his wife and her lover, and a trio of organ grinders. Packed with twists and black comedy, Andhadhun features some of the year’s best performances from its cast, which includes Tabu, Ayushmann Khurrana, Anil Dhawan and Radhika Apte.
Raghavan has visited the uncontrollable consequences of greed and amorality in Ek Hasina Thi (2004), Johnny Gaddaar (2007) and Badlapur (2015). With Andhadhun, Raghavan ventures into territory that has been fruitfully exploited by the Coen brothers and Guy Ritchie, but the allusions to local pop culture, the street chatter and biting humor, and the breakneck pace of events as characters try to make the best of things for themselves are entirely Raghavan’s own.
In an interview, Raghavan and his editors and co-writers Pooja Ladha Surti and Arijit Biswas reviewed the most memorable movie experience of 2018. There are numerous spoilers for those who haven’t seen the film and hopefully nuggets of information for those who have.
A Blind Rabbit and a Metaphor.
The film opens with a sequence that only makes sense in the climax: a man points his gun at a blind rabbit in a cabbage patch. The rabbit runs for its life, as does the pianist Akash (Ayushmann Khurana) over the course of the next two hours.
The idea was to have the metaphor of a blind rabbit being hunted, because later we will meet a blind man who is being hunted. However, the rabbit was not in the script for quite a while.
Arijit had told me in another context about a hunter in British India in the early 20th century who once went hunting but could not kill any game. He saw a wild hare and went after it. It took him two hours to kill the hare, but then he saw that it was blind. He felt terrible. This guy had survived the jungle and this so-called great hunter had killed him.
We also had other requirements: How do you avoid the carnage that happens at the end of the movie? Akash is supposed to be innocent, and this rabbit fits: He is, in a way, the deus ex machina.