Andhadhun (transl. Blindly) is a 2018 Indian Hindi-language black comedy crime thriller film co-written and directed by Sriram Raghavan, produced by Matchbox Pictures, and distributed by Viacom18 Motion Pictures. The film stars Tabu, Ayushmann Khurrana, and Radhika Apte, and tells the story of a blind piano player who unwittingly becomes embroiled in the murder of a retired actor.
|Directed by||Sriram Raghavan|
|Written by||Sriram Raghavan|
Hemanth M. Rao
Pooja Ladha Surti
|Produced by||Sudhanshu Vats|
|Cinematography||K. U. Mohanan|
|Edited by||Pooja Ladha Surti|
Daniel B. George
Viacom 18 Motion Pictures
|Distributed by||Viacom 18 Motion Pictures|
|Box office||est. ₹456 crore|
The script of Andhadhun was written by Raghavan, Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti, Yogesh Chandekar and Hemanth M. Rao. The film was edited by Surti, and K. U. Mohanan was its director of photography. Amit Trivedi composed songs for the film and Jaideep Sahni wrote the lyrics. Raftaar and Girish Nakod co-wrote the title song as guest composers.
Rao suggested to Raghavan in 2013 that he watch L'Accordeur (The Piano Tuner), a 2010 French short film about a blind pianist, written and directed by Olivier Treiner, which received internationally more than 70 prizes in more than 100 short movie festivals, including the 2012 César prize for short movie in France. Raghavan liked the film and was inspired from it. Khurrana was cast in the lead role after he contacted Raghavan and expressed an interest in working with him. The film was shot in Pune in 44 days spread over more than a year; principal photography began in June 2017 and ended on 17 July 2018.
Andhadhun was released by Viacom18 Motion Pictures theatrically in India on 5 October 2018 to critical acclaim. Critics highlighted the writing, and Khurrana and Tabu's performances. It won four awards, including Best Director and Best Screenplay, at the Screen Awards ceremony and five Filmfare Awards, including Best Film (Critics) and Best Actor (Critics) for Khurrana. It also won three National Film Awards: Best Feature Film in Hindi, Best Actor for Khurrana, and Best Screenplay. The film has grossed over ₹456 crore (US$60 million) at the worldwide box office. The film was remade in Telugu as Maestro (2021) and in Malayalam as Bhramam (2021) while the Tamil remake Andhagan is under production.
Residing in Pune, Akash Saraf is an up-and-coming pianist who fakes being blind to improve his piano skills. While crossing the street, he is knocked over by Sophie. She takes care of Akash and soon they begin an intimate romantic relationship. Sophie is impressed by Akash's talent and gets him an engagement at her father's diner. At the diner, a retired actor, Pramod Sinha, notices Akash and invites him to perform for his wedding anniversary.
Akash arrives at the Sinhas' flat and Pramod's wife Simi opens the door. Simi, convinced that Akash is blind, lets him play the piano. Akash sees Pramod's dead body nearby but feigns ignorance and continues to play; he also sees Manohar, Simi's paramour, hiding in the bathroom. Simi and Manohar clean the body and stuff it into a suitcase while Akash plays.
Akash tries to report the murder to the police, but discovers that Manohar is a police inspector. Meanwhile, Simi overhears her elderly neighbour, Mrs. D'Sa, talking to a police officer about Pramod's murder. Simi later kills Mrs. D'Sa by pushing her off the ledge of their apartment. Akash sees the murder but is forced to continue feigning blindness. Later when Simi brings poisonous offerings for him after her husband's last rites and pulls out a gun, Akash admits to faking his blindness as an experiment to help his piano playing. He says he will leave for London and will keep Simi's secret, but she drugs him.
A neighbour's child, suspicious of Akash's blindness, records a video of Akash fully able to see and shows it to Sophie. As she arrives, Simi arranges things to look like she and Akash are having sex. Furious and heartbroken, Sophie leaves Akash. When he wakes up, he realizes he has been blinded from the drug Simi gave him. Manohar comes to Akash's home to kill him. Akash barely escapes, but he faints after hitting a telephone pole.
Akash wakes up in an illegal organ harvesting clinic. Dr. Swami and his assistants Murli and Sakhu decide to spare Akash when he reveals he has information that will make them millions. They kidnap Simi, stage a suicide scene, and blackmail Manohar. However, Murli and Sakhu double-cross Akash, tie him up with Simi, and plan to take the money themselves. Manohar shoots Murli but is trapped in an elevator and accidentally shoots and kills himself. The money is revealed to be counterfeit.
Simi helps Akash free himself and he removes Simi's blindfold. He tries to escape, while Simi frees herself and attacks him. Dr. Swami enters; after a brief fight, he and Akash knock Simi out, tie her up in the boot of a car, and drive away. Dr. Swami reveals that Simi has a rare blood type and that her organs would sell for millions; he also plans to use her corneas to restore Akash's sight.
When Simi awakes in the car boot and begins making noise, Dr. Swami stops the car to kill her, but she overpowers him and seizes the wheel. Akash, thinking Dr. Swami is still driving, tries to persuade him to release Simi. She drops Akash off and tries to run him over. A nearby hunter who is trying to kill a hare misses, causing the hare to jump and hit the windshield; Simi loses control of the car and is killed.
Two years later at a gig in Kraków, Sophie finds Akash, who still appears to be blind. After Akash tells her the whole story, Sophie tells Akash he should have accepted Dr. Swami's offer to restore his sight as well as part of the reward money of ten million dollars. After a while, when Akash is walking, he uses his cane to knock a can out of his path.
The cast is listed below:
- Tabu as Simi Sinha
- Ayushmann Khurrana as Akash Sarraf
- Radhika Apte as Sophie
- Anil Dhawan as Pramod Sinha
- Zakir Hussain as Dr. Krishna Swami
- Ashwini Kalsekar as Rasika Jawanda
- Manav Vij as Inspector Manohar Jawanda
- Chaya Kadam as Sakhu Kaur
- Pawan Singh as Murli Kanth
- Mohini Kewalramani as Mrs. D'SA
- Gopal K. Singh as Sub-Inspector Paresh Kadam
- Rashmi Agdekar as Daani Sinha
- Kabir Sajid Sheikh as Bandu
- Rudrangshu Chakrabarti as Murli
- Pratik Nandkumar More as Surya
- Mahesh Rale as P. Kamdar
- Abhishek Shukla as Animal Hunter
- Jaydutt Vyas as Alurkar
Director-writer Sriram Raghavan saw L'Accordeur (The Piano Tuner), a 2010 French short film about a blind pianist, in 2013 at the recommendation of his friend, filmmaker Hemanth M Rao. Raghavan said although his film is different, the French film was its "basic germ". He wanted Rao to write a script based on the short but Rao was directing a film of his own. Raghavan then worked on Badlapur (2015) and had the "gist of the story". After reading about Kaabil, which is also about a blind man, he was about to start writing but stopped, thinking having two films about blind people would be "crazy". Raghavan later resumed the script, taking a different approach.
The idea of a blind pianist performing while a body is being dumped and a crime scene cleaned up fascinated Raghavan, who had written a similar scene for his previous film, Agent Vinod (2012), in which a blind girl plays the piano while surrounded by mayhem. Raghavan wrote the script with Arijit Biswas, Yogesh Chandekar, Rao and Pooja Ladha Surti. He gave the story idea to Varun Dhawan while they were working on Badlapur but Dhawan became busy with other films and the script was left unfinished. Raghavan discussed the scenes with the writers, who reacted as viewers.
Raghavan and Biswas were unhappy while translating the dialogue from English to Hindi because they thought in English. Raghavan told Biswas to write the dramatic dialogue in Bengali, which was "at least the Indian idiom". Surti wrote another version of the dialogue because her Hindi was better than that of the others. Raghavan cited the 1996 film Fargo and the eponymous television series as an inspiration, calling them "realistic and yet ... bizarre". One of his friends was in a situation similar to one in the film; he then realised old Hindi films use "piano songs" and decided make the blind pianist the main character.
Casting and filmingEdit
Ayushmann Khurrana heard about the film from casting director Mukesh Chhabra and contacted Raghavan, expressing interest in working on it. Raghavan conducted screen tests of the scene in which the protagonist wakes up blind: "There were two pieces – when you are acting blind and when you are actually blind, and we tried both. I wanted to see what the difference in his body language would be." Khurrana, who played the piano in the film, met several blind students and observed "how [a blind pianist] plays, conducts and moves his hands". Khurrana studied piano for four hours daily under Akshay Verma, a pianist based in Los Angeles, and did not use a body double in the film. He called it the "most challenging role" of his career.
Raghavan told Khurrana not to watch films with a blind protagonist and took him to the National School of the Blind. He said, "Since no two persons are the same, I picked up the nuances, learnt how to hold the stick and climb the stairs". Khurrana made omelettes and walked on the street blindfolded. He was given a pair of special lenses that impaired his vision by around 80 percent. His body language changed because he could no longer see properly. After wearing the black glasses, his vision was affected by 90 percent and he shot the entire film like that. Raghavan called Radhika Apte, who agreed to play Khurrana's love interest. Several scenes were improvised. Tabu was Raghavan's first choice for Simi. He did not brief her about scenes and they "kept developing [the character] as it went". Anil Dhawan played a former actor, a version of himself.
Raghavan said he wanted to make a "fun sort of thriller" to follow Badlapur. According to him, Andhadhun is not a whodunit; " ... The audience knows all along what's happening and why. It's the characters who don't." The film was shot in Pune; filming took 44 days over more than a year because none of the actors were available for a long shooting schedule. Principal photography began in June 2017 and ended on 17 July 2018. Raghavan and the film's director of photography K. U. Mohanan decided to "restrict everything to Akash's point of view" so the audience could see what Akash sees. There were no close-ups in the piano-playing scene, which was extensively rehearsed with several assistants to fit its timing into the four-minute piano piece. It was not rehearsed with the actors; Raghavan told them to "just do the scene" and gave them a time frame; "We didn't want it to look practiced; we needed that uncertainty". The film's first shot was rehearsed with Khurrana for three months. Raghavan called Andhadhun "a fun film in the macabre sense of the word", with moments of "wickedness and brutality".
Raghavan wanted the film to have an open ending and considered several options. Both the Viacom 18 and Matchbox Pictures production teams were apprehensive about the audience acceptance of an open ending but Raghavan persuaded them. Its working title was Shoot the Piano Player, which was changed because the producers felt an English title would "alienate people". The title is a play on the word andhadhund, which means reckless or relentless, and "a play on blind tune and trance". The film was edited by Pooja Ladha Surti, and Snigdha Karmahe, Pankaj Pol and Anita Donald were its production designers.
The title track of the soundtrack of Andhadhun was composed by Raftaar and Girish Nakod, and Amit Trivedi composed the remainder of it. The album's lyrics were written by Jaideep Sahni, Raftaar and Nakod. It was released on 5 September 2018 on the Zee Music Company record label. Vocals were provided by Trivedi, Raftaar, Ayushmann Khurrana, Arijit Singh, Abhijeet Srivastava, Aakansha Sharma, Shadab Faridi and Altamash Faridi. The background score was composed by Daniel B. George. The album received a mainly positive response from critics.
Andhadhun was scheduled for release on 31 August 2018 but its release was postponed until 5 October; the producers announced the delay in a trailer. Raghavan originally wanted the film's trailer to only contain sounds because it is the story of a blind man but the studio was "shocked" at his suggestion. After several discussions, they agreed on a trailer. Raghavan "didn't want to give away too many things about the film" in the trailer and the studio eventually accepted his view. The trailer was released on 2 September 2018.
The film was released on 800 screens across India, and is available on Netflix. It was screened at the 2019 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles where Tabu was honoured. Andhadhun was released in China as Piano Player on 3 April 2019. On 28 August 2019, the film was released in South Korea in over 90 screens.
Andhadhun was critically acclaimed. Raja Sen called it a "rare treat" and a film that is "so compelling that it may universally be considered irresistible". Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV wrote, "Watch Andhadhun with your ears, eyes and minds open. You will come away with your senses heightened." Rajeev Masand called it a film with "many pleasures ... chief among them is the thrill of being constantly surprised". He praised Khurrana's and Tabu's performances, calling them "in solid form" and "towering". Renuka Vyavahare of The Times of India also gave the film a positive review, calling it an "engaging thriller that keeps you on your toes and leaves you guessing all the way". Sreehari Nair of Rediff.com wrote, "This must be the only blood thriller in the history of Indian movies that ends up giving you a high ... a pure high!" Ankur Pathak of HuffPost cited it as "the best film of 2018 so far" and "a film worth watching and then rewatching".
Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express called Andhadhun "racy, pacy and appropriately pulpy" but said it becomes a "tad heavy-handed and dull" after a while. Shibaji Roychoudhury of Times Now said the second half was predictable and "falls flat" but called the film "thrilling, full of compelling performances and exceptional sound design that will keep you at the edge of your seat". Sushant Mehta of India Today wrote, "Raghavan's ability to shock an entire cinema hall including the most immovable, emotionless fan coupled with his ability to make the audience laugh during these moments where your heart is in your mouth defines his unique brand of cinema".
Anupama Chopra wrote, "The surroundings – high-rises, leafy streets and old houses in Pune – seem perfectly normal but what's happening inside is deliciously twisted. There's murder, betrayal, sex and a mountain of lies. In short, you can't look away." Udita Jhunjhunwala of Mint praised Khurrana's acting, calling it a "taut performance that balances vulnerability with craftiness", and said Tabu "runs away with the show". Nandini Ramnath of Scroll.in wrote that the film has a "strong flavour of the Coen brothers at their peak, but also enough nods to Raghavan's longstanding interest in the dynamics of the perfect crime and the hustlers and flimflam artists who populate pulp detective stories". She said although the film's runtime was a stretch, it "slides into place as smoothly as one of Akash's piano pieces". Shaheen Irani of Deccan Chronicle wrote, "Sriram has done a fab job in keeping dark humour intact with several quirky and surprise elements that will make you cover your face too".
Shilajit Mitra of The New Indian Express said in a review that "Raghavan creates a world interchangeably familiar and pulpy" in which he "strings together ingenious set-pieces and populates them with wryly-written characters". Troy Ribeiro of Indo-Asian News Service called the film a "taut, skillful and surgically effective murder mystery" and said; "For most of its length, Andhadhun functions so efficiently that we put the cause and its effects on hold and go with the action". Manjusha Radhakrishnan of Gulf News described the film as an "unapologetic celebration of vitriol, darkness and mean-spiritedness". Namrata Joshi wrote, "While seemingly giving things away, Raghavan is actually always a step ahead of the viewers in the cat-and-mouse game".
Poulomi Das of Arre also gave Andhadhun a positive review, saying; "The film is all about clever writing, top-notch execution, and hard-hitting social commentary – but it is also a triumph of casting, and an ode to actors". Shilpa Jamkhandikar of Reuters said "Andhadhun ticks all the right boxes" that should be "savoured." Kumar Shyam of The National wrote, "Drawing the viewers into multiple situations of right and wrong, black and white and then shades of grey, the climax also ends on a similar note with a deliberate climax, typical Hitchcockian, between salvation and revelation". Stutee Ghosh of The Quint said, "Andhadhun deserves praise and full attention ... Make sure to not miss anything, not the opening scene nor the end credits". Anita Iyer of Khaleej Times called the film a "crisply-edited, fast-paced narrative that keeps you on the edge of the seat throughout". J. Hurtado of Screen Anarchy said; "Andhadhun shows that this veteran director knows how to make this kind of twisty genre gem better than almost anyone in India". He included it in his list of 14 Favorite Indian Films of 2018.
Made on a budget of ₹32 crore (US$4.2 million), Andhadhun earned ₹2.5 crore (US$330,000) on its first day of release. The film's box office take increased with positive word of mouth and it grossed ₹5.1 crore (US$670,000) on its second day. It earned ₹15 crore (US$2.0 million) in its first weekend and grossed ₹41.1 crore (US$5.4 million) in ten days. The film became profitable before its theatrical release through the sale of its satellite television rights, which were sold to Colors. At the end of its six-week theatrical run, Andhadhun had earned ₹101 crore (US$13 million) at the box office, mainly from Mumbai. The film also did well internationally, earning ₹10.4 crore (US$1.4 million).
Prior to its release in China, Andhadhun had grossed ₹106 crore (US$14 million) worldwide, including ₹95.63 crore (US$13 million) in India and ₹10.37 crore (US$1.4 million) overseas. In China, the film surpassed its Indian lifetime collection within six days. Andhadhun has grossed ₹335 crore (US$44 million) in China, for a worldwide total of ₹456.89 crore (equivalent to ₹482 crore or US$63 million in 2020).
|Date of Ceremony||Award||Category||Recipient(s) and nominee(s)||Result||Ref.|
|16 December 2018||Screen Awards||Best Director||Sriram Raghavan||Won|||
|Best Screenplay||Arijit Biswas, Sriram Raghavan, Pooja Ladha Surti||Won|
|Best Editing||Pooja Ladha Surti||Won|
|Best Sound Design||Madhu Apsara||Won|
|16 February 2019||Asiavision Awards||Best Actor (Critics)||Ayushmann Khurrana (also for Badhaai Ho)||Won|||
|19 March 2019||Zee Cine Awards||Best Actor (Viewer's Choice)||Ayushmann Khurrana||Won|||
|Best Actress in a Negative Role||Tabu||Won|
|Best Editing||Pooja Ladha Surti||Won|
|Best Film Writing||Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti, Sriram Raghavan, Yogesh Chandekar, Hemanth M. Rao||Won|
|Best Background Score||Daniel B. George||Won|
|23 March 2019||Filmfare Awards||Best Film||Viacom18 Motion Pictures, Kewal Garg, Sanjay Routary and Sriram Raghavan||Nominated|||
|Best Film (Critics)||Sriram Raghavan||Won|
|Best Actor||Ayushmann Khurrana||Nominated|
|Best Actor (Critics)||Won|
|Best Actress (Critics)||Nominated|
|Best Screenplay||Sriram Raghavan, Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti, Yogesh Chandekar, Hemanth M. Rao||Won|
|Best Editing||Pooja Ladha Surti||Won|
|Best Sound Design||Madhu Apsara||Nominated|
|Best Background Score||Daniel B. George||Won|
|9 August 2019||National Film Awards||Best Hindi Film||Andhadhun||Won|||
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Won|
|Best Actor||Ayushmann Khurrana||Won|
|18 September 2019||International Indian Film Academy Awards||Best Film||Viacom18 Motion Pictures||Nominated|||
|Best Director||Sriram Raghavan||Won|
|Best Actor||Ayushmann Khurrana||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Radhika Apte||Nominated|
|Best Music Director||Amit Trivedi||Nominated|
|Best Male Playback Singer||Amit Trivedi (For "Naina Da Kya Kasoor")||Nominated|
|Best Lyricist||Jaideep Sahni (For "Naina Da Kya Kasoor")||Nominated|
|Best Story||Sriram Raghavan, Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti, Yogesh Chandekar & Hemanth M. Rao||Won|
|Best Editing||Pooja Ladha Surti||Won|
|Best Background Score||Daniel B. George||Won|
|Best Sound Mixing||Ajay Kumar PB||Won|
|22 November 2019||Bandung Film Festival||Honorable Imported Films||Andhadhun||Won|||
|4 December 2019||AACTA Awards||Best Asian Film||Sriram Raghavan, Sanjay Rautray, Keval Garg||Nominated|
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