Gustakhi Maaf

A blind monkey at the center

An edifice can only be as efficient as its base. There is no point admiring a fancy well made facade, if it's foundation itself is shaky. This is precisely what is felt about the movie, 'Andhadhun'.

The protagonist who is a musician sets up an experiment on himself by acting blind - so that it enables him to compose his tunes well. This seems to be the starting point of the movie - an aspect that is half halfheartedly told in a voice-over right at the beginning; and then later somewhere in the middle, when the protagonist desperately explains about this dialogues in a few dialogues, as his game is exposed. Not giving enough screen time to set up the intensity of the 'why' of this experiment that needs him to go blind, is one reason why the pedestal of this movie seems unsteady. Of course, we know that he wants to create a musical piece for a competition that could let him into the greener pastures of a foreign land, but that just becomes a super convenient device - and there are many such manufactured elements all through the movie - to carry forward the plot and its high explosive stunning points. 

Everything in the first few minutes builds towards a key sequence in the movie - where the play acting blind protagonist comes to a house where he unwittingly witnesses the disposal of a dead body. Without this sequence, the movie would not have moved forward in the manner it did. Agreed that the old lady next door forces the 'dead body disposing' lady to let in the protagonist into her house. But why would that lady force herself into a position where she has to ask the musician to play the piano; with a dead body begging to be disposed of in her closet? The first instinct an ordinary person would have is to drift away from that position as quickly as possible, not the least to take the risk and ask the musician to play the piano while you are disposing of the body. It makes logical sense to get rid of the body while there is no one around.  But not in this movie.

Also, why would anyone hang on in a place a where a dead body has been seen, acting blind and playing melodious tunes on a piano acting as if nothing has happened, playing along with the 'dead body disposing' lady? The plausibility of such an act seems extremely slim, especially when the intensity of the blind experiment that the protagonist has been indulging in, has not been established in the first place. The primary instinct of any ordinary person in such a situation would be to escape from that place as early as possible. If it is otherwise, there better be a solid established motivation. But here, it is never know as to why is the protagonist obliged to continue playing the blind act, despite the horror of seeing the dead body and a gun; and despite being in close proximity to the possible murderers. Is it so because if he is not in the room when the body is being conveniently disposed off in the manner it has been done, the plot cannot move forward in the way it did? The USP the movie is banking on seems to be this - the dead body has to be disposed before the man who is play acting blind and the man has to see it being disposed off, but the 'dead body disposing' couple will have to think that he has not. Believability be damned!

Normally, the first plot point in a movie occurs as a coincidence, comedy or otherwise. The credibility of this first chance is enhanced if it is made plausible. Each movie would have its own methods to increase the degree of believability of it's chances, including chances that occur because of a personality trait of the character. Whatever be the methods, without enough screen time provided in the body of the movie, these chances would remain unconvincing. And if the chance element is the first one of the movie, upon which everything else is built upon, the rest of the coincidences - if any - too are likely to fall flat.  

There are lots of such 'convenient' elements further down the movie; in screenplay parlance it is called 'convenient plotting'. The wife's lover happens to be police inspector to whom the protagonist has to go to - when he thinks of reporting the dead body to the police, which ultimately he does not, realizing that the inspector is the very man who is involved in the act. The teenage daughter of the dead man has to have an interest in music - again fleetingly mentioned through a piece of dialogue - for the hero to come back to the dead man's house yet again, to 'witness' the 'body disposing' wife throw the old neighbor out of the building. The protagonist has to faint in the night on the road and has to be picked by the seemingly helpful auto rickshaw couple, so that they bring him to the doctor involved in an illegal kidney racket. The seemingly friendly auto rickshaw couple who force themselves fully in the screenplay half way down the movie, have to be fleetingly and conveniently be seen helping the blind man in the beginning. There has to be a Sheikh from the middle east whose daughter needs a kidney transplant and whose blood group conveniently has to match with that of the 'dead body disposing' lady murderer, so that they encounter the rabbit - which in turn enables the protagonist to successfully migrate abroad, where years later, conveniently the lady love meets him, so that she can is narrated a cock and bull story by him on how he had survived the car accident with the rabbit. These are just a few of the elements cataloged which probably exists in the movie only because the plot has to move forward in the manner it did, after the first coincidence that looked weak. 

If fact, hitting the high points in the plot to numb the audience into awe and submission seems to be the primary object of this movie. Why should the protagonist, who is probably still acting blind going by the way he hits the empty can in the last shot of the movie, tell a cock and bull story, on how he has survived the rabbit, to his ex-girlfriend in a foreign land whom he has met by chance merely or for the sake of the plot? For what purpose? With all that trauma that he has undergone before arrival of the rabbit on the highway and probably even after that, why would he still want to carry on with the blind experiment, especially when he has achieved the standard of success that he has set for himself?

So, it all comes back to the basic question posed in the beginning. Why is the protagonist hell bent on carrying on with his blind act, despite all odds? What exactly is his motivation - apart from the fact we know through a random voice-over in the beginning and a few dialogues in the middle - that it helps him compose music well? Has any substantial screen time been given to this aspect so that it makes the rest of the plot believable? If it is not, then why is it so? Is it because the experiment in itself is not the intention of the movie? So, what then is it's intention?

Our position by the end of the movie is like that of the ex-girlfriend of the protagonist. The dumb girl has become submissively numb after hearing her friend's cock and bull story. Like her, we too do not know the 'why' of the plot or of the blind experiment and the reasons for it's intensity. Like her, we too have been enamored by the high bang points and the surprise twists that occur at rapid successions all through the plot; those which make us forget that there is no such 'why' to this movie. Are the plot twists that captivate and enamor the audience in themselves what the movie is all about?

Film Industry, gustakhi maaf !




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