Andhadhun Review (SPOILERS): A Beautiful Twist at the Interval

I already put up my No Spoilers review, and this film is such a fun ride, I encourage you to read that one and leave this one until after you have watched it.  Unless you can’t handle violence, can’t handle thrillers, or for some other reason will never be able to watch this movie.

Whole Plot in Two Paragraphs:

Ayushmann is a blind pianist, living in an NGO in Pune and practicing for a big competition and trying to raise money to go to it.  Radhike Apte bumps into him on the street, feels bad and buys him coffee, then hires him to play at her father’s popular Pune bar.  He is a big hit, and he and Radhike slowly get closer and start to fall in love.  But, the audience learns ten minutes into the movie, he isn’t actual blind.  He removes the fake contacts he has been using in order to see Radhike for real and never puts them back in.  Meanwhile, Tabu is married to Anil Dhawan, an much older former film star.  She seems possibly bored with him, but it is hard to read her.  Anil hires Ayushmann to come play piano for them, Ayushmann goes to their house and Tabu doesn’t want to let him in, but finally does when she notices the lady across the hall watching.  Ayushmann sees Anil’s dead body on the floor but doesn’t react.  And he still doesn’t react when he watches Tabu clean up and her boyfriend Manav Vij stuff the body in a suitcase and take it out.  He leaves safely, and immediately goes to the police, where he learns that Manav is a police inspector.  He has no other choice but to commit to his fake blindness even though he is torn by guilt.  The neighbor tells the police she remembers seeing another man go into the apartment, and Tabu kills her by throwing her off a balcony, coincidentally just as Ayushmann arrives for a piano lesson for her daughter.  Ayushmann decides to tell Radhike everything, but while he is waiting for her, Tabu comes to his house and tries to catch him in a lie, seemingly fails, and then he realizes she has poisoned him and he collapses on the floor seemingly dead. INTERVAL

Post interval, Radhike has come to the house.  And Tabu answers the door wrapped in a blanket to show her passed out Ayushmann laying on the bed naked and confesses that she turned to Ayushmann for comfort in her grief.  Radhike is furious, especially because the little boy who lives in the building just showed her proof that Ayushmann isn’t blind.  Ironically, Ayushmann wakes up to discover he IS blind.  Ayushmann escapes only to land with a team of organ harvesters.  He buys them off by promising even more money for blackmailing Tabu and Manav.  They kidnap Tabu and trick her into confessing while they record it, and then they call Manav and arrange the money exchange.  Tabu is left tied up in the organ clinic, but Ayushmann is surprised and tied up by his conspirators too.  Tabu convinces him to work with her so they can both escape.  But it is a trick, she tries to kill him just as the doctor is arriving.  Ayushmann and the doctor manage to pacify her and throw her in the back of his car.  And then the doctor reveals that Tabu is a perfect match for a rare blood type, he can sell her liver for millions to a Sheikh who’s young daughter is dying.  He can harvest her corneas at the same time and restore Ayushmann’s sight.  And cut Ayushmann in for some of the money.  Ayushmann has qualms, says this is wrong.  And then we jump forward two years.  Radhike is traveling in Europe and sees a sign for Ayushmann singing in a bar.  He sings a song about her, and she goes up to him afterwards.  He offers to take her out for coffee and tell her the whole story.  And then he tells her the end, that the doctor stopped the car to check the trunk, Tabu killed him and came around to the driver’s seat herself without Ayushmann realizing.  He continued his argument to save her life, and so she let him go.  And then in a random coincidence, a stray bullet from a farmer trying to shoot a rabbit hit the car and killed Tabu.  Radhike is impressed with the whole story and indicates she might be willing to see Ayushmann again.  And then he strolls away, casually kicking an empty can out of the way with his cane, leaving open the question of whether he is blind or not and whether the ending he told Radhike is true, or did he take Tabu’s corneas and the money.

Image result for andhadhun poster


There is a lot that happens!  Far more than I could include in that summary, at least not all the details of it.  But none of it, ultimately, means much.  There is no justice, no truth, no love or beauty in this world to be saved.  Ayushmann is not a very heroic hero.  And Tabu is not a very villainous villain.  Even Radhike isn’t a completely innocent innocent.  The film looks at this characters from a slight distance and invites us to see them the same way, from a slight and slightly cynical distance.  For instance, there is a moment during their courtship when Radhike and Ayushmann are caught in the rain and she asks to borrow a shirt to change into.  Thinking he is blind, she begins to change in front of him and he gets a glimpse of her undressed.  This is almost the exact same scene as in Baadshah, and I am sure many other movies, where the hero pretends to be blind and catches a forbidden look.  What is different is that a moment later the film flips it, Radhike sneaks up on Ayushmann changing in his bedroom, clearly intentionally in order to get a glimpse of him without him being aware she is there.  The message is clear, don’t assume anyone is innocent, and don’t assume an advantage cannot be turned into a disadvantage a moment later.

This is also a very cleverly built film for the way it doesn’t directly tell us who is good or bad and leaves it to us to fill in the clues.  And fill in when they are lying.  In the same conversation where Tabu declares that her husband shot himself by accident, Ayushmann declares that he was pretending to be blind as an artistic experiment.  Only, that doesn’t fit with our knowledge that Ayushmann was getting his apartment for 500 rupees a month thanks to his “blindness”, or that Tabu worked awfully hard to cover up her husband’s death.  A close watcher of the film learns to put together their own clues and see through the characters’ lies.

The great genius of it though is in the interval flip, one of the all time greatest uses of the two part structure of Indian film.  In the first half, the twists come because Ayushmann is a man who can see that everyone thinks is blind.  In the second half, the twists come because Ayushmann is now blind in reality.  And at the end, we aren’t sure if it is one or the other.

It’s also a great way for Sriram to have the best of both worlds.  He came up with this brilliant concept of a man pretending to be blind witnessing a murder and now having to absolutely convince the murderers that he is blind.  And then he gave it a slow build, seeing that Ayushmann practiced his blindness with fake opaque contact lenses for months before love and temptation made him remove them, seeing all the little advantages he enjoys and tricks he plays, before finally the greatest challenge to his poker face, wandering into this murder scene.  And then all the variations of this trap, Ayushmann can’t tell the police the truth because they think he is blind, and he can’t let the murderers think he ISN’T blind.  He is torn by fear and guilt, and the mindgames between him and Tabu escalate as she tries to find evidence that he isn’t blind after all.

But then there is the challenge of actual blindness.  Being trapped in a room just because you can’t see well enough to find the door.  Unable to see that your hostage is escaping.  Unable to see that the wrong person got in the car with you.  This structure lets Sriram have both at once, with the added complication that a few people think Ayushmann is still faking even when it is now true.

(Sriram and Ayushmann also did some real research for this, visiting a home for the blind.  Ayushmann does a wonderful job, especially contrasting the sighted man wearing opaque contacts versus the sighted man pretending not to see, versus the man who is actually dealing with the shock of blindness)

The interval flip and all of Sriram’s little games are clever, but they only work because of the cast.  Ayushmann plays his usual friendly every man type, but with a bit of a darker edge, someone who is just pretending to be an every man in order to achieve his own ends.  Radhike plays something completely new for her, bubbly and kind of charming and innocent in her own way.  Intelligent, modern, all of that like usual.  But also a little smile-y and silly when around the boy she has a crush on.  The rest of the cast is excellent as well, everyone from Manav Vij’s nagging wife to Tabu’s dead husband.  But it is Tabu that really stands out.

At first, she appears to be just the some what bored aging actress wife of an even more aging star.  And then when the murder happens, we see her as an anxious woman who is thinking fast under pressure.  And clearly in charge of her muscle-bound boyfriend, there is a wonderful moment when she signals that she wants the watch from the body, and he unzips the suitcase just enough to pull out the hand, she takes the watch and then struggles for the ring, he reaches out and snaps the finger out of rigor in order to get the ring and then hands it to her like a little love offering, and she practically rolls her eyes at him.  Even in this moment of high drama, she has the time to be frustrated with the slowness of those around her.

As the film goes on, we realize that we should never think we can predict Tabu, or understand her.  She is driven by fear and selfishness and her own crazy impulses, there is no planning and that is what makes her dangerous.  And that is what makes Ayushmann able to defeat her, because he falls into that himself, his constant need to improvise drives him to the same unpredictable place she is in, she never would have expected him to escape Manav, be captured by another gang, and then turn them into allies.  In the same way, he didn’t expect that she would trick him into removing her blindfold just so she could cut herself free and try to kill him.

That’s what keeps us watching, the cat and mouse game between the two, what begins as a bad woman versus a classic Hitchockian “man who knew too much” becomes two amoral slightly insane individuals locked in a crazy duet.

That’s what makes the suggestion that Ayushmann helped kill Tabu after all and took her corneas so as to restore his sight so tempting.  Because it makes it literal that what we have been seeing all along, Ayushmann has started to see the world the way Tabu does, created for him and all the people in it merely playthings.

23 thoughts on “Andhadhun Review (SPOILERS): A Beautiful Twist at the Interval

  1. The film was something else.
    How sriram connected the random starting bit of a partial blind rabbit escaping a hunter as a metaphor for ayuahman a s tabu as the hunter/hunted was simply awesome.
    Taking a yesteryear star anil dhawan as a caricature of his own self and referencing his 70s film ,wow.

    The following scenes stand out for me :
    Tabu/manav vij cleaning evidence of crime when he is poker faced playing piano.
    The neighbour explaining the sub inspector to do this duty casual during the funeral.
    The sho hiding above the washing machine when his wife knows his secret.
    Ayushman when he sees tabu wearing a scary mask and his control over reflexes.
    That police station scene where he imagines to confessing and exposing them.

    And the references to Tabu’s older Shakespearean characters ,lady Macbeth ,hamlet in the movies too meta.

    What a movie and climax was out of the world,best movie of the year for sure

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comment is making me think how, in some ways, this film is almost like a series of connected short films. Those scenes you mention would work just as well if you didn’t know anything else about the movie, just on their own they are perfect little gems.


  2. Maybe it’s just me, but after this movie, I really really REALLY want to watch Ayushmann and Tabu in a love story. They have a very interesting chemistry and they work really well off of each other.


    • I would love that! I didn’t get romantic tension in this film, but I did get kind of a challenge from this film. I would love to see a rom-com between competitors, something like she is his boss and he stabs her in the back to get a promotion, she is hired by a rival firm and stabs him in the back, and on and on. And then they fall in love along the way but can’t be sure if even the love is true.

      On Mon, Oct 8, 2018 at 4:53 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  3. Well, my third movie in theater in 10 days. Have never visited the theatres this frequently even when there were no kids to put to bed. But these days there is atleast one good Indian movie(I mean across all languages)coming out every week.
    This was fun. I absolutely loved the first half, the second half kinda dragged a little. The writing lost a little steam & the ideas weren’t as clever as the first half. I can’t pinpoint any specific scenes or instances from second half that really stood out. I also didn’t like the way a random accident ended such a good buildup. If the audience hadn’t been teased with the rabbit scene in the beginning, it would have fell completely flat. Im trying to think of there was any other way the movie could have ended. Maybe Tabu’s lover’s wife in a fit of rage(cos her hubby hadn’t returned still)confronts her & kills her as she is about to kill Ayushman?
    Loved all the performances. Great to see Tabu in such a fun role. Apart from being delicious little gems, this kind of small budget, well written movies give great scope for senior actors who are relegated to supporting roles in star movies. She looked stunning as the glamorous seductress. Far cry from the Sita like bhaabhi in Hum Saar Saat Hain. Ayushman is wonderful too. Such unaffected acting that is so rare in Bollywood. Definitely an underrated actor.
    Great to know that directors like Sriram Raghavan still exist in Bollywood but my favourite movie of his is still Johnny Gaddar.


    • Agree about first half/second half. I am sure he came up with the murder clean up scene first and built the rest of the film around it, putting that in the first half really made it better constructed. The thing that sticks out to me from the second half is the moment Tabu walks into the apartment to find Ayushmann perfectly normal teaching piano, and the moment they are trapped in the store room together. Oh, and the cop’s wife holding him hostage. But otherwise, not much.

      Maybe the rabbit scene was supposed to be almost unbelievably random? Since we aren’t sure if Ayushmann is making it up or not.

      You are right about Tabu, in a “regular” movie she would be stuck playing the mother or sister or something. But this movie isn’t following the usual young romance, or young hero, template so it has space for different kinds of people in its world.


  4. Very good review and I must say the film is so cleverly written, it’s open to so many interpretations. But Ayushmaan and Tabu stand out in their performances. Especially Tabu. That was an immensely difficult character.


  5. I looked up the film name with Google Translate last night after seeing this amazing movie.
    Andha dhun means blind tune, but Andhadhun as one word means indiscriminately or precipitately.
    What a beautiful double meaning. So appropriate. Absolutely all the decisions made by every last person were precipitate, contingent on time, place and circumstances.

    By the way, my husband and I both read the last scene as indicating that he is definitely not blind. He does not hit the can with his cane as he is swinging it from side to side. He makes an extra short pass with the can to “kick” it aside. Which has all kinds of implications for his not being the nice guy he is coming off as, again, with Radhike. Being just the same deceptive person we saw at the start and even worse, having grown into a person capable of harvesting Tabu for body parts.


    • Now that I think about it, the whole story is what he is telling Radhike, so if he is lying about one thing, he could be lying about all of it.

      On Mon, Oct 29, 2018 at 3:16 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  6. Andhadhun is on Netflix from today, and as soon I heard about it I watched it. OMG this movie is such a rollercoster! I’m exhausted now. It was too much.


  7. I watched the film just now and appreciated how well done it was but I didn’t enjoy it. It’s too similar to the cynical films and television shows that Hollywood has been cranking out for the past 20 years. Amoral protagonists behaving in completely self serving ways and yet you’re supposed to root for them on some level. I’m sick to death of these kinds of stories and I really hope this isn’t kicking off a trend in Bollywood.


    • This particular director kind of specializes in this sort of film. His first movie ended up bringing the hero to ironic justice (killed because of a misunderstanding, but for something that ultimately was his fault). His second movie questioned who is good and who is bad and if the villain can become a hero and vice versa. And then there is this movie. So in terms of crime being punished and living in a just world and so on, it’s just this one movie that rejects it.

      There is a minor tradition of these sort of twisty plots in Hindi film, but they are usually moral at the very end. The villain is captured, or the hero is revealed to really be a spy just pretending to be bad or (in one of the most ridiculous examples) it turns out the heroine isn’t secretly evil, it was a completely different person wearing a mask of the heroine’s face for the whole last half of the film. There’s another one where the heroine has a secret twin for similar reasons, but I like the “no no, it was a MASK!” explanation better.

      On Sun, Dec 30, 2018 at 8:52 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • The thing is justice doesn’t necessarily have to be served in a film for me to appreciate it but there should be some kind of moral universe in which the film operates even if all the characters fail to abide by it. I don’t know if that makes any sense but for example in Chinatown the film is about the impotence and futility of a good man trying to stop a great evil. But even though the protagonist fails in the end he is clearly not operating on the same moral plane as the evil rich man. Do you know what I mean? That has a very different feel to it than a film where everyone is just greater or lesser degrees of terrible.


        • Oh yeah. And it’s a basic ingredient of Hindi film, the moral universe and the perfect hero. If you want a really interesting comparison for moral and immoral, you should check out the original and then the remake of Don.

          On Sun, Dec 30, 2018 at 11:37 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



        • I’m so glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t enjoyed Andhadhun. Very good movie, I’m happy such film was made but I watched it once and don’t want to go back. Too many twists, strange situations etc and at the end of the day I like to think I won’t be cut into pieces if I fall on the street.


  8. I saw it on Netflix and absolutely loved it! The comment about how “life depends on the liver” and the double meaning also supports the idea that the main character did sell her liver and get a cornea transplant: otherwise how could he have fulfilled his dream of living as an artist in Europe? His European life may well have depended on the liver. Literally.


  9. I’d been saving this one to watch with people and I finally convinced my husband and a friend to watch it with me. They’re both Spanish and they said it reminded them of Almodovar, which yes, the tone and the plot twistiness has a lot in common with something like Volver. (There’s another director, Alex de la Iglesia, who also does a kind of dark comedy that I was thinking of at certain moments like the scenes between Tabu and Ayushmann.) They definitely enjoyed the ride, though it lost them a bit with the turn to organ harvesting, that was maybe one twist too many. They liked Tabu and Radhike but not so much Ayushmann.

    I liked all of them and everyone else too. The performances were great all around, each in his or her part. I can see why everyone was talking about Tabu after this, what a role.

    My husband was totally decided that the ending was Ayushmann lying to Radhike, and that everything from the moment the car stops to the end is made up. He’s on the side of the commenters who think Ayushmann went along with killing her and taking her corneas and the money. The friend wasn’t so sure, he didn’t even totally believe Ayushmann could see at the end, thought it was left open. Interesting, that they came down so far apart.

    I found this a lot of fun to watch. I loved the music maybe more than the movie, but I really liked the movie. I didn’t think about it until I read your review, but it’s true that Ayushmann’s three flavors of blindness are pretty impressive. Then, as Akshat was saying above, there are some fantastic and memorable scenes. That moment when he’s first playing the piano for Tabu and the camera angle changes to show the body on the floor, and you realize you’re watching a different movie than you thought you were. The scene between Tabu and Radikhe at the apartment, and then when Ayushmann wakes up blind. The trio of the driver, the doctor, and the ticket seller, especially the moment when Ayushmann realizes the driver is not on his side. The scene between the policeman and his wife. And the end! The car crash/CGI hare end and the cane swiping the can end. Quality film making.

    I ended up watching the last half hour twice because the friend fell asleep so we re-watched the next night. The first time I took it literally and didn’t understand how people could think Tabu was harvested when she burned up. The second time, I saw how deliberate that pause in the story was and the return to Krakow before they give you the return of Tabu and the shot and the hare. I don’t know! I don’t feel the need to argue for one resolution or the other, I’m kind of savoring how they left it open to interpretation. Skillfully done.


    • I am so glad you liked this movie! And that you reminded me of it, this might be the perfect film to suggest to watch with my friend and her husband. My friend and I would be happy watching dumb 90s romances all the time, but those aren’t exactly husband-friendly.

      Really interesting the multiple interpretations of the ending! I think this is a movie that was made so that there isn’t necessarily a “right” interpretation of the ending. The director could have tipped his hand a lot more if he had wanted to, and he didn’t, he left it very open. Even choosing the knocking aside the can as the indication that Ayushmann isn’t blind, it’s the kind of thing an experienced blind person might be able to do, or it is something he can do because he can see. It’s not like he threw a ball and hit a cat or something, you know?

      On Wed, Mar 20, 2019 at 11:00 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  10. Ayushmann Khurrana deserves all the praises that is coming his way for the movie. So talented and such a versatile actor he is, who, since the beginning of his career, has been choosing such varied roles. And he is getting better with each movie!


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