Andhadhi: An unsatisfactory thriller – The Hindu
With first-time filmmakers, you sometimes feel like you have to be an indulgent parent, not expecting miracles, just appreciating the effort. it takes a lot to make a movie, and you mean, hmmm, not bad. Now let’s see what you can actually do. but then, you remember movies like burma and kirumi, which were made by rookies but didn’t seem like apprentice work at all. and you feel less charitable. if they can do it…
if ramesh venkatraman’s andhadhi had been posted on youtube, in other words, you might not end up evaluating it. but seen on screen, the flaws are magnified. You are no longer a parent, you are a school teacher with a red pencil. You keep shaking your head at what could have been. could. that’s a word that comes up often with these movies. along with maybe, maybe, if only…
andhadhi is about a policeman (guna, played by arjun vijayaraghavan) who spends the first half of the movie becoming that policeman. he fails the ips exam, at least twice. he takes a job where he will be like a million other people, slaving away at a desk. but something tells him that he is destined to be a policeman. we never learn what that something is.
guna says he wants to do good, but that’s like someone becoming a farmer because he likes to eat. it’s too generic a reason to keep supporting him for so long, especially when it seems like he’d be a better fit behind that desk. he belongs to the upper rungs of the middle class, and young people from this background do not usually dream of chasing armed criminals through dirty streets. someone should have asked the question “what is my motivation?”.
but at least this background is outlined with a bit of conviction. there is no shy fluff to fall in love with. guna is going to marry anjana (anjena kirti) — everyone approves. Anjana is someone we don’t usually see in movies. she says that she has a job, she will take care of the house until guna realizes her ambition. even on the personal front, the film is a bit different. anjana and guna get married and later that night they share a moment on the terrace, but there is no wink on the wedding night.
There is a certain sensitivity here, there is no complacency, unless you count a badly organized duet. and then guna becomes a policeman and sets off. the plot involves a kidnapped child, a greasy politician, a friend who may harbor a secret or two, a businessman with plans to green chennai with solar power and three hundred million dollars of cold cash – it’s kind of like yuddham sei, with many confusing threads that slowly come together and make sense.
what we get is yuddham sei as envisioned by a megaseries creator. not much happens for a long time, and when things do happen, they’re always a little off. the director is not in a hurry, he wants to create atmosphere, but the pauses just stop things. you practically feel ad breaks coming up. this is deadly for a thriller. after a chase, guna thinks he has lost his prey, but when he turns around, the man is right there, staring him in the face. a better filmmaker would have made us feel the shock of guna.
and the actors don’t help. most of them are new and have the strangely frozen look we get when we sit down for passport photos, not knowing when the photographer will take the picture. we feel in them the disconnection that we sometimes see in actors appearing in English plays in the city: they seem to belong somewhere else. I know it all comes down to budget, but…maybe…maybe…if only…
a version of this review can be read at baradwajrangan.wordpress.com