“Andhadhi”… An unsatisfactory thriller

Posted on October 10, 2015


Spoilers ahead…

With first-time filmmakers, you feel, sometimes, that you should be an indulgent parent, not expecting miracles, just appreciating the effort. It takes so much to make a movie, and you want to say, Hmmm, not bad. Now let’s see what you can really do. But then, you remember films like Burma and Kirumi, which were made by first-timers but which did not seem like apprentice work at all. And you feel less charitable. If they can do it… Had Ramesh Venkatraman’s Andhadhi been released on YouTube, in other words, you may not end up evaluating it. But seen on screen, the flaws are magnified. You’re no longer a parent – you’re a schoolteacher 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 films. Along with maybe, perhaps, if only

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Andhadhi is about a cop (Guna, played by Arjun Vijayaraghavan) who spends the film’s first half becoming that cop. He flunks the IPS exam, at least twice. He takes up a job where he’ll be like a million others, slaving away at a desk. But something tells him he’s meant to be a cop. 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 rooting for him for such a long time – especially when he looks like he might be a better fit behind that desk. He’s from the higher rungs of the middle class, and young men from this background don’t usually dream of chasing gun-toting criminals through grimy streets. Someone should have asked the What is my motivation? question.

But at least this background is delineated with a fair bit of conviction. There’s no coy falling-in-love fluff. Guna is going to marry Anjana (Anjena Kirti) – everyone approves. Anjana is someone we don’t usually see in the movies. She says she has a job, she’ll take care of the household till Guna realises his ambition. Even on the personal front, the film is a little different. Anjana and Guna get married, and later that evening, they share a moment on the terrace – but there’s no wink at the wedding night. There’s a certain sensibility here, there’s no pandering – unless you count a badly staged duet. And then, Guna becomes a cop and he’s off and running. The plot has to do with a kidnapped child, a greasy politician, a friend who may harbour a secret or two, a businessman with plans of greening Chennai with solar power, and three-hundred crores of cold cash – it’s something like Yuddham Sei, with many confusing threads slowly coming together and making slap-on-the-forehead sense.

What we get is Yuddham Sei as imagined by a maker of mega-serials. Not much happens over a lot of time, and when things do happen, they’re always a beat or two off. The director is in no hurry, he wants to create mood – but the pauses just bring things to a halt. You practically feel the ad breaks coming. This is deadly for a thriller. After a chase, Guna thinks he’s lost his quarry, but when he turns, the man is right there, staring him in the face. A better filmmaker would have made us feel Guna’s shock. And the actors don’t help. Most of them are new, and they have the oddly frozen look we have while sitting for passport photographs, not knowing when the photographer is going to take the picture. We sense in them the disconnect we see, sometimes, in the actors who feature in English plays in the city – they look like they belong elsewhere. I know it all boils down to the budget, but… Maybe… Perhaps… If only…


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Posted in: Cinema: Tamil