Posts Tagged ‘Sriram Raghavan’

(WARNING: Watch the movie first. May spoil it for you if you don’t.)

It feels a little strange to call a film titled ‘Andhadhun’ pointedly self-aware. But then if a Sriram Raghavan film won’t kill and resurrect irony a thousand times, then what will?

Just when the Nanas, Bahls and Kavanaughs of the world had you ready to throw yourself in the nearest gutter and die, there comes something so innocuous – a thriller film that ends up giving you hope about life. There is still some goodness left in the world and it’s all stuffed inside Sriram Raghavan’s film.

Wait, hope did you say? In a film full of darkness, little innocence and no redemption? What hope did I find in this universe of dystopia that is so dystopic it doesn’t even take its own dangers seriously? Enough so that I don’t get pimples due to all the invisible tension, you know!

Andhadhun is good for health
It is like anaar juice. You know, rich and full of texture and body wala juice that is actually just clear liquid. You drink and feel you are in heaven but the minute its over it is over. But you still relish it for a long time, that richness and the memory of the texture of the richness. It’s local but exotic at the same time, sweet and sour at the same time and dry and wet at the same time. Anaar juice is also very good for the liver, no?

And apparently, so are rabbits, full of vitamins and minerals. The vitamins and minerals of this film go far beyond the sharply written plot spiralling out of control every five minutes. Or so it seems because it never goes out of hand. The film merely teeters on the edge; as mercurial as Tabu’s performance, as lucid as Radhika’s and as fluid as Ayushmann’s.

What keeps it from teetering off the edge is the phenomenal love for the medium on display, the self-assured craft and the Raghavan moral universe that plays hand in glove with immorality as smoothly as the images, sound, music, words, places, people and performances play with each other; all the worlds he seems to understand equally well.

Such ingenuity cannot come without a distinct love and understanding of the medium and it cannot come without the accompanying genius of your team. Without K.U. Mohanan’s intriguing camera work, Madhu Apsara’s equally trippy and cheeky sound design and Pooja Ladha Surti’s shrewd editing, the film would not have been half of what it is eventually, a sheer treat of music and magic.

Such ingenuity also cannot come without a stronghold on the moral core of the story. Raghavan’s films may all be stories steeped in an immoral universe with equally susceptible heroes, where goodness doesn’t necessarily always get rewarded and evil isn’t always punished. Yet, they operate within a very clear and basic framework of right and wrong that never loses its focus, even when gutted and laughing at its own self.

A completely plot-driven narrative from start to finish, one then almost imagines Raghavan playing similarly with his film. Turning his hero from blind to not blind to blind to we-don’t-even-know-anymore, with a tongue firmly tucked in the cheek. Chuckling away at the absolutely delicious conundrum a murder-gone-wrong can become. Shoot the piano player! Shoot! No, not yet! Shoot! Missed! Run! Hit! Fall! Gotcha! No? Wait…What?! I want a time plus brain machine that can go inside SR’s head and tell me how it was working when he was writing this whacko piece of sheer art.

When the hat tipped and tipped
The film saves its tribute card for Chhayageet and Chitrahaar, very aptly personified as fondly remembered, dearly loved people now no more, with dates et al. (Oh yes, sir, yes!) All the love for Bollywood then flows freely as the thriller merrily turns itself into a musical tribute to Hindi films and films in general; noir in particular – SR’s pet territory. And here comes in Truffaut’s delectable, ‘Shoot The Piano Player’, a film whose language SR borrows from so gracefully and meticulously that he outdoes Truffaut at his own game in creating a unique piece of cinema at once tragic and comic, classical and unconventional, silly and smart but with the distinct impression of a directorial sleight of hand that is playing with his material as consciously as the film seems un-self-conscious while having a lot of fun himself. This is the real tribute, and it is delectable.

The film almost starts similarly, taking the noir trope of a gun chase set-up happening in some other universe and immediately cutting to the universe of the film. The chased in Truffaut’s film is the protagonist’s brother, a semi-central character that turns the film on its head, the chased in Raghavan’s film is a rabbit, a non-character that turns the film on its head. That’s how whimsical is his craft. And delicious!

Kent Jones in his piece on Truffaut’s film says it is a film, “in which all of his assorted gifts and preoccupations are in play and meshed into a uniquely idiosyncratic whole. The film offers powerful evidence of his love of American cinema and literature… There is that wonderful speed, a pleasure in and of itself, that amounts to a kind of worldview—actions, objects, places, and sensations glimpsed and seized on, almost spontaneously forming a vivid afterimage in the mind’s eye. And his high-velocity storytelling is intimately tied to the feeling of impending mortality, the sense of every given moment in time coming and going, never to return. As for surprise, Shoot the Piano Player is about as unpredictable from one moment to the next as any film I know.” Was he speaking of Andhadhun and Sriram Raghavan?!

Perhaps, it is the play of contrasts in the film that lends it its unpredictability and richness. Yoking seriousness with hilarity at every turn, the tonal quality of the film becomes a universally mocking one and freely so. This delicious mockery is directed at everyone, everyone is in on the joke, except the characters. That’s why as Simi’s character unfolds we revel in the knowledge she can never be Nurse Radha – part 2. I am assuming it is a play on Waheeda Rehman’s character in ‘Khamoshi’ (1970), that genteel, heartbroken woman yearning to love again. Lady Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, we say (not only coz it’s the perfect Tabu, the original Lady Maqbool) but until Dr Swamy calls her so we realise she is far away from that too; Simi is absolutely guilt-free, completely soul-less. But then, with the exception of Sophie and Akash, this entire universe is completely soulless. Even Bandu, that see-it-all brat, who quickly enough becomes the audience’s ally in getting to the bottom of this mystery-within-mystery. Until the film takes another crazy spin at interval.

Whose lens is it anyway?
The blind hero who was not blind has now officially turned blind. What is this seeing and unseeing business? It’s a smooth trick of genius-giri. We, as audience begin the film watching Akash’s story first through the innocent, naïve eyes of Sophie, then as we are wisening up to the antics of the film-maker he shifts our POV to a smarter lens, that of a precocious, oversmart Bandu. Just when we think we have caught up with him here too, the proverbial rug is off from under our feet and we are in the deep, dank, dark. Just like our hero. From then on and just like him, we are fumbling in the dark too, with all the secrets hanging around for us to grasp and unravel. Till we are back to being the gullible Sophie again left to put the pieces together. And we do, until a crushed coke can hits a rabbit handled stick and knocks that part of our brain that tells us when we have been played. Check-mated sir, and glad to lose! And that is why I disagree with every review that says the second half is weaker and loses steam. The second half in fact, is as perfect as the first, maybe even better, puncturing perfectly, all the balls of contrast constantly in air.

These contrasts play out on all levels, much like all the cinematic elements in the film, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes one after the other in rapid succession, moulding and remoulding the film as it goes. The permanent warm tone sets up an idyllic, small-town Pune only to open up into the brutality at its borders. Dramatic, operatic music punctuates dramatic scenes as well as turns them comic, and in the scene where Simi and Manu clean the traces of their crime as Akash plays away – tragi-comic (and brilliant!). The sound cuts, diegetic yet full of imminent danger, keep the excitement tingling as the film keeps playing with our senses and feelings. After a point, the musical bit in this ‘musical-thriller’ transcends from the world of Akash’s piano and starts creeping under our skin as it starts underlining the unfolding darkness, tragedy and comedy. I don’t think Beethoven himself could have thought of a better cinematic use for his 5th symphony. Very cheeky, but the classic ‘Teri galiyon mein‘ is now redefined for generations to come. And since we are talking about music, welcome back Amit Trivedi and Jaideep Sahni, it had been a while.

As the film draws to an end, you suddenly become aware of the smile on your face, pasted there with Fevicol for the past 2.20 hrs. You realise you are feeling happy and hopeful. You also realise you wanted the film to go on and on. Especially, since the ending is still open, still incomplete. But then as Sophie says, ‘Kuchh cheezein adhoori honese hi toh poori hoti hain.’

You get up, humming aapse milkar accha laga, bahut accha laga. And walk out giving out a silent, invisible bow. Ekdum liver se.

Fatema Kagalwala

When master of the modern Hindi noir, Sriram Raghavan, announced his next project ‘Andhadhun’, there was a lot of discussion around the name, what it meant, and how it was supposed to be spelt. And of course, what the movie would be about.

The trailer and new poster for the film was released today (film’s new release date is now 5th October), and it shows that it is the love story of a blind pianist, who meets a terrific girl and then another woman, and then many things happen to him. Among his inspirations for the film Raghavan counts Fargo, both the film and the series.

The premise is interesting enough, and the trailer makes it even more so. The IMDB synopsis on the film reads: “He sees what he shouldn’t. She sees what he couldn’t. So the question is, does he see it or not?”

The trailer also revealed that the film stars famous 70s actor Anil Dhawan, which is causing much excitement amongst fans.

Here’s the trailer of the film:

Starring: Radhika Apte, Ayushmann Khurana, Tabu, and Anil Dhawan
Producer: Matchbox Pictures, Viacom18 Motion Pictures
Writer & Director: Sriram Raghavan
Editor: Pooja Ladha Surti
Co-writer: Arijit Biswas
Music: Amit Trivedi
Lyrics: Jaideep Sahni
Release: 5th October 2018

Here is Sriram’s interview regarding the film on Scroll.

As we have done in the past, this year too we are trying to source the scripts of some of the best films of the year. As most of you know, the scripts of Hollywood films are easily available online, even the unreleased ones. But we don’t have any such database of Hindi or Indian films. So that has been the primary reason for this initiative. And it has been possible only because some of the screenwriters and filmmakers have been very supportive about it. It’s only for educational purpose and much like the spirit of the blog, is a complete non-commercial exercise.

In our “Best of 2015” series, earlier we shared the script of Neeraj Ghaywan’s MasaanMeghna Gulzar’s Talvar, Navdeep Singh’s NH10, Kanu Behl’s Titli and Sharat Katariya’s Dum Laga Ke Haisha. Badlapur was missing. So here it is.

badlapur

A Sriram Raghavan film always has a lot to offer. Sadly, his last few films received the critical acclaim but never got the box office numbers. This time, with Badlapur, he scored on both counts.

A revenge film unlike any, where the morality tables are turned, and you keep wondering with whom should your sympathy be. Aha, so delicious. Apologies for delay in posting this. And thanks to Sriram for making the script available. And before you start reading the script, here’s a small note from him about the draft –

Too many drafts to hunt from and sift through. Finally found one…still work in progress but there are couple of scenes that are different, or were written but never shot…etc etc. Some cringe lines which we later realized and so on. As always, the process is magical. (at least most of the times). Hope you have fun reading it.

Film : Badlapur

Director : Sriram Raghavan

Story : Story – Massimmo Carlotto

Screenplay and Dialogue – Sriram Raghavan, Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti

We love year end lists. It’s great fun to see who thinks what about which film at the end of the year. Rajeev Masand does a year end roundtable with actors and directors.

In this year’s roundtable, he has six filmmakers who talk about some of the newsy topics and the challenges they faced. The directors are Sriram Raghavan (Badlapur), Anand L Rai (Tanu Weds Manu Returns), Zoya Akhtar (Dil Dhadakne Do), Shoojit Sircar (Piku), Sharat Katariya (Dum Laga Ke Haisha), and Kabir Khan (Bajrangi Bhaijaan).

Masters-1

Drishyam Films is organising The Masters, a monthly series of exclusive learning sessions with India’s finest cinematic talents.

Kickstarting this series will be a screening of Sriram Raghvan’s film Raman Raghav, followed by a master class with him. The film, at its first-ever public screening, will be introduced by filmmaker Atul Sabharwal, director (Aurangzeb, In Their Shoes), who will also be the moderator of the Q and A to be followed.

Raman Raghav is a two-part made-for-video series made by Raghavan in 1991. It is based on the successful investigations of the Stoneman murders that took place in the 1960s, drawing from official police case files. However, these films were never distributed and this will be their first theatrical outing, exclusive to early bird registrations.

– The event is free and open to all, based on a first-come-first serve basis.

– To register, do click here 

– The event will take place on October 21, 2015, 8 pm at PVR Andheri, Citimall. 

Whenever there has been a film worth having a conversation, we have always tried to get the creative heads involved, and get them talking. We have been waiting for a long time to get Sriram Raghavan do the same. Finally, we got him for post-screening Q & A of Badlapur. Much thanks to Sriram, who not only obliged for it at a short notice, but he also got his co-writers Arijit Biswas and Pooja Ladha Surti for the discussion, whom we rarely get to hear.

Thanks to PVR Cinemas and Shiladitya Bora for the venue.

And a big thanks to Mihir Desai, Aniruddha Patankar & Anusha Singhania who recorded the entire event in poor light, edited it all, managed all the sound fuckups, and uploaded the videos for you all to see.

(PS – If you like our blog and are film fanatics like us, do like our FB page for all the cool cinema related stuff and discussions)

Saif, Sriram - Agent Vinod

For many of us, Sriram Raghavan’s Agent Vinod was one of the most anticipated films of the year. After two thrill-pills – Ek Haseena Thi and Johnny Gaddar, we all were waiting for a hat-trick. But somehow it didn’t work out. And that leads us to a bigger question – how do you know what’s working and what’s not at the script stage. It’s quite a difficult task.

I had read the script first and then saw the film. And this (So what happened to Agent Vinod?) was the post that i wrote after watching the film. At that time many of you had tweeted and sent mails asking for the script of Agent Vinod. I didn’t have the permission then. Now, as we look back, and are compiling year-end posts, i thought it would be a nice idea to share the script with you all. And we must thank Sriram Raghavan for it who quickly agreed and gave a go-ahead to post it.

So here it is, read, share and have fun! It’s written by Sriram Raghavan and Arijit Biswas.

(PS – Don’t forget to check out Sriram’s footnotes in the script 😉

(PS1 – The script shared here is only for educational purpose and is completely non-commercial initiative.)

(PS2 – To check out other scripts that we have posted on the blog, click here for Vikramaditya Motwane’s Udaan script, click here for Anurag Kashyap’s Dev D script and click here for Dev Benegal’s Road, Movie script.)