Both made their debut on Netflix recently. Both star the thinking man’s sex symbol, the actress Radhika Apte. The latter fact is not so important because the dusky, sexy, Apte seems to be the go-to girl for almost all Indian web series and now films, that I have seen so far. It makes one wonder why there are no other prominent actresses for such roles. Talk about serious face fatigue.
But simple really, if you think about it. Apte is talented. The rest are mediocre. There’s a gaping hole where actresses for web series are concerned. So she’s all over; be it a series or a film or magazine covers or whatever! Anybody listening? Idiot box actresses should at least take note and perk up their act. Theres definitely no dearth of talent there so this issue simply mystifies.
As for a choice between the two fairly new films, my bet goes to Andhadhun over Bazaar anyday.
A blind artist (singer/pianist) who’s not actually blind. An actress who’s not really one. A devoted wife who’s not all that devoted. A policeman who’s not just a cop. Basically, this dark comedy tells us that appearances are deceptive. Murder, mayhem, deceit, quite a lot of sex and revenge is what makes up one of my favourite directors, Sriram Raghavan’s latest outing.
And I have been a fan ever since I saw his Ek Hasina Thi years ago, that starred Urmila Matondkar and Saif Ali Khan and was my first introduction to the cinema of this calibre in Bollywood. It was a deep, dark movie where the characters were all either black or white. No greys here. It was fascinating to see a filmmaker break boundaries and go where no other director wanted to tread.
When I interviewed Raghavan, an FTII, Pune pass-out, for a story on directors whose cinema was breaking grounds, around that time, I still remember him saying how his own favourite genre was always thrillers. He talked about how much he was influenced by the work of Steven
Sodenberg, Brian De Palma, Quentin Tarantino, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and even Mani Ratnam. That the success of Ek Hasina Thi rewrote Saif Ali Khan’s movie career was the biggest message it could have sent across.
Andhadhun is no less. Ayushman Khurana is brilliant as the pianist who witnesses a murder but cannot speak about it because he has been pretending to be blind all the while. Tabu, as the female version of Machiavelli, is beyond compare. She inspires hatred. Not an easy feat by any means. As for Apte, for once she doesn’t have much to do other than talk and look pretty with a lot of exposed skin here and there.
The movie tells us that there isnt much that is good here. Human beings are essentially flawed, depraved and evil and sometimes that is the truth. Raghavan delights in this and paints his picture with a flourish. Based on the French short film The Piano Tuner, Andhadhun has left viewers trying to unravel its unpredictable complex climax. It garnered close to ₹20 crore at the box office within the first five days.
Bazaar has great promise and premise but somewhere leaves us unfulfilled, salivating, as in waiting for deliverance. Poor little idealistic kid, Rizwan Ahmed played well by newcomer Rohan Mehra is sucked into the world of man-eat-man stock markets when he leaves his home in Allahabad and comes to Mumbai to be as successful as his idol, the Gujju businessman Shakun Kothari played by Saif Ali Khan who seems to be getting better and better with age in terms of histrionics and even his looks. He does his job wonderfully, playing the part of a Gujarati to perfection.
Radhika Apte is realistic as a young ambitious trader in this jungle similar to the Wests’ Wall Street. She twists every rule in the book to get ahead and help her lover too. The only misfit here is perhaps Chitrangada Singh who plays the lead character’s wife. She does not and cannot contribute much to her craft. The weakest link in the movie, I would say.
Rizwan is engulfed into this world where he learns the price one has to pay for such privileges. Betrayed and having lost everything, when he does set out to put things right; the film falls apart. It becomes typical Bollywood farcical fare and a supposed triumph of good over evil. Idealism wins. Even though in the end, the Gujju is back from jail and starts his fraudulent business again. Typical words in a typical India where laws are tampered with and crimes are often unpaid for.
Initially good but slow to pick up with many a false start. Director
Gauravv K. Chawla has assisted previously on many films and also helmed a TV series. But his first lead film scores average.
For me, the film seemed to be all about screaming television headlines every second minute that got more footage than the lead actors. It was kind of boring. The songs that jumped out of nowhere didn’t help too.
Watch it only if you must… to kill time.