In Sriram Raghavan's world, improbability is just a plot point. The director, who has given timeless thrillers such as Ek Haseena Thi, Johnny Gaddar and Badlapur to Hindi cinema, is back with another mystery in Andhadhun, where a blind pianist is at the centre of a murder. Raghvan says he is attracted to such stories because it is fascinating to de-construct the psyche of a person in a pickle.
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"People often get caught in situations or do something that they regret for the rest of their lives. What happens and how you try to cover up is the story. These are not career criminals. I relate to it because there is this possibility that it can happen to anyone. We all are scared of bad things... So when you are watching a film, you see your fears on the screen. You have this thought 'Thank God, it is happening to someone else'," the director told PTI in an interview.
"It was a long brewing idea that finally took shape in Andhadhun, which features Ayushmann Khurrana as the blind pianist, Radhika Apte, Tabu and Anil Dhawan. One of my friends was in a situation similar to something that happens in the film. That was the take-off and we wrote a passable story. And then I remembered how old Hindi films had these piano songs. Also, in Raabta from Agent Vinod, there was this blind girl who plays the piano while all the fight is happening around her. We thought, 'Let's have the blind pianist as the main character'," he says.
"Unlike Badlapur, which had a sensational beginning with the killing of the heroine, Andhadhun begins as a romantic comedy and then something happens," he says, adding that the trailer basically follows the structure of the film. Thriller is not the most popular genre in Hindi cinema but with the influx of web medium, crime shows have picked up momentum.
He says, "There are a lot of shows on the web for sure but still there are not many films. Only three or four thrillers are made in Hindi cinema in a year. There is a fascination for crime genre but producers think thrillers don't have that much of a market or will not get picked up for satellite rights. "I believe thrillers work if the story is good. It is not easy to make a thriller because the audience is making their own story in their minds as they watch the film. You have to break that expectation and still make them like the film. So, it is a little difficult to pick the right script as there are not many people writing them."
Another reason for the genre not getting its due is because it demands more involvement from the viewers. "You have to be alert while watching a thriller. But in India, people go to theatre to have a good laugh. Thrillers can disturb you, make you tense and make you think."
The director says he was really impressed by Apte, even though she had a small role, while Tabu was someone he always wanted to work with. "Tabu is superb in the movie but I should not say that, you would realise that when you watch the film. I am actually a huge fan. I am lucky that she agreed for the film because I wanted to work with her for a long time."
"With Radhika, I always knew that she was talented. We talk about movies a lot. She is the sunshine in this film. Ayushmann called me and did the audition and I thought he was perfect for the role. I was impressed by his enthusiasm," he says.
A huge Alfred Hitchcock fan, Raghvan says he likes to return to good thrillers such as Jewel Thief. "A thriller is like an adventure... It is like reading a good book, you are experiencing it like the protagonist," he adds. Andhadhun is set to be released on October 5.