Bhramam(Malayalam, Amazon Prime Video)
Directed by Ravi K Chandran
Rating: *** ½
I don’t know how he did it. But playing the devious pianist who may or may not be—then again he may be—blind from Sriram Raghavan’s game-changing 2018 suspense thriller Andhadhun,Prithviraj Sukumaran pretty much nails it. He is charming and vulnerable, sly and silly, victim and perpetrator, all at once.
It is as accomplished a performance as Ayushmann Khurrana in the original. In all details cinematographer Ravi K Chandran’s directorial venture adheres pretty much to the original.
And yet the narrative has wacky local flavor especially in the way the second-half in a deserted organ-translation hospital is turned into some kind of comedy of errors.
The doctor in charge (played by Jagadish Kumar) is crazy enough to look like a character out of an illustrated comic strip on demented doctoring.
And the two commoners, the autorickshaw driver and the lottery-ticket seller who help/betray/betray/help Ray seem more confused than the plot demanded them to be.
Nonetheless Prithviraj’s undeniable charm and striking screen presence sees the patchy episodes through,leaving us with a remake far more palatable than what was done to Andhadhun in Tamil and Telugu recently.
Prithiviraj gets the point of the opulently satirical original. He has loads of fun playing blind whenever it suits him.
The main murderous mess where an unfaithful wife carries out her husband’s murder with her lover while the hero plays the piano blindly, is undertaken in the don-t-mind-the-mayhem spirit that underlined Shriram Raghavan’s pitch-perfect crime satire which was driven by some wildly improbable coincidences.
Those steep turns of fate in the original appear far more contrived and improbable here.
What are the chances that the man blind Ray “sees” helping the adulterous wife in murdering her husband would turn out to be the cop in-charge the next morning at the police station when Ray arrives to report the crime?
There is something missing here. Something vital is absent from Mamta Mohandas’ performance as the murderous wife.
She is no doubt a well-versed actress. But she is unable to swathe the frames in a captivating enigma the way Tabu did.
I didn’t miss Ayushmann in the remake for even a second.But I sorely missed Tabu specially in the sequences where she takes on her “blind” adversary head-on.
Some other actors in smaller parts are interesting, for instance Ananya Nair as Simi’s lover’s blindly devoted bullying wife and Leela Samson as Simi’s nosy neighbour .
The jazz-imbued songs did not impress me, although the playback singer doing Prithviraj’s songs sounds incredibly like him.
There are echoes and voiceovers of life’s most ambivalent turning-points all across the film, furnishing the theme of vision without eyesight with an inner glow.
But the spark and shock of the original is forfeited in the remake. Still ,if you liked Andhadhun there is no reason Bhramam would displease you.