Bhramam Movie Review: A toned down version of Andhadhun, re-imagined as a cruel comedy of errors

Updated on Oct 07, 2021 07:34 PM IST  |  76.3K
   
Bhramam Movie Review: A toned down version of Andhadhun, re-imagined as a cruel comedy of errors
Bhramam Movie Review: A toned down version of Andhadhun, re-imagined as a cruel comedy of errors
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Movie: Bhramam

Director: Ravi K Chandran

Star Cast: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Mamtha Mohandas, Unni Mukundan and Raashii Khanna.

Streaming Platform: Amazon Prime Video

Rating: 3/5 stars 

Review: Arjun Menon

The film works due to the funnier scenes that adds a certain charm to the dark tale of lies, deceptions and human folly, thereby ends up being a commercial rendering of Andhadhun.

Even three years after its release, Sriram Raghavan’s gritty thriller Andhadhun seems to be the go-to for the regional cinema. After the lukewarm response to the Telugu version Maestro that released last month and with a Tamil version in its last stages of production, it is safe to say that producers have fully tapped the potential possibilities for desi reimagining’s of the modern classic. You can imagine the superior status of a film, when an industry known for its “original content” decides to desi-fy it, yes a very rare case of a remake from Malayalam cinema. Bhramam featuring Prithviraj in the lead is the borderline comical adaptation of a serious material that stands its own ground as a separate entity devoid of any major flourishes in its narrative ambitions or filmmaking.

Bhramam is a routine remake that stays faithful to its original in its narrative design but a film that tweaks the central conceit for the sake of tonal levity. The film follows the plot points of the modern noir classic to the tee yet somehow subverts the genre expectations. Somehow setting the film in Fort Kochi feels authentic to the world of Ray Mathews (Prithviraj Sukumar), a blind musician on the lookout for a successful music career, lost in the city of dreams and hope. Ravi K Chandran, the ace cinematographer, who has shot and directed Bhramam does not want to mimic the edgy, brooding atmospherics of the original and instead uses bright strokes in its visual setup, an aesthetic choice that works in favor of the film. The songs and background score by Jakes Bejoy walk the tight line of balancing between the Jazz infused soundscape and comedic elements in the screenplay.

Considering the popularity of Sriram Raghavan’s original, the major challenge that faces the makers were obviously negating the familiarity of the plotting with a more desi- tonal reworking, suited to the milieu of the story. The template is all there for Ravi K Chandran and his writer Sarath Balan, who adapts the screenplay infusing the beats of a routine caper comedy that does not take itself too seriously. Bhramam benefits greatly from a cast, that feels handpicked to avoid assembly of favored, usual faces that flock to our minds when it comes to secondary characters roles in our films.

For instance, S I Abinav (Unni Mukundan) is a character that would have ended up being a mere rehash of the bulky - dumb cop that we have seen umpteen times in our films but the decision to cast someone like Unni Mukundan works big time as he lends an air of awkward mindlessness to the part, owing to his almost stoic rendering of unintentionally witty lines and fidgety cold stares in the face of tense moments, a slight departure from the original. Another careful choice, to bring in an actor like Shankar to play the washed-up yesteryear star – Udaya Kumar, works for its meta recall value to Shankar’s own career in films, that sets up the narrative context with great economy.

Simi (Mamta Mohandas), the femme fatale figure in the narrative, feels the detached, scheming and refreshingly cold antagonist – and Mamta grounds the part in the world of Bhramam with a funnier layer of deception in her lines. Anna (Raashii Khanna), Ray’s love interest too gets her moments in the screenplay later but it is Jagadeesh, who seemed like a great choice to play Swami, the doctor running the godforsaken hospital embroiled in shoddy organ trafficking deals. However, Prithviraj comes up with a different interpretation of the text and finds some footing in the maze-like plot, that wanders from one bad turn to another in quick turns.

Prithviraj holds his own as the blind musician, never letting the shadow of Ayushman’s gentle boy-ness to fall over his more wry, heavier persona as a performer. The actor loosens up after a string of serious outings and scores with the little touches that merits further forays into the truth behind the mysterious, cunning leading man. Bhramam is not going for the restraint of the original Hindi version and tries to mine the basic premise for a more cartoonish reading of Raghavan’s tunneled, vigorous vision. Bhramam is the desi, more accessible counterpart to the original, that is an attempt to blow life into the funny quirks found in between the grittiness of the dark text. This however does not add much value in terms of storytelling possibilities and ends up being the toned-down, happier, masala vision of Andhadhun, reimagined more as a cruel comedy of errors.

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