Bhramam movie review: Prithviraj Sukumaran's pointless Andhadhun remake will blindside you with blandness
Bhramam movie review: Prithviraj Sukumaran steps into Ayushmann Khurrana's shoes in an utterly pointless shot-for-shot remake of Andhadhun.
Director - Ravi K Chandran
Cast - Prithviraj Sukumaran, Unni Mukundan, Mamta Mohandas, Raashi Khanna, Shankar Panicker
Normally, movie remakes are either born out of a filmmaker's intense love for the original, or a desire to improve them. But in India, most remakes are birthed because of someone's insatiable greed. They’re essentially re-releases that nobody asked for; the cinematic equivalent of a Toyota Corolla. You’ll pay for the latest model because it looks new, but under the hood, it basically has the same engine.
So you watch Bhramam, the Malayalam remake of Andhadhun, with slight trepidation. You know how things work; this isn’t your first rodeo. But before you roll your eyes at the cynicism of it all, you remind yourself that it’s a fair exchange; Bollywood gets to butcher the most popular Tamil and Telugu hits on a bi-monthly basis, so why should the South Indian industries hold back?
Watch the Bhramam trailer here:
But you can’t apply an ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ strategy to art. Bhramam, like the dozens of Indian remakes before it, has neither a point nor a purpose. This isn't the fault of the audiences; we all know how gladly Indians will consume good international cinema, especially if it’s something with the pedigree of Andhadhun. It’s the fault of producers looking to make a quick buck.
There isn’t anything inherently wrong with being money-minded. But if cash is all that you’re after, why make movies? Why not sell Toyota Corollas?
So you sit back and hit play — yes, Bhramam is on Amazon Prime, but as you’ll discover an hour-and-some-change later, it has a clearly-marked interval point. And then, you'll almost immediately begin having flashbacks. Not the nice kind. The kind that annoy you, flashbacks of the foggy kind; misremembered memories; dismayingly dim details. You’ve seen all this before.
Watching Bhramam is like filling out the same long survey twice because your computer crashed the first time and you lost all the damn data. But the girl you’re sort of into is the one who’d sent it to you, and you’d agreed to take it. It’s for some cause, which you’d pretended to be very interested in. You can’t back out now. So you heave a deep sigh and begin again, mechanically punching in the same answers you’d deliberated over an hour ago (you didn’t want to look stupid). It’ll be over soon, you tell yourself.
But ‘it’ takes two-and-a-half hours. How is that possible, you ask yourself. You’d breezed through it 15 minutes quicker the first time around, and this time, you hadn’t even put your mind to it. And then it hits you — it must be the songs.
Bhramam is virtually a shot-for-shot redo of Andhadhun that will be a waste of time to everybody that has watched the original and a poor representation of it to those who haven't. That sounds contradictory, I know — how can something be an exact replica, but still inferior?
And this is where we get into the technicalities. Bhramam replaces the CGI bunny at the beginning of Andhadhun with a CGI wild boar. The rabbit, if you remember, pointedly had a missing eye, but the boar in Bhramam — the Bhramamboar, if you will — appears to have both its eyes, thereby robbing the film of important symbolism in the very first scene.
The second glaring — no pun intended — difference comes in the casting. You might have forgotten that Radhika Apte was in Andhadhun, but that is neither her fault nor yours. Tabu basically steamrolled over that film by delivering a performance that Nawazuddin Siddiqui would describe as ‘phailna’. There was a reason why director Shriram Raghavan cast Tabu, who is noticeably older than Ayushmann Khurrana, in that role. But in Bhramam, Mamta Mohandas, who plays the same character, is verifiably younger than star Prithviraj Sukumaran.
Sukumaran, who played a diametrically opposite character in the recent film Kuruthi, simply doesn’t have Ayushmann Khurrana’s inherent diceyness. Say what you will, but there’s something going on behind that smile that is perpetually plastered on his face, and so far, only Raghavan has been able to tap into the shady side of his personality. But in Bhramam, Sukumaran plays the blind pianist Ray Mathews will little nuance.
These changes range from arbitrary to utterly baffling. Which begs the question: why make them at all, considering the overall unadventurous spirit of the enterprise? And if making alterations had always been on the table, why not do something that actually elevates the movie, or at least sets it apart from what has already been done? Fort Kochi could’ve played a more prominent role in the film; it is certainly more cinematic than the mishmash of Maharashtra towns that Raghavan filmed Andhadhun in, but director Ravi K Chandran doesn’t adequately mine the location.
Nor does he attempt, even slightly, to play around with an established structure. Remember, most of the fun in Andhadhun came in the journey; it was a film that put all its cards on the table, and deliberately revealed twists very early in the game.
Bhramam, however, is ultimately a massive waste of time, and a step in the wrong direction for an industry that has been consistently operating at a higher level than any other in the country. You’ll be blindsided by its blandness.