While there aren't too many differences in terms of the narrative of Bhramam and Andhadhun, the characterisation of the roles along with lively performances from each of the actors and Ravi K Chandran's stylish visuals keep the audience engaged
Story: Ray Mathews is a pianist, who pretends to be blind to get more lucrative opportunities. However, he soon finds himself as a 'witness' at a crime scene involving an yesteryear actor, his wife Simi and sub inspector Dinesh. How does Ray get out of the predicament and at what cost, when everyone else is trying to chase a better life at the expense of others' in the dog-eat-dog setting of this black comedy thriller, which is the Malayalam remake of Bollywood film, Andhadhun.
Review: Rarely does one find a Bollywood film being remade in Malayalam; the reason that is often quoted is that the Malayali audience watches content across languages. While this isn't necessarily true, making a remake work in Malayalam is fraught with risk, especially one of a film that is as popular as Andhadhun.
For starters, the setting of the Bollywood film didn't need to be altered much for its Malayalam version that is set in Fort Kochi where the background of the movie's protagonist Ray Mathews and his profession seamlessly blend in. The film's wickedly quirky turn of events tick all the boxes of similar black comedies in Malayalam helmed by the likes of Priyadarshan in the past.
The story of Bhramam is set in a dog-eat-dog world where every character is out to snatch what gets them ahead in their lives. On one hand, you have Ray Mathews (Prithviraj Sukumaran), who pretends to be blind after 'seeing' that a person with not even half his qualifications was given precedence in a teaching job due to his visual impairment. On the other hand, there's Simi (Mamta Mohandas), who is married to a yesteryear star (Shankar) for his money and influence, but has an affair with a sub inspector when the former is away. Even the supporting characters - a doctor, a lottery seller and an autorickshaw driver - too have their selfish interests that they try to execute once they rein in the helpless prey. Amid this, the makers insert Anna (Raashi Khanna) who almost serves as a moral compass for the characters as well as the audience in the end.
While there aren't too many differences in terms of the narrative of Bhramam and Andhadhun, the characterisation of the roles along with lively performances from each of the actors are what keeps the audience, even those who have watched the Hindi film, invested. Prithviraj as Ray is a treat to watch; he makes the role his own and he shines in the comedy portions of the film, especially in scenes with Mamta and Dinesh as they doubt him. While it would be unfair to compare Tabu and Mamta, the latter lends her style to the role of Simi and brings in just the right amount of wackiness to a role that could so easily have been over the top. The duo's performances, especially in scenes together, are the highlights of the film.
The supporting acts by Raashi Khanna, Unni Mukundan, Jagadish, Ananya, Shankar and Sminu Sijo keep the movie, which is about 2 hour 30 minutes in length, engaging. While Unni once again gets stereotyped as a 'muscle man', Jagadish appears in a role that uses his comic timing and versatility.
Another stark difference between Andhadhun and Bhramam is in the way it is shot. Director Ravi K Chandran, who also handles the cinematography of Bhramam, opts for brighter and stylish visuals, making almost every frame seem like a painting. Sarath Balan's dialogues and Jakes Bejoy's music too need to be commended in making Bhramam a worthwhile watch.
That said, Bhramam doesn't offer too much of a different experience from the original. The pacing in the second half slacks, mainly with the visuals and the script losing the tautness that it had for the better part of the film. This is also where the black comedy becomes zanier but suffers from the lack of energy. This results in the denouement not making a strong impact.
Verdict: The Malayalam remake of Andhadhun, which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, will keep even those who have watched Ayushmann Khurrana's film engaged. This is mostly due to Prithviraj's and Mamta's spirited performances, along with Ravi K Chandran's brilliant cinematography.