Sriram Raghavan’s twisty thriller AndhaDhun – widely considered one of the best films of 2018 – is celebrated for its unforgettably tense sequences. Among them is, of course, that murder scene which runs longer than 10 minutes, in which a ‘blind’ Ayushmann Khurrana witnesses Tabu and Manav Vij clumsily dispose of Pramod Sinha’s body. All the while Khurrana must maintain his piano performance, without reacting and giving away his lack of disability and the two perpetrators must go about their work silently without alerting the seemingly blind pianist to their activities.
Raghavan says he insisted the scene take place in the day. “There were a couple of times when people asked me why this scene wasn’t shot at night, because normally you would call somebody for a private concert maybe late evening with a glass of wine and so on. But both Mohanan (cinematographer) and I felt that in this movie, a lot of the crimes should happen in broad daylight. As if it’s happening in the building next to you and you don’t know.”
Raghavan spoke to Film Companion about what went into rehearsing the iconic scene:
“I’ve always been hammering to my unit and my team that this is a very important scene and we must not screw it up and so on. So I told four of my assistants and one cameraman that ‘you all just stage the scene for me and show me the video’ and it was great fun to watch what they had done. They did a few takes with different variations and I said ‘okay this is great, now I better do the same with the actors because it’s a tough scene’. Somehow on the day of the shoot, there were a lot of issues, as it usually happens on a small movie, you’re kind of a little behind schedule and things pile up. We had a tough time getting that red wine on the floor because we weren’t getting the right colour for the camera and it was a new house so the owner didn’t want wine stains on the tile so we were trying various concoctions. I kept yelling at my unit that ‘why didn’t you do all this earlier?’ and they said they did and they showed it to me and I approved it. Basically, we lost a little time and I was worried about whether I will get the time to rehearse and shoot the scene. Then one thought struck me – that Tabu and Manav are not doing this every day so why should they rehearse it at all? So I told them ‘okay no rehearsals just go for the take, you have 3 – 4 minutes to do all these things so you figure it out. So they saw some of the footage of what my assistants had done but Tabu said she didn’t want to see another person performing it. So they didn’t watch anything and they just did it, so this scene is completely not rehearsed.”