Director: Merlapaka Gandhi
Cast: Nithiin, Tamannaah, Nabha Natesh, Jisshu Sengupta
Remakes are tricky. They rarely live up to the bar the originals set. Papanasam in Tamil with Kamal Hassan could never match the original Malayalam work, Drishyam, with Mohanlal, although both were directed by Jithu Joseph. Let’s not even talk about the Hindi (with Ajay Devgn) and Telugu versions. Another Hindi original, Pink, starring Amitabh Bachchan, was miles ahead of the Tamil copy featuring Ajith. Somehow, those making remakes seem to feel like they need to give something more or something better than the previous versions, and stumble. Or they follow blindly, which may not be a good thing either.
Disney+ Hotstar has now offered a Telugu remake of Andhadhun – made in Hindi by Sriram Raghavan in 2018 and headlined by Ayushmann Khurrana, Tabu and Radhika Apte. Although touted as a black comedy, there was little humor in it. The climax was great, and if I remember correctly, it was set in Venice. Now Andhadhun has invaded as Maestro with Nithiin (as Arun) re-imagining Khurrana’s character of a blind pianist. Unfortunately, the remake work wasn’t tight enough and strayed a bit.
Aided by Merlapaka Gandhi, Maestro also has Tamannaah and Jisshu Sengupta. It’s almost a frame-by-frame copy of the original. Though Andhadhun was wild and left a lot to the imagination, Maestro feeds you with a spoon and tries to explain each situation. The story has great potential. It starts with Arun falling in love with Sophie (Nabha Natesh; Radhika Apte in the original). He meets her at her father’s bar and starts playing the piano there to attract more customers and prevent the business from spiraling downward. A chance meeting with a former star, Mohan (Naresh), gets the ball rolling. The actor asks Arun to give a private concert in his flat. This will be to surprise Mohan’s wife, Simran (Tamannaah, who steps into Tabu’s shoes in Andhadhun). At the apartment, Arun sees a skeleton fall out of the closet. It has a gruesome story to tell, about Simran’s lover, Inspector Ravinder (Jisshu Sengupta).
The plot bends to many angles, taking different paths. And ends in one. The final is played in Dubai, and one has to look closely at the last shot. It has something amazing to offer!
You wish Gandhi had taken liberties to hone in on the original story; instead, he adds more to it, robbing it of edginess and suspense. Performances have been successful. Tamannaah is no match for Tabu, and Nithiin is good at parts, but doesn’t have the caliber of Khurrana or his on-screen presence.
Maestro can work for those who may not have seen Andhadhun. But for those who have, the Telugu movie may seem flat, especially when they know what the Hindi thriller was about.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author and a film critic)
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