Normally, movie remakes either born from the director’s strong love for the original, or a desire to improve them. But in India, most remakes are born out of someone’s insatiable greed. Basically, these are reissues that no one asked for; the cinematic equivalent of the Toyota Corolla. You will pay for the latest model because it looks new, but it has basically the same engine under the hood.
So you watch Bhramam, the Malayalam remake of Andhaduna, with a touch of awe. You know how things work; this is not your first rodeo. But before you roll your eyes at the cynicism of all this, you remind yourself that this is an honest exchange; Bollywood is getting the opportunity to split the most popular Tamil and Telugu hits twice a month, so why should the South Indian industry be held back?
Watch Bhramam’s trailer here:
But you cannot apply the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix” strategy to art. Bhram, like dozens of Indian remakes before him, has no meaning or purpose. It is not the public’s fault; we all know how willingly Indians will be to watch good international cinema, especially if it has something to do with Andhadun’s ancestry. These are the wines of producers who want to make money quickly.
There is nothing wrong with the pursuit of money. But if money is all you need, why make films? Why not sell Toyota Corollas?
So you sit and play – yes, Bhram is on. Amazon Primebut, as you will discover in a little over an hour, it has a well-defined interval point. And then you will have memories almost immediately. Not the nicest one. Those that annoy you, hazy memories; incorrectly remembered memories; frighteningly vague details. You’ve seen it all.
Watching Bhramam is like completing the same long survey twice, because your computer crashed the first time and you lost all the damn data. But the girl you like is the one who sent it to you and you agreed to accept it. This is for some reason that you pretend to be very interested. Now you cannot retreat. So you take a deep breath and start over again, mechanically typing in the same answers that you pondered over an hour ago (you didn’t mean to look stupid). It will be over soon, you tell yourself.
But “it” takes two and a half hours. You ask yourself how this is possible. The first time you went through it 15 minutes faster, and this time you didn’t even think about it. And then it dawns on you – these should be songs.
Bhramam is actually a frame-by-frame rework of Andhadhun, which will be a waste of time for anyone who has watched the original, and a poor representation for those who have not. I know this sounds contradictory – how can something be an exact copy, but still worse?
And here we get to the technical details. Bhramam replaces the CGI rabbit at the start of Andhadhun with the CGI boar. The rabbit, if you remember, was clearly missing an eye, but the boar in Bhramam – Bhramamboara, if you will – appears to have both eyes, thereby depriving the film of important symbolism in the very first scene.
The second is egregious – no pun intended – the difference lies in the casting. You could forget it Radhika Apte was in Andhadhuna, but it is not her fault and not yours. Taboo mainly promoted this film with what Nawazuddin Siddiqi would call “Failnaia.” There was a reason why director Sriram Raghavan shot Taboo, who in this role is noticeably older than Ayushmann Hurran. But in Bhram, Mamta Mohandas, who plays the same character, is significantly younger than the star Prithviraj Sukumaran.
Sukumaran, who played a diametrically opposite character in the recent film “Kuruti”, is simply devoid of Ayushman Khurrana’s cunning. Say what you like, but behind this smile, constantly reflecting on his face, something is happening, and until now only Raghavan has been able to penetrate the dark side of his personality. But in Bhramam, Sukumaran plays the blind pianist Ray Matthews, no nuance.
These changes range from arbitrary to completely incomprehensible. The question arises: why do they at all, given the general ease of the enterprise? And if making changes has always been on the table, why not do something that will really improve the movie, or at least differentiate it from what has already been done? Fort Kochi could have played a more prominent role in the film; it is definitely more cinematic than the Maharashtra jumble of cities in which Raghavan filmed Andhadhun, but director Ravi K. Chandran hasn’t done enough research into the location.
It also doesn’t try, even a little, to play with the established structure. Remember, travel was the most fun in Andhadhuna; it was a movie that put all the cards on the table and deliberately revealed the twists and turns of the game at a very early stage.
Bhram, however, is ultimately a huge waste of time and a step in the wrong direction for branch which consistently works at a higher level than any other in the country. You will be overwhelmed by its gentleness.