Sriram Raghavan's Andhadhun, released in 2018, is among the best black comedies to have come out in Indian cinema. Considering how widely it was watched in theatres when it was released, and the fact that it's available on Netflix with subtitles, the remakes that have come out and are in the pipeline seem unnecessary unless they offer new surprises either in terms of plot, interpretation or characterisation. What Anjali Menon did with Koode (remake of Happy Journey) or Dhilip Kumar with Maara (remake of Charlie), for instance. The remakes needn't have necessarily been better than the original, but at least, they offered something different in flavour.
Bhramam, directed by Ravi K Chandran, is set in picturesque Fort Kochi. The colours and the mood suit the absurdist premise of the film, lending it an air of whimsy. Ray (Prithviraj) is a pianist who's pretending to be blind because he finds it's easier to get work and cheap accommodation that way. If I remember right, in Andhadhun, the reason was less mercenary and had to do with Akash wanting to become a better musician. It's a small departure but perhaps explains Ray's devolution better. Prithviraj appears to have got his mojo back after stilted performances in Cold Case and Kuruthi. The actor is at ease as Ray, never overdoing the drama and shifting between the roles of cat and mouse believably.
Raashi Khanna plays Anna, a young woman who runs into Ray and falls for him. While she looks pretty, Raashi's dubbing is off sync in places and makes her character less impactful. The scenes between her and Ray seem forced and artificial. But the real letdown is veteran actor Shankar who appears as faded star Uday Kumar. He is distinctly uncomfortable in the role, and his scenes with Mamta Mohandas, playing wife Simi, score high on the cringe quotient.
Mamta, however, gets better as the plot progresses and her character finds herself neck-deep in the pit that she has helped dig. It's a tough act to follow Tabu, who played Simi in Andhadhun with such class and impeccable comic timing. Mamta puts up a fairly good show, particularly in her scenes with Prithviraj.
Unni Mukundan, Jagadish, Smini Sijo and Aneesh Gopal also do well in their respective roles. Ananya is funny as the clueless wife, making a mark within the limited screen time.
Watch: Trailer of Bhramam
While this is a faithful remake of Andhadhun, the dialogues have been adapted for the Malayalam version with some improvements. In one scene, for instance, Simi shoots back, "Do you think I'm Jolly to keep bumping people off?" Menaka, Shankar's heroine in several old films, makes a cameo, adding some fun for Malayalis who've watched scores of their films.
For someone who has already watched the original, however, Bhramam does not really offer much. You find yourself thinking back to the still memorable Hindi film, wondering how they did that scene and comparing it to the remake. It may not be fair to the remake, but it is what it is.
The film is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.