Bhramam, the official Malayalam remake of Andhadhun, is set to release on Amazon Prime Video on October 7. This is the second version of the black comedy thriller to release within a span of three weeks after the Telugu remake Maestro was released earlier this month. A Tamil version titled Andhagan is also under production. Yet, the trailer of Bhramam has managed to create intrigue with a tone that is distinct from the Hindi original, with a more colourful palette and a playful mood. In a conversation with TNM, renowned cinematographer Ravi K Chandran, who has directed Bhramam, talks about his second directorial venture that comes after a gap of seven years, his approach towards remakes, how he feels responsible towards an increasingly more informed audience, and more.
Sriram Raghavan’s Andhadhun, which was released in 2018, was a massively successful, critically acclaimed film. The film’s clever writing and ambiguous ending were widely discussed and analysed. Yet, Ravi says he isn’t too bothered about predictability with Bhramam. “This is not like a whodunit, that would be a different kind of film. Since it’s a black comedy, it can fit into any language. That is why it is being made in multiple languages,” he says. He points out that films like Arjun Reddy have seen huge success even with their remakes. Ravi himself has worked on several remakes as a cinematographer, including OK Jaanu, Adithya Varma, and the upcoming Bheemla Nayak. “I have worked on many successful remakes myself. The Hindi remake of Ghajini was a big blockbuster,” he notes, adding that it’s all up to the audience’s perception and response.
He recalls his experience working on the 1997 Hindi film Virasat, a remake of the Tamil film Thevar Magan, for which he won the Filmfare Award for Best Cinematographer. “Thevar Magan was brilliantly shot by PC Sreeram sir, but I did Virasat in a completely different style. While working on a remake, you refer to the original, but you don’t follow it to the tee. My lens is completely different from PC sir’s style of shooting, so I cannot copy him. It will never match. Even OK Jaanu, a remake of OK Kanmani, had a completely different style even with the same locations.” Speaking about the visual style of Andhadhun, shot by KU Mohanan, he says, “They used very few colours and shot it a little blandly, taking a very realistic approach. With Bhramam, we had a little more stylised way of shooting. So visually, it’s a completely different film,” he says.
Although a slew of remakes is being produced across languages, Ravi says that every remake is bound to have its own new flavour. “You cannot make the same kind of film no matter how hard you try. Even at the same location, we cannot create the same lighting. Everybody has a different rhythm. If SPB has sung a song, another person can sing it but can never match his style. Or, for instance, nobody can recreate my mother’s cooking because that’s her signature. I cannot direct like Sriram Raghavan, but Bhramam will have my flavour. In terms of colours, lensing etc., the two films are completely different, style-wise. Even when it comes to the music, the Hindi songs were a hit, but this is completely different music that he (Jakes Bejoy) has given. So, although the storyline is the same, it will still be a different film,” he says.
The Malayalam version has Prithviraj Sukumaran, Mamta Mohandas and Raashi Khanna reprising the roles played by Ayushmann Khurrana, Tabu and Radhika Apte in the original. The cast also includes Unni Mukundan and Shankar. Speaking about the actors, Ravi says that they have also brought in their own unique interpretations of their respective roles. “Prithviraj sir performed completely differently from the original. There is no shade of Ayushmann in this film, as his performance rhythm is completely different. Likewise, Tabu’s role is very difficult to copy, but Mamta has done her own take on it,” he says.
Watch the trailer of Bhramam:
While Ravi has worked extensively in the Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam film industries, he made his directorial debut in 2014 with the Tamil film Yaan. Being a Malayali and having started his career in Malayalam cinema made him choose a Malayalam film to direct, he says. Speaking about the experience, he says, “Yaan took almost two years to finish, whereas Bhramam was finished in about 35 days because Malayalam film set-ups are very quick and professional. Also since it’s a remake, it was a lot easier since we knew what exactly a scene demands, so it was easy to organise things.”
Although Hindi cinema has typically had a wider reach and is often considered synonymous with Indian cinema internationally, this is now changing, Ravi remarks, especially in the wake of the pandemic with many films available on OTT platforms. “There are so many good Malayalam films which would have never gotten this kind of attention, if not for OTT platforms. In earlier days, when I would suggest Malayalam films to people, they were not very accessible, but now most films are available on OTT. I would say there is huge respect for Malayalam films today all over India because of OTT,” he says.
Increasing access to technology has also turned audiences themselves into filmmakers and more informed critics, he notes. “Because of the digital revolution, the audience has changed a lot compared to the ‘90s. Anyone can shoot on a digital camera, edit on their computer and do everything themselves. The audiences have adapted, become filmmakers and critics. It’s a great thing, and makes you aware as a filmmaker of the additional responsibility to be really careful about what we make,” he says.