Sriram Raghavan is back on the director’s chair with this week’s release Andhadhun. From the trailer, it looks like the film is about a visually challenged man who gets embroiled in a murder case. Showcasing mystery on the silver screen is one of Raghavan’s strong suits and we have seen him do that successfully in his previous ventures.
While the director has tasted success with films like Badlapur, his debut Hindi film Ek Hasina Thi still remains etched in the memory of film lovers.
Ek Hasina Thi stood out amongst its contemporaries when it released in 2004. This was the year when Pritam’s signature tune of Dhoom was the rage. Bollywood was witnessing its ‘sex sells’ phase with Julie and Murder but was trying to balance it out with the likes of Maqbool. In fact, this was the year when Saif Ali Khan was primarily seen as the romantic hero after Kal Ho Naa Ho and the actor also landed his National Film Award for Hum Tum.
In the sea of changing Bollywood dynamics, Ek Hasina Thi was a small but steady raft. Produced by Ram Gopal Varma, Ek Hasina Thi was a film that relied on strong storytelling. These were the years when RGV was still synonymous with good cinema and one could expect that the film would totally be worth the time and money if his name was attached to it.
The film’s story is about an unsuspecting Sarika (Urmila Matondkar) who falls in love with a conniving Karan (Saif Ali Khan). His devious plan lands her in jail, but we then see a vengeful woman who would do anything to make Karan pay.
Urmila was knocking it out of the park with every performance during those years and one could say that this was one of the early glimpses we saw of Saif being an experimental actor.
To this day, the film is remembered for its creepy climax that forces the viewer to watch the scene with their eyes half shut. To exact her revenge, Sarika takes Karan to a rat-infested cave, ties him up and leaves him to die. Sarika’s fear of rodents is a recurring factor in the film and the director even uses it when he wants to signal a shift in her personality.
In a segment for Rajeev Masand’s show on News18, Sriram Raghavan spoke about the scene and said that on paper, it sounded very illogical at first. The original ending they had planned would not have looked convincing on camera, so they decided to rework it and even while they shooting the film, they were yet to finalise the climax. Raghavan reminisces that RGV had told to shoot it convincingly. “Logic is nothing compared to the emotion of a scene,” is something RGV had told the director. Raghavan also credits the sound designers of the film in building the cringe factor of that scene.
Ek Hasina Thi released almost 14 years ago but the film has stood the test of time. The movie-going audience believes in Sriram Raghavan’s name and not all of that credit resides with Badlapur.