Blurr still
Blurr still

Blurr review: Gulshan Devaiah and Taapsee Pannu do their best in a hazy thriller

Ajay Bahl’s film is high on twists, stereotypes and (a lot of) unearned darkness
Rating:(2.5 / 5)

2022 will be remembered as the year Taapsee Pannu starred in more remakes than Akshay Kumar. She began with Looop Lapeta, which—though enjoyably nimble and eccentric—was barely a patch on the philosophical density and cultural mileage of Run Lola Run. Then came Dobaaraa, spun from Mirage (2018), a sci-fi mystery about time and second chances. Released in August, the film was borne along by director Anurag Kashyap’s visual wit—Saswata Chatterjee as your un-friendly neighbourhood murder suspect, for instance—but not much else. (Oh, and lest we forget, there was also Tadka, a remake of the Malayalam-language Salt N’ Pepper, which was dropped with funereal quietness on ZEE5 and promptly forgotten).

Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Gulshan Devaiah, Abhilash Thapliyal, Kruttika Desai Khan

Streaming on: ZEE5

And now comes Blurr, Taapsee’s maiden production. Directed by Ajay Bahl, the film is adapted from the Spanish thriller Julia’s Eyes (Oriol Paulo, who directed the source films for Badla and Dobaaraa, is the original co-writer). Gayatri (Taapsee) wakes with a premonition, startled and out of breath. She announces that her twin sister, Gautami (also Taapsee), is in danger. Along with her husband, the trim and mild-mannered Neil (Gulshan Devaiah), Gayatri heads to her old house in the hills. Gautami, a ‘famous musician’, was shut in there for months — a victim of ‘progressive vision loss’, a gradual degeneration of the eyes leading to complete blindness.

When Gautami’s lifeless body is retrieved from the attic, the cops declare it a suicide. But Gayatri—who discovers the all-too-crucial detail of rap music blaring from Gautami’s sound system, a genre her sister mortally hated—cries foul. As she begins to investigate, her own eyesight starts to fail. She also senses a presence—a shadow? A stalker?—following her around. “Mujhe kuch laga tha, tabhi hum yahan pe hain na? (I felt something, that’s why we are here, no?” she tells Neil. It’s a relatively science-y take on the idea of ‘supersensors’—the Daredevil-ish notion that people with vision loss develop heightened peripheral senses and instincts.

Blurr was shot in Uttarakhand, in places like Ramgarh and Nainital. Cinematographer Sudhir K. Chaudhary fashions an oppressive grey-green palette and sticks to it. The moodiness is doubly enhanced by the rumbling score. My issue, however, is with the gallery of suspicious-looking locals who populate the world of this film. Gayatri is a ‘maanav vigyaanee’ or ‘anthropologist’, a title Ajay and co-writer Pawan Sony cannot claim for themselves. There is a scary old lady with a cat, an anxious teenager in braids, a smiling good samaritan with an umbrella and side-parted hair. These could be important characters or potential red herrings. Yet, the way they are introduced—all those grimly exoticized faces talking in riddles, including a posse of blind women at a wellness centre—and strategically inserted along Gayatri’s journey left me feeling quite uncomfortable.

Neil is no less a ‘type’, but Gulshan Devaiah, looking handsome in jeans and turtlenecks, makes him worthwhile. One of these days, I’ll write a thesis on how the actor underplays with his voice, mouthing predictable dialogue with unexpected tones and cadences. Taapsee, an actor best appreciated—and assessed—in motion, does well with her gritty central turn. The couple of chases in the film come alive with a spark I found missing in the dramatic scenes. The climax is satisfyingly bloody, if entirely illogical and absurd. The villain’s motivations, when we finally get to hear them, are just as laughable. Also, who ends a film with a rap song after dissing on the genre in an earlier scene?

As a thriller, Blurr has a certain oneness of purpose, but it’s not the clearest of films.

Cinema Express