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Blurr review: An atmospheric whodunnit

Ajay Bahl's film starring Taapsee Pannu, a remake of a Spanish thriller, is an effective survival drama

Taapsee Pannu in 'Blurr'
Taapsee Pannu in 'Blurr'

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Ajay Bahl’s psychological thriller is a gripping remake of the 2010 Spanish language film Los Ojos De Julia (Julia’s Eyes). Adapted by Bahl and Pawan Sony, Blurr (Zee5) uses blindness, or lack of vision, as a metaphor. It talks of people who are invisible even while in plain sight, and those who live in the shadows, stumbling in a frightening darkness. The faceless, nameless ones, who are clamouring to be seen, will find a way for you to look them in the eye and acknowledge them. 

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Taapsee Pannu (who also produces) plays Gayatri and Gautami, twin sisters who are afflicted by a degenerative disease that will eventually render them blind. Unlike her sister, Gayatri can still see. When she awakes with a premonition, Gayatri and her husband, Neal (Gulshan Devaiah), rush from Delhi to her sister’s hill station retreat.

But when a sightless Gautami is found dead, apparently by suicide, Gayatri becomes suspicious. Her doubts gain credence as new and surprising pieces of information await her at every corner. But Neal is unconvinced.

Straight out of the basic psychological thriller handbook, most of the action takes place in a remote hill town which is drenched in thunderstorms and afflicted by landslides and power cuts. The palette is hues of greens, greys and blacks. There are barely any daylight scenes or outdoor locations. A smattering of neighbours, including Radha (Kritika Desai) and Ira (Nitya Mathur), seem to be harbouring dark secrets of their own.

Most of the events occur in Gautami’s house, where Gayatri, who is also progressively losing her vision, begins to sense a malevolent presence. Like her husband, the cops are also dismissive of Gayatri’s fears that she is being watched.

This time Pannu is not racing to a finish line (Rashmi Rocket) or running against time to save her boyfriend (Looop Lapeta). She’s running from a shadowy, violent figure who can hide in plain sight. She’s present in almost every scene, rarely smiling or relaxed, caught in a prison that is partially of her own making. The camera hardly moves away from Pannu’s face, finally going up close to reveal Gayatri’s tormentor.

Whether an artistic choice or as directed, Devaiah either plays Neal as the compassionate husband or a sinister observer, doing both equally well. Red herrings abound in Blurr to come together in a bloody encounter where Pannu, who gains sympathy as the grieving Gayatri first and then as the tortured woman without sight later, finds a fitting adversary in actor Abhilash Thapliyal. In a few scenes, Thapliyal makes a chilling impact, playing a character vastly different from his other remarkable performance as Roxy in the web series Faadu (Sony Liv).            

What the story of Blurr doesn’t fulfill, the camerawork (Sudhir K Chaudhary), production design, music (Ketan Soda) and sound design make up for. Bahl's film is an effective survival drama, high on atmospherics and genre tropes, but not a watertight whodunnit.   

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