Taapsee’s strong performance powers through an intriguing premise gone kaput in a bogus third act, observes Sukanya Verma.
Taapsee Pannu’s affinity for atmospheric Spanish mysteries continues in Blurr, an official adaptation of Julia’s Eyes.
Earlier, Badla and Dobaara, both remakes of Spanish thrillers, The Invisible Guest and Mirage respectively, showcased her command over the genre.
As repetitive the gig sounds, Taapsee’s strong performance powers through an intriguing premise gone kaput in a bogus third act.
Where Badla had retribution on its mind and Dobaara entailed time travel, Blurr finds its groove in a tussle between blindness and basic instincts.
More psychological in its horror than literal, the fear of the unknown as well as the dangers it holds are explored in the intense ambience and glaring metaphors of Blurr.
The symbolism is conspicuous in the setting.
Blurr‘s action, concerning sisters suffering from degenerative vision, unfolds in Nainital, famous for its eye-shaped lake.
An otherwise populated, commercial tourist hotspot, the hill station wears a bleak, abandoned, bluish grey autumn face where wellness centres and five-star hotels operate like dry, dystopian spaces lending a chilly, depressing air to Ajay Bahl’s third film as director after B A Pass and Section 375.
Taapsee plays twins Gautami and Gayatri.
One is a blind musician and suspected to have taken her own life in their stonewalled Nainital abode, the other is an anthropologist in Delhi, rapidly losing her vision and refusing to buy a word of what the cops say.
Sleuthing on her own accord, much to her sympathetic but distant husband’s (a fine, restrained Gulshan Devaiah) dismay, Gayatri is certain of foul play.
But there are secrets and sneaky presences, supernatural or society made, waiting at every corner as she wanders deeper and deeper in the dark. (Is it worth the trouble, I later wondered, in absence of any seeming or suggested bond?)
Between the usual bouts of timely thundering, lightening, slamming doors, a hotel handyman who speaks in riddles and enjoys a bathtub, a partially visible male nurse on speed dial and ominous-looking neighbours ranging from a lonesome cat lady and a creepy father of a tongue-tied daughter, there are underlying themes about class, privilege and turning a blind eye in both metaphorical and literal ways.
More than the suspense though, it’s the moody ambience, boosted by stunning, stark compositions of stuffy homes drowning in antique furniture and floral wallpaper, statuesque architecture and claustrophobic passages that lends the thriller an actively smothered sensation.
All through this ordeal, Taapsee is a nimble mix of urgency and toughness.
Between scared stiff to striking terror, the nightmares endured by her and us keep the momentum going for a good measure until it’s time to let the cat out of the bag.
As if losing sight wasn’t bad enough, Blurr loses steam too.
All its cryptic cues, playing off on our curiosity using the usual thriller tropes and a preoccupation with see-unsee conundrum are still alright. But when the carefully concealed twists and dubious logic are finally revealed, it’s all too bizarre and underwhelming.
Once the atmosphere wears off, so does the deception.
All the loopholes of its fuzzy plot are as obvious as the silly judgement of characters going out of their way to invite trouble for the sake of manufactured thrills.
It’s not like the original was above this failing. Neither does the remake do anything to rectify it.
Ultimately, Blurr fumbles for want of sharper vision and ending.
Blurr streams on ZEE5.
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