This Article is From Dec 09, 2022

Blurr Review: Taapsee Pannu Headlines Nifty Crime Drama Without Missing A Trick

Blurr Review: The film never loses sight of its primary purpose - delivering a thriller that makes the most of its resources while staying within its chosen parameters.

Blurr Review: Taapsee Pannu Headlines Nifty Crime Drama Without Missing A Trick

Taapsee Pannu in Blurr. (courtesy: taapsee)

Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Gulshan Devaiah

Director: Ajay Bahl

Rating: Three stars (out of 5)

Invisibility and impaired vision - one does not flow into, or from, the other but they do intersect in significant ways - are two key plot elements in Blurr, a taut, tense psychological thriller centred on a woman battling progressive eyesight loss and personal tragedies.

Faced with a scenario that quickly spins out of control, the protagonist stumbles, falls, runs into obstacles, and weaves in and out of dark corners in a struggle to ward off bodily harm. Her worsening plight and her responses to the danger that swirls around form the crux of the two-hour film.

Blurr does not break new ground in the thriller terrain, but it never goes off the boil either. Director Ajay Bahl (B.A. Pass, Article 375) and cinematographer Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary create a grey, subdued palette that approximates the growing dimness within and around the beleaguered central character - she is 'central' in the truest sense of the word, the camera is always on her face, capturing every emotion, every twitch, every sign of alarm.

She is an anthropologist (her calling has no bearing on her fate, though) who is running away from a threat that she cannot catch clear sight of or fully comprehend. She labours to crack the mystery of the death of her twin sister. It is a daunting task.

Taapsee Pannu, who is also the film's producer, headlines the nifty crime drama without missing a trick. Streaming on Zee5, Blurr, a remake of a Spanish thriller, is the first offering from the actor's new-fangled production banner Outsiders Films. It is a strong enough genre movie, assiduously designed and well-acted, to indicate that she and her company have the right ideas.

Blurr is packed with twists and turns that hit home with a fair degree of force. The film isn't hemmed in by its crime thriller antecedents. While not overly deviating from the norms of the form, it presents a larger view of human frailties and failings and what it means to live in the shadow of insignificance, especially when one has had to reckon with a tortuous, mentally scarring upbringing. That is where the malevolent, sociopathic force that the heroine is up against comes in.

Amid the unrelenting darkness that has the film in a tight embrace, Taapsee Pannu shines bright as she slips with striking ease and efficiency into the skin of a woman in steadily increasing physical and emotional distress. She fleshes out a character with whom you instantly empathise not only because of her obvious state of vulnerability but also owing to her unswerving tenacity and temerity.

Interestingly, Blurr is the third Taapsee Pannu starrer after Badla(2019) and Dobaara (2022) that has been adapted from a movie by Spanish screenwriter-director Oriol Paulo. Badla and Dobaara were remakes of The Invisible Guest and Mirage, both directed by Paulo. Blurr is based on Julia's Eyes, a well-received 2010 film co-written by Paulo and produced by Guillermo Del Toro.

Set in an Uttarakhand hill town where nothing seems to stir until a big, ominous gust of wind hits it, Blurr kicks off with what appears to be a suicide. A sightless Gautami (Taapsee Pannu), who lives alone, takes her own life. In Delhi, her twin, Gayatri (Pannu), wakes up from a bad dream that serves as a premonition of the calamity.

She and her husband Neel (Gulshan Devaiah, solid despite limited scope) rush to Gautami's home in the hills. There, they find her body hanging from the ceiling. The local police, in a hurry to close the case, conclude that Gautami died by suicide. Gayatri is determined to prove that her sister was murdered. She begins to dig for the truth.

Gautami, a musician, was a loner and had no friends. But Gayatri feels a couple of her sister's neighbours, each as strange as the other, might be able to provide crucial information that could help her get to the bottom of things. She finds a few leads, and dead-ends, as she ferrets around.

The film, which has virtually no scene without Gayatri at its core, is about a pair of eyes that are gradually losing their power to see. The camera is more often than not trained on a face - Gayatri's - while the people around her are either out of the frame or are only partially visible. The mountains and the winding roads are a physical presence, but they do not loom large over the images. The film is shot primarily in cramped, dimly lit interiors surrounded by dull, daunting walls.

These spaces collectively constitute a disquieting bubble that traps and terrorises the central character. The world outside is shut out because she o sees less and less. But her ability to sense what is going on around her intensifies and evolves into her only shield, however feeble, against a mysterious predator.

When the action does occasionally move out into the open, what is visible of the landscape is enveloped in thick mist, sheets of rain, dense floating clouds or just a pall of obscurity. The film explores with equal acuity the perils of not being seen and not being able see.

Loss of vision is perceived, from one standpoint that is crucial to the unravelling of the secrets that hover in the background, as a metaphor for the propensity of an uncaring world to turn a blind eye to those that are doomed to languish in anonymity.

Gayatri can sense a presence of an intruder in the house and its immediate vicinity but her husband dismisses her fears as a figment of a febrile imagination. The couple recalls their happier days but there isn't any room in the film for rhythm-breaking flashbacks and gratuitous romantic interludes. The screenplay by Pawan Sony and the director makes it a point not to let in anything that could diminish the film's grip and dilute the intensity of the drama of survival.

Blurr uses its hill town setting in a manner that is far removed from how Mumbai genre movies usually treat the hills and the clouds that cast a shadow on them. The town and its environs serve as an evocative location that mostly stays off camera, encouraging the viewer to anticipate, in the way the harried protagonist herself does, what lies beyond the confines of a house frequently enveloped in darkness.

Blurr never loses sight of its primary purpose - delivering a thriller that makes the most of its resources while staying within its chosen parameters - and delivers thrills and intrigue every split second of the way. It is a solid genre movie that is well worth a watch.


Taapsee Pannu, Gulshan Devaiah