Taapsee Pannu is on the run yet again – this time from a mysterious man whom only she can see. Or not.
In Ajay Bahl’s Blurr, Pannu plays Gayatri, who has a degenerative disorder that will eventually rob her of her vision. Her twin Gautami had the same condition and had seemingly killed herself because of it.
Gayatri insists to her husband Neal (Gulshan Devaiah) that Gautami could not have died by suicide. Gayatri’s suspicions are boosted by scary visions and flash attacks from the unseen man, which always take place when Gayatri is alone.
The amazingly fleet attacker operates in a depopulated corner of a hilly town. Nature (Rain! Landslides!) colludes with the electricity board in escalating Gayatri’s dread. Meanwhile, neither Neal nor police inspector Chandel (Sumit Nijhawan) believes Gayatri, dismissing her fears as the result of anxiety over her impending loss of vision.
Blurr, which is out on ZEE5, is an effective remake of the Spanish-language Los Ojos De Julia (Julia’s Eyes) – which is to say that the Hindi version has imported the original film’s desaturated grey-green visual palette, slasher horror elements, and the plot holes into which viewers must fall before they can reach the truth.
Los Ojos De Julia was co-written by Oriol Paulo, an expert of pretzel-shaped twists that require total submission if they are to be savoured. Paulo’s own films The Invisible Guest and Mirage have been remade in Hindi as Badla and Dobaara, both starring Taapsee Pannu.
The remake, written by Ajay Bahl and his co-writer Pawan Sony, makes a few key changes to the source material. The fatalistic premise of Julia’s Eyes has been watered down to a woman-in-peril saga that allows its heroine to stand up for herself very late into the movie.
Forever knocking things over because of her poor eyesight and overwrought because of Neal’s scepticism, Gayatri does herself no favours by insisting on being independent and mobile. She drives a car in a downpour that would inhibit even a perfectly sighted person and doesn’t ask the questions that needs to be asked until it’s a bit too late.
Blurr demands that the brain shut itself down to allow the heart to pump faster than usual. In this regard, the film delivers.
Convincingly spooky moments are enhanced by Sudhir Chaudhary’s atmospheric camerawork. Blurr kicks into high gear once Gayatri faces her tormentor, moving smoothly into the home invasion thriller zone and finally giving its heroine something concrete to work with.
Pannu’s feisty screen persona makes her an odd fit for a scream queen. Compelled to play dumb and even spend a portion of the film blindfolded, the actor goes through Gayatri’s nerve-wracking fight for survival with as much physical energy as she can muster.
Apart from Gulshan Devaiah’s perpetually exasperated husband, Kritika Desai plays Gayatri’s gnomic neighbour. As Gayatri’s nemesis, Abhilash Thapliyal does a fine job of dialling up the chills.