This is #CriticalMargin, where Ishita Sengupta gets contemplative over new Hindi films and shows. Today: Sonam Kapoor Ahuja's Blind.
WITH Shome Makhija’s Blind, Sonam Kapoor Ahuja headlines a full-length Hindi film after four years. The good news is the actor gives an assured turn as a woman who loses her eyesight in an accident and yet is afflicted with guilt over something else. The bad news is the outing unfolds as a strangely dormant affair that barters complexities for archetypes.
Gia Singh (Ahuja) and her brother Adrian (Danesh Razvi) have grown up in an orphanage at Glasgow. They are not related by blood but feelings. When the film opens, she is informed by her mother, the caretaker of the orphanage (Lillete Dubey) that Adrian is at a music concert. This is a problem because he needs to study. Gia, a police officer by profession, drags her unrelenting brother from the pub. Midway, while they get into a scuffle, the car meets with an accident. Blood leaks from Gia’s eyes while Adrian lies dead.
Blind is an adaptation of the 2011 South Korean film of the same name. The Hindi retelling, much like the original, is a thriller centred on a serial killer on the loose who abducts and tortures women. The universal undertones of such a premise ensures it travels fast, despite cultural changes. After the accident, Gia loses her job and she is left subsumed in guilt. She lives in a sparse apartment with a dog as a companion. One day as she waits for a cab, a car stops before her offering a lift. While in it, she realises the driver is an Indian, wears a specific perfume she is familiar with. He offers her water, and she thanks him. And then, Gia feels a thud in the boot of the car as if someone has been entrapped. As she queries, he flees. The Driver (Purab Kohli) is the serial killer.
With some girls in the neighbourhood missing, Gia makes the connection soon. She goes to the police station and offers herself as a witness. Initially, the officer (a terrific Vinay Pathak) refuses to believe her. How accurate can a blind woman be? She proves them wrong, becoming a crucial part of the investigation.
As intriguing as this might sound, Makhija’s film quite never manages to translate the horror. For one, Blind remains too obtuse about the antagonist. We never know his name, which in the broader picture works. Given how rampant crime against women is, it really is incidental to get into the specifics. But for a thriller to work, some familiarity with the criminal is crucial. We only see what he does in parts. In one ghastly scene he breaks a girl’s nails, in the other he drags someone backwards. But the absence of a complete picture diminishes the dread of his presence. It also does not help that Kohli’s performance is caught at the crossfire of non-commital interest and creepy. There is a lack of urgency in his gait, like he is waiting to be discovered. Such a reading too would have worked if some subtext to his character was provided.
Then there is the problem of coincidence. All the important figures in the film happen to Indians. There is Gia, the police officer and another eye-witness (Shubham Saraf). The convenience with which this is arrived at, leaking to the unimaginatively staged fight sequences, reeks of narrative artifice, diluting the impact of the film to a large extent.
Blind is designed as a rare star vehicle for a female protagonist. Ahuja might not be the most obvious choice for it but her agile physicality and presence lend itself to and enliven the role. But she is hardly supported by a film that works overtime to reduce her — and the other characters — to a “type”. She is supposed to be guilt-riddled, while Pathak’s character is this perpetually hungry police officer who moves about with a food packet in his hand. Dubey is supposed to be a believer in god and Saraf’s character is depicted as a brattish young boy. They all come together for a film that is not deserving of their presence and our time.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of OTTplay. The author is solely responsible for any claims arising out of the content of this column.)