‘Blind’ Is A Thriller Without Thrills
A weak cinematic interpretation of an interesting storyline
Not every feature film needs to present a blind character in the thriller genre because this is an extremely risky proposition. An excellent drama can be produced with a blind protagonist. Two excellent examples are ‘Oonche Log’ featuring Ashok Kumar as a blind ex-Defence officer and ‘Sparsh’ directed by Sai Paranjpye in which Naseeruddin Shah portrayed a head teacher in a blind school who is too proud of his physically challenged personality to accept any kind of help.
Yet, the most outstanding thriller with a blind protagonist this critic has viewed in her entire career is ‘Wait Until Dark’ where Audrey Hepburn plays a blind young woman who tries to save herself from a killer.
Shome Makhija directed ‘Blind’ is a remake of the 2011 South Korean crime thriller with the same name. It is shot entirely in Scotland, in what seems to be a single stretch. Purab Kohli plays a psychopathic serial killer, who is a gynaecologist by profession.
The film introduces the serial killer who first abducts young women, keeps them captive at a hidden place and subjects them to severe physical torture for some time before killing them. He is so polished that the police force fails to find out who the killer is.
The protagonist is Gia Singh (Sonam Kapoor), a cop who loses her vision completely, along with her wayward brother, in a freak car crash. The police force refuses to take her back into service because she committed the crime of handcuffing her brother to the car’s window which finally takes his life.
His death fills her with a deep sense of guilt. She lives away from the orphanage where she was brought up, with a small dog called Else who is her only friend and family now.
Her police skills are honed to near-perfection when, just through her other senses. She detects the sound of hands knocking inside the dickey of the car she has just alighted from and instantly links it to a young woman who has gone missing some weeks back.
The car she suspected was a taxicab but it actually belongs to the killer. She tries her best to convince the local police about her experience being real and finally, after much persuasion, she manages to convince the police inspector, Prithvi Khanna (Vinay Pathak), of her suspicions and he sets out to find the killer.
But the intelligent psychopath realises that the scent of his identity is getting linked to the missing young woman and the several young dead bodies found here and there. He decides to do away with Gia Singh thinking it will be a cakewalk to get the better of a blind young woman who just has a dog for company.
A youngster gets pulled to a poster of the missing girl while playing football and is pulled by the handsome reward offered to the one who helps the police find the killer. He recalls having seen something suspicious, but when he takes the story to the police, they refuse to take him seriously, as does Gia Singh, till he is found attacked following the brutal killing of Elsa and he is roped in into the investigation.
What ails the film is the way the director, script and even the technique treats the film too lightly for its own health. ‘Blind’ becomes a more metaphorical title than it was designed to be.
The first casualty lies in the terribly expressionless and robot-like performance by Sonam as Gia Singh, over the first half of the film. Her trying to stick to her independence despite her suddenly darkened world is fine, but in no way justifies her stone-like face and body language for the first half of the film.
Not a single muscle in her face moves, and her voice is also staccato especially when she keeps on insisting that God does not exist for her, much to the shock of her foster mother (Lilette Dubey) who runs the orphanage. In the second half, especially following the death of her dog, she does express emotions on her face and voice and this adds to the lack of logic in the entire characterisation.
Her expression of degrees of fear and growing panic is convincing. Besides, rendered without a job, one wonders how she manages to keep body and soul together.
Purab Kohli as the expert gynaecologist-serial-killer is cool, calculating and blood-curdling. But there is absolutely no logic in a serial killer planning his criminal life so well under the guise of his profession, through careful targeting of his victims. His plans somehow fail to match up with his pathological mindset.
Vinay Pathak as Prithvi Khanna is the only one who adds a lot of pep to the film with his well fleshed-out performance. His character keeps eating constantly, while being both serious and efficient as a police officer.
One commendable point that goes in favour of the film are the two different perspectives given by Gia Singh and the young boy about their own experiences of the killer and his car. This points to the difference in perspective that sustains between a visually capable person and a visually challenged one.
The cinematography is nothing great as the locations of a foreign city hardly offer anything new, and the editing is slipshod. The first handicap is that the character of Gia, both in terms of the script and the performance, fails to evoke much sympathy towards her predicament.
The second is that the killer’s backstory is too skeletally drawn for the audience to take a moral stand on his actions and give substance to his killing mindset. Third, ‘Blind fails’ to compel us to see through the eyes of the killer and the three characters committed to nab him. This film could have been much better than it has turned out to be.