Blind Movie Review: Sonam Kapoor Ahuja Can’t Light Up This Inert Thriller

Starring Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, Purab Kohli, Vinay Pathak, Shubham Saraf, and Lillete Dubey, the film is streaming on Jio Cinema
Blind Movie Review: Sonam Kapoor Ahuja Can’t Light Up This Inert Thriller

Director: Shome Makhija

Writer: Shome Makhija

Cast: Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, Purab Kohli, Vinay Pathak, Shubham Saraf, and Lillete Dubey

An orphan in Glasgow with a Sikh surname and Jesus on a crucifix dangling on her chest — this is Sonam Kapoor Ahuja as Gia Singh, a police officer, who was once top of her class, and now has not a hair out of place. One night, after yanking her rebellious brother (Danesh Razvi) out of a concert and driving him home against his will, she has an accident. She loses both her sight and her brother. The guilt of this loss looms over Blind. Gia is removed from the police force and spends her days in a neat loft, with her support dog Elsa. Her blind gaze stares out into nothingness while sharp red light from the neon sign outside her window pours over her to show Gia’s glossy, emotional disrepair against Glasgow’s melancholy cityscape. 

One night, The Driver (Purab Kohli) sees Gia waiting for a cab on a lonely street. He comes up to her, pretending to be a cab driver, but Gia’s suspicions are raised and she escapes. What we know and she doesn’t is that The Driver is a nameless serial killer who kidnaps and kills women. There is some psychosexual grunt underpinning this misogynistic bloodlust — something about his mother, his father, his childhood —  which the film tosses aside as irrelevant. What does he want from the women he targets? Who knows? That he kidnaps and kills relentlessly is enough for Blind.

Gia, having evaded the killer, reports this interaction to the police and with the help of investigating officer Prithvi Khanna (Vinay Pathak) and another witness, Nikhil Saraf (Shubham Saraf), she spends the remaining two hours of the film trying to nail The Driver. Nikhil becomes a brotherly surrogate; he has that same brashness of tone of her brother, which possibly helps Gia exorcise herself of her gnawing guilt. With neither context nor accent, all the victors and villains are Indians, crossing paths in Glasgow. The film, firmly in the present, does not care to establish the individual paths that led to this crossing. That they crossed should be enough. Though sometimes your curiosity slits through the film, to ask, is it really enough? 

Based on a Korean film by the same name, which was earlier remade with Nayanthara as the lead of Netrikann (2021), Blind struggles where the Tamil film excelled. The climax of Netrikann tied together the exorcizing of guilt and the resolving of the chase with an emotional knot, and to compare it to Blind is to see where Hindi cinema pales. If we do not even seem to know how to lay out a story, how to state it, how then do we resolve it? Netrikann, buoyed by Nayanthara’s striking presence, spun the thin plot into a fitting reply to the Tamil hero — here is a woman who is forced to both flex her brain and brawn, even as disability keeps tripping her up. 

Blind prefers a more neat, subdued approach, reducing the film to a mere chase. Debutant director Shome Makhija seems to be under the impression that his film is a meditative, grungy portrait of a broken woman who rises to an occasion. In an effort to posture profundity, every scene overstays its welcome, lingering for a few more seconds than it should. Closeups fray. This slow gait makes the shallow stride of the film more apparent. Gia has been flattened into her guilt. Every time she is alone, there is wallowing in flashbacks, quick dissolves, and old recordings of her brother. This guilt weighs heavily on the film because it becomes Gia’s singular defining trait. What interiority can you mine from such a steamrolled silhouette? 

Besides, Sonam Kapoor Ahuja’s cinematic presence is, as we have known it, glazed and leans towards excess. We are always aware that hers is a performance, that she hovers above a character instead of sinking under its skin. We can see the effort of performance in the way she grimaces, the self-conscious body language, a bookish delivery. Her action scenes in this film have the rhythm of kathak — if you pay close attention,  you might just begin to spot teen-taal in the thrashings. Nothing of Kapoor Ahuja leaks into the character except, perhaps, her grace. When she holds her hand to her mouth trying to muffle a cry, marvel at her long, thin fingers (so elegant and delicate) over her face contorting in ways that imply grief, but don’t necessarily evoke it. 

Makhija tries to pump life into this inert film through the soundscape instead, using sometimes jazz, sometimes rock. Rap makes an uneasy appearance. In one scene The Driver is playing the piano while a woman tries to escape from behind him, without making a sound. The staccato sounds of the piano — diegetic sound — suddenly brim when overlaid with a tense score — non-diegetic sound — till it becomes one. This little moment of innovation is gorgeous. Elsewhere a radio plays as men pummel one another. The film keeps reverting to these soundscapes to emphatically screech out the points it is unable to make through its visuals — either the crunch of the bones, the sound of flesh being lobbed off, or even a thing as simple, as essential as tension. Blind flatlines because the chase isn’t coherent or tight. Scenes wither into boredom. Characters blur into archetypes. Ultimately, unable to see the light, Blind stumbles over its own rudderless mediocrity.

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