Blackmail: Good Premise Let Down by Inadequate Writing
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Director Abhinay Deo’s Blackmail isn’t a bad film. In moments, it does find a way to make you laugh through its dark humor. In fact, the premise it is set on is interesting to a point. But as time goes on and the pace begins to slow down, the film becomes predictable and uninteresting.
Dev (Irrfan Khan) is a middle class, middle aged man who works at a company that manufactures toilet paper. Slogging at a mundane job to pay-off monthly EMIs, he is quite unhappy with his life. One day, he returns home and finds his wife, Reena (Kirti Kulhari) in bed with another man. This incident drives him over to the darker side as he resorts to blackmailing his wife’s goofy lover, Ranjit (Arunoday Singh). The series of chaotic events that follows his acts of desperation forms the crux of the film.
Blackmail follows the same format of the director’s 2011 film, Delhi Belly. In the latter, a photographer ends up blackmailing his landlord and this leads to a chain of planned chaos. In the former, your average Joe resorts to blackmail, indirectly initiating a chain of blackmailing scenarios that involves each and every character in the film. This similarity in the screenplay of these films is the reason why Blackmail doesn’t feel fresh. Among the hundreds of dark humour stories that make their way into Bollywood, this film becomes just another one in the list.
The film begins in a promising manner. Director Abhinay establishes Dev’s mindset in quite a creative way in the beginning of the film. From here to the point where he resorts to blackmail, all goes well. But it is only when other characters are sucked into the mishaps does the film lose track of its goal.
In 2011, Delhi Belly’s humor was quite unique. But the same line of humor when used in a film like Blackmail nearly seven years later only disappoints the audience. Sure, a few moments bring about laughs but none of the comedy proves to be unforgettable. The comedy track featuring Dev’s Boss’ obsession with toilet paper is especially annoying.
To make things worse, the film’s running time drags on, forcing you to become impatient towards the end. The last forty minutes of the film are especially unbearable. In the first half, you appreciate the film’s non-judgmental approach to covering the wife’s affair. But Blackmail breaks this notion into pieces in Urmila Matondkar’s cameo song Bewafa Beauty in which most of the blame is placed on the woman while pity is kept aside for the man.
As Dev, Irrfan Khan is great. He takes an averagely written character and lends it a whole new perspective. From portraying suppressed anger to expressing himself in moments of utter desperation, Irrfan Khan exceeds in his portrayal of a frustrated middle-class man. In fact, beyond a point, the finesse of the actor is the only reason why you sit through the film’s predictable proceedings.
Kirti Kulhari receives a mediocre role but manages to make her character interesting by exhibiting shades of intriguing vulnerability. Her character, Reena, is written so hastily that is appears superficial. Her take on the proceedings is never explored.
The director scores in the development of certain characters though. Ranjit’s character for instance is funny. Arunoday Singh makes you laugh with the goofiness he brings to his character. A certain lady who sells guns and a detective with an outrageous wig too are quite amusing.
The beauty of these characters is their grey area. The director never intends for you to like these characters but you won’t hate them either. The villainous side of each of them is explored in the film in an uninhibited manner.
Jay Oza’s unique angles that expose the perverse side of Dev are perfectly in line with the theme of the film. Every time he peeks into his bedroom, creepy visuals indicate his notions. Oza’s visual language is responsible for retaining the authenticity of the director’s vision.
Amit Trivedi’s music has the right balance of quirk and eclectic notes to complement the dark premise of the film.
On the whole, Blackmail is your average dark comedy film. It is entertaining but after a point, it’s slow pacing and predictable plot fails to sustain your interest.