By: Omair Alavi
What would you or a friend of yours do if they found out that their wife was having an affair during the time he was working in his office? Would you not confront that guy first and later the wife for being unfaithful? Or you would want to compete with that other guy by being a better version of yourself. In Abhinay Deo’s Blackmail, the bereaved husband does neither yet takes a revenge in his own way – Blackmail, hence the film’s name.
Dev (Irrfan Khan) is a salesman – a toilet paper salesman to be exact and loves his work but doesn’t love his wife Reena (Kriti Kulhari). One evening he takes off early from work but when he reaches home, he finds out that his wife is having an affair with her ex-lover Ranjit (Arunoday Singh) who lives on his rich wife Dilly’s (Divya Dutta) money. Dev tries to cash in the opportunity and sends a blackmail note to Ranjit who in turn blackmails his mistress who asks Dev for the money on false pretence. Add a demanding boss, an irritating friend, the new girl in his life, a picture thief and incompetent police and you get a perfect blend of a crime thriller that is so black that it’s witty.
The film is packed with powerful performances, amazing direction and a screenplay that keeps you on your toes. Irrfan Khan is top-notch in every scene and makes you believe that his middle-class, middle-aged life is as bad as it seems. Arunoday Singh as the antagonist is superb and for the first time since Main Tera Hero has he looked this good in a character. He hates reading Hindi in Roman, he hates being called Tommy by his wife, he hates being ridiculed by his father in law and he hates being in trouble. Although Kriti Kulhari and Divya Dutta are pivotal to the plot, they don’t have that much to do onscreen and that’s the reason they only appear in patches where they impress nonetheless.
Irrfan Khan is in every other scene in the film and that’s a good thing because the whole story revolves around his character. However, this way the other characters suffer considering before the interval, they don’t have much to do. After the intermission, the film picks up the pace but not before as you get introduced to the characters, their strengths, their weaknesses and their motives. And yes, Omi Vaidya as the boss is as irritating as it could be and the sooner he realizes that 3 Idiots was released a decade back, the better. The toilet humour could have been avoided altogether and that’s one of the reasons why this film fails to become a blockbuster. The songs in the movie are one-time listenable but that’s how most of the songs in films are these days.
THE VERDICT 3/5
Blackmail may remind you of Delhi Belly (the director’s first project) but he has toned down the black humour and use his witty side more. The protagonist is shown to be confused yet manipulative and that’s what keeps the audience involved. You don’t leave the cinema dissatisfied because the good triumphs over the evil and those who deserve a bad end, get just that. How does that happen is what the film is all about. Go ahead and enjoy Blackmail, you will never want to surprise your loved ones after that!
Story first published: 12th April 2018