Director: Abhinay Deo
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Kirti Kulhari, Arunoday Singh, Divya Dutta
Rating: 3 Moons
"Marriage is a celebration in the villages, but in big cities it’s a regret,” announces a lethargic man, almost minutes after the curtains roll up, in a bid to set the mood for director Abhinay Deo’s dark comedy Blackmail. Where the old adage ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ is rehashed to expose how men have a far greater desire, and pleasure, for revenge.
So, we watch a surprisingly docile man, whose wife rightly describes him as “husband material”, feed his inner demons as he gets dragged into a twisted money racket that he had proudly designed.
It’s a ghastly world he lives in, one where love holds no meaning, and where greed and lust overpower even the most innocent minds.Writer Parvez Shaikh masterfully pitches one against the other and introduces a new player at every turn. There are no heroes or villains in here, just normal people who are unafraid and unapologetic, to devise and adopt immoral ways to escape the rut and make a quick buck in the bargain.
Jay Oza’s frames faithfully follows each life and frames their many idiosyncrasies and failings with aplomb. When a large billboard advert, sprawled across the roof of a plush Mumbai building, blanks out the “Win life… Wear your success” tagline to read “Life suc-s”, you can’t help but chuckle.
Irrfan Khan masterfully shoulders much of the madness and lends chaos and innocence to an obnoxious man who keeps a check on his growing EMIs, while attempting to fix his broken marriage. It’s incredible to watch him slip into Dev’s despicable life seamlessly. His moments of solitude and pleasure, inside the office bathroom while “cheating” on his friends and family is deviously written, and pitched perfectly to Amit Trivedi’s wicked tunes. Or, when he (literally) runs to match the beats of the soundtrack, as his world comes crumbling down, is truly epic.
Everyone else pales in comparison, barring new faces Pradhuman Singh and Anuja Sathe, who show promise but aren’t given much screen-time to shine. Arunoday Singh may be only a few films old but he manages to hold his own even when pitched alongside veteran Divya Dutta. Unfortunately, the writers aren’t as generous with Kirti Kulhari, who despite showcasing her brilliance in Pink, is left with little to do. The humour is clean, clever and spontaneous, barring Omi Vaidya’s world saving toilet roll act that falls flat.
Dev’s game of pac-man, on his computer screen and off it, is strangely fun, but one that demands your patience, especially when the second half turns a tad overambitious and unfortunately chaotic.
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