cast: irrfan khan, kirti kulhari, arunoday singhdirector: abhinay deorating: 1.5 stars (out of 5) first warnings what the audience understands about abhinay deo’s blackmail is a disclaimer before the film begins, informing us that “plastic simulated fish were used in the shooting”. As intriguingly worded as that statement is, it doesn’t tell us that these fictional fish were evidently meant to be the movie’s audience as well. This is a tough movie to enjoy for anyone who has seen a movie before, though I’ll take a chance and bet the plastic dummy fish may even have a little fun with this movie. the rest of us can only wish for a shot. Blackmail doesn’t look like a real movie to begin with. the cinematography is sloppy, the lighting poor, the colors miserable. the general vulgarity is so pronounced that it seems intentional, as if the filmmakers are trying to show us life through the teary eyes of the miserable protagonist, but things remain shoddy even when he’s not on screen. in fact, they get worse, because the hero of the impasse is irrfan khan, incapable of giving a bad performance. when he is not there, only the fictional fish remain.
somewhere, as a one line idea, the plot is promising. a toilet paper sales executive lives a despondent life and one night finds his wife in bed with another man. he doesn’t know what to do, being a non-violent person, and impulsively decides to blackmail the other man. this opens up a can of worms with all the characters jumping aboard the blackmail bandwagon, a setup that should lead to some unpredictable twists and turns. it’s good material for a black comedy, but it requires finesse, pacing, or at least a convincing style. blackmail abandons all this, and instead gives us a day singh with a dagger up the ass. Khan brings the cuckolded hero to life, giving him the hectic sprint of a man who doesn’t know how to run, and making his habits of voyeurism seem real, even affectionate, though Deo, who once ran the thunderous Delhi Belly, recklessly tries to shock us with some ludicrous scenes involving khan as a pathological, groan-worthy masturbator. scenes that don’t push the envelope as much as they get dirty. Half of the film involves Khan wishfully imagining killing other characters, a hypothetical device the film infuriatingly often leans on, a justifiable sentiment given the tedium of the script and the characters.
Making sense is too much to ask. all a film with an intricate plot has to do is add. blackmail, which begins with a long list of the hero’s various cash needs, and features a cut-down fight club photo where various household items bear price tags, he soon forgets his own math. Suddenly everyone is blackmailing everyone else and this is happening too easily, with some blackmailers having no evidence yet getting paid, while the cops who uncover evidence conveniently walk away telling the culprits they will be back to arrest them. later. There are some up-and-coming characters, like a private detective played by the ever-funny Gajraj Rao, or a domineering drunk played by Divya Dutta, but these actors are beaten down by those around them. the rest are unbearable. omi vaidya appears wanting to sell three-ply toilet paper with “Russian blondes”. Arunoday Singh initially seems well played as a galot, and cluelessness is a good color for him, but the film demands too much of him. the biggest disappointment is pradhuman singh, who played a memorable osama clone in the hilarious tere bin laden. here he plays an obnoxious friend of the hero, the guy who is aware that bhabhi is the whatsapp flavor of the week, a guy who says the word “bhaisaab” like it’s a paragraph in itself. it’s a scene-stealing part, but the acting, like this movie, is flat and forced.
blackmail is such a bland movie that I missed the vishesh films logo, because those guys would have had the fun of a b-movie with something so meaty and convoluted. emraan hashmi would make a great meal out of that best friend part. furthermore, the resulting pritam/arijit soundtrack would have been much better than the repetitive raps in this film, rhyming songs that baba sehgal would have rejected out of laziness.