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BLACKMAIL is quite good, but could’ve been much better!

With a keen eye for the absurdity that life throws at you every day, director Abhinay Deo (‘Delhi Belly’ Fame) presents this black comedy in his inimitable style. However, despite a promising start, the film lacks consistency and keeps sliding downhill till it reaches its overstretched  climax. It nevertheless deserves a watch for its unique treatment and Irrfan’s credible portrayal.

Dev (Irrfan Khan), a toilet paper salesman, in an attempt to spice up his rather monotonous and boring married life, returns home early one day, only to find his wife (Kirti Kulhari) in bed with her lover, Ranjit (Arunoday Singh). Perplexed, the man decides to do something unusual; he starts blackmailing Ranjit for money, leading to a series of outrageous yet hilarious events.

‘Quirky’ is the word to describe this film. The good thing is that unlike most other Bollywood films, it shows life with all its limitations, pits and flaws. Right from the first scene, where Irrfan’s character ‘Dev’ is introduced to us  – a man married for 7 years, who whiles his time till late in the office, has a distinct fetish with photos of other women – the tone is set for the film. It promises for some really funny moments in the minutes to come. However, just after an hour or so, BLACKMAIL loses steam and the vicious circle of blackmails, becomes repetitive and uninteresting. So much so, that in the last half hour, your patience is truly tested.

Having said that, there are several scenes that make you laugh and despite the extremely dark message that the film drives, you can’t help but accept it as the fact of life. Most things seem morally wrong, but that’s how life has become today. It shows how the hustle to survive makes you do things that you otherwise would never want to do. That’s why the title of the film shuffles between BLACK-MAIL and BLACK-MALE. There is relevance in most part. It’s the writing in the second half that loses the pace of things and starts getting draggy and monotonous, eventually ending in something that feels more like a forced justice, than poetic justice. The background score, helmed mainly by Amit Trivedi’s tracks, is terrific.

Of the actors, Irrfan Khan brings his character ‘Dev’ to life like no one else could’ve. His absolutely effortless performance makes all his roles so much more tangible. No matter how easy he makes it look, you do realize that this role required so much from him, which he delivers like an absolute pro that he is. Kirti Kulhari does very well, but sadly she’s hardly given any screen-time. Arunoday Singh is surprisingly good. His acting skills have honed, and he did portray the role in a very believable manner. Pradhuman Singh has the funniest lines in the film, and he plays his part well. Omi Vaidya playing Boss DK, is as funny as ever. Divya Dutta is passable. Urmila Matondkar’s comeback in an item number is a disappointment, firstly because it is irrelevant in the film and secondly because she doesn’t look even half as amazing as she used to look in her heydays.

In all, BLACKMAIL had the potential of being a “great” piece of cinema, but it ends up being only “good”. But even being “good” means it deserves a watch. P.S. – Suitable only for adults.

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