Blackmail movie review: Irrfan Khan, Divya Dutta’s black comedy is refreshing
Director: Abhinav Deo
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Arunoday Singh, Omi Vaidya, Kirti Kulhari
Two men inside their office washroom talking about their colleague:
A: Wo date ke liye maan gai.
B: Kya plan hai?
A: Wahi. Apne bar le jaunga, ek Coke ke saath do large vodka mix kar ke pilaaunga aur fir...
B: Isko rape kehte hain.
It is refreshing to see a Bollywood movie where misogyny and lack of consent are called out, even in an all-male zone.
Abhinav Deo’s Blackmail offers several similar moments to cherish and celebrate. The Delhi Belly director is back with yet another black comedy and he has a novel story and some wonderful actors – Irrfan Khan, Divya Dutta Kirti Kulhari and Arunoday Singh -- to support him in the endeavour.
An average middle class man reaches home early one day to find the wife with another man in the bed. Instead of confronting them, he decides to blackmail them, triggering a chain of blackmailing scenarios and subsequent hilarious situations. Irrfan plays the protagonist Dev Kaushal while Kirti is his wife and Arunoday Singh essays her boyfriend’s role.
Except for a few, most twists in the plot of Blackmail are unexpected and keep up with the mood of suspense even as the characters tickle our funny bone with their situational comedy.
When Irrfan’s Dev realises his wife is cheating, he thinks of various scenario - killing her, killing the boyfriend - but then settles down for a more practical revenge. The boyfriend is married to a corporator’s daughter, so Dev blackmails him for some money. How much? Well, that is a deft calculation of Dev’s EMIs and basic household expenses, nothing more!
Irrfan Khan effortlessly plays the role of a mean, wicked man who disguises himself as meek and average in front of everyone else. He is also the man who steals pictures of people’s wives from their work desks and masturbates to them in the office washroom when everyone has left for the day. And we see this at least every 20 minutes in the movie! While Kirti and Arunoday are apt for their characters, it is Divya’s Adita - who plays Arunoday’s wife - who becomes a parallel pillar of performance to Irrfan’s Dev.
Abhinav creates a side track in the film with Dev’s boss, essayed by Omi Vaidya. He heads a company that makes toilet paper and this is just one piece of his wisdom about the product and its relevance: “Jis Desh me peene k liye paani nahi, waha dhone k liye paani kaha se aata hai. But then I realised it is about the touch... of hands. So we have made our product super soft,” Omi says right before asking his employees to rub the paper on their cheeks to feel it!
Sample some other gems by Omi:
“Jet spray, typical middle class invention... it’s disgusting! Aim hi karte raho.”
“The third World War will be fought for water and the only thing that will save it is toilet paper.”
Abhinav also ensures the right and realistic layers of middle class and office lives. Instead of a raise, Dev’s boss gives him more work -- the working class will definitely find the film resonating with their lives.
If there is one thing that offers roadblocks in this otherwise fun ride, it is the slow pace with which Abhinav establishes his plot and characters. The initial one hour seems stretched as the story hardly moves in this period. It is only towards the second half that Blackmail picks up pace.
However, the performances, fun filled and realistic story-telling keep you engaged and entertained.