Blackmail

wogma rating: Even the keen, wait for it to come on TV/online (?)

quick review:

Too convoluted, too long, too slow together make a potentially interesting and fun thriller barely bearable.

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Director: Abhinay Deo
Running time: 140 minutes
More Movie Info

Blackmail’s trailer indicates that it could be a quirky movie with weird plot twists that movies with crime-gone-wrong usually have. Blackmail is wacky and has those weird plots. But, the zany business is not all good and the plot gets too convoluted. The other stuff is slow, repetitive and even derisive. That leaves you with the interesting one-line plot – a dull and bored man finds out his wife is cheating on him and decides to blackmail the wife’s lover who in turn blackmails the wife (yes, his lover), with a few other blackmailers thrown in.

It actually squeezes out ounce-by-ounce all the interest you came in with because of the trailer and/or the lead actor.

When expanded, this plot is intentionally filled with ludicrous situations and reactions that want to get a laugh out of you. But, as a person who never understood adult comedy or toilet humor (unless it’s the Piku kind), it is very difficult for me to find masturbation or an obsession with toilet paper funny. Maybe the former is with an intention to point fingers at how real life is for some men but it is too repetitive and thus predictable, for it to be satirical either. Same goes for the relentless objectification and misogyny.

Even so, if the movie had been crisper and pacier, the one-line plot might just have worked. It doesn’t help that plot-wise, almost everything that happens until interval, is what you already know from the trailer!

While the dialogue is not entertaining or engaging, as a saving grace in the writing department Dev, the protagonist’s (Irrfan Khan) lines are conspicuous by their absence. The man has no more than 20-25 lines in the movie. It must take credible restrain for a writer to let the actor take over without their help. And anyone who has seen his work would know what a treat such a character can be when its played by the likes of Irrfan Khan.

So, Dev comes across as creepy within the first few minutes of the film. This is Irrfan Khan who has recently announced that he might be diagnosed with something serious. Yet, the man makes you cringe with his onscreen depiction of a person with a distasteful habit. Enough for you to not empathize with him for being cheated on by his wife.

Other than the fact that all other actors are likely to fall pale when compared to this performance, it doesn’t even feel like any of them are trying. We have seen Gajraj Rao, Divya Dutta and Omi Vaidya play characters similar to these – quirky, drunken loud and annoying – respectively, for us to remember them in this particular film. Kirti Kulhari wears the same expression through and through. The only standout then would by Arunoday Singh who does his usual dumb, goofball act in the first half, but later in the film he has one scene which takes him beyond anything we have seen him do so far.

The music that is used well in the first half hour or so becomes repetitive and tedious through most of the run-time thereafter. Not to mention the item number lengthens and slows down the film by that much more.

Blackmail is wacky and has those weird plots. But, the zany business is not all good and the plot gets too convoluted.

Blackmail spends too much time to introduce its protagonist and takes too long to establish its basic premise. It actually squeezes out ounce-by-ounce all the interest you came in with because of the trailer and/or the lead actor. It is the kind of film that is not interested in you liking any of the characters, they are all rather nasty people. Is that what the makers are saying, there are no nice people in the world? But, to say that they had that thought behind the story, I would be giving too much credit to them.

- meeta, a part of the audience

31 reviewers(?) - 12 yays 11 so-so 8 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, BLACKMAIL is quite an unconventional entertainer and a good black comedy. It may not have a pan India appeal but the target multiplex audience are sure to enjoy this flick. The costs of this film are reasonable and as a result, it’ll turn out to be a profitable venture for its producers. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Ankita Chaurasia , Bollywood Life : ...Watching Blackmail is like riding a roller-coaster – you don’t know as to what will happen next but the mere thrill of it is enough to make you hop on. With so much amusement, it is no wonder that you don’t want the ride to end. It would be criminal to miss this one. An absolute must-watch! ... full review

Thumbs up, by Meena Iyer, DNA : ...Just go for it. You will be grinning for the most part. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...Irrfan is effortlessly at ease in a role that has him playing patsy while enshrining the diabolical within. Kirti Kulhari makes a definite impact without being too obvious about it. Arunoday Singh may have the weakest role here, but he delivers what his director expected of him with aplomb. Divya Dutta, the most underrated actress in Hindi cinema today is definitely the best thing to happen to Blackmail, after Irrfan. She is so natural here that it’s difficult to see her as anything but… a drunk, dominating shrew. This black comedy may have started off in grubby everyday monotony but when it picks up midway through its runtime, it packs enough of a punch to make you forget the ennui. ... full review

Thumbs up, Gulf News : ...Blackmail is a virgin territory in the comedy genre. It is heady and hedonistic, cocky and compelling in the way the comedies of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee used to be. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Sweta Kaushal, Hindustan Times : ...However, the performances, fun filled and realistic story-telling keep you engaged and entertained. ... full review

Thumbs up, by NILESH RAMCHANDANI , Kia Gia : ...On the whole 'Blackmail' is an entertaining whodunit; the unique thing about it, is everything is revealed beforehand yet the mysterious element is maintained till the end. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...Certain movies demand certain audience, if you can digest movies without unnecessary masala, to for it.... full review

Thumbs up, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...In a scene, a man has his father-in-law’s iron clasp gripping his nether region. He intermittently tightens his grip to threaten the quivering mortal, while his wife peels an orange sitting beside him. Blackmail does pretty much the same — it has you by your balls, threatens and taunts and at the end of 139 minutes, you exit cupping your twins in relief. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Prasanna D Zore, Rediff : ...Blackmail's settings are grim, dark, comic and capricious, but one misses the directorial chutzpah that Deo showcased in his 2011 film Delhi Belly. ... full review

Thumbs up, Sify Movies : ...Blackmail is a virgin territory in the comedy genre. It is heady and hedonistic, cocky and compelling in the way the comedies of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee used to be. If only these veterans could see the sexiness that underlines all gender wars. Blackmail is a closeted Hrishikesh Mukherjee comedy with oodles of extra voluptuousness. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Rachit Gupta, Times of India : ...The plot of Blackmail is its hero and it manages to strike a good balance between dark and funny. Characters are bumped off, sometimes in most gory detail and strange events unfold, but the film never loses its vein of easy, black humour. This is one of the most wickedly funny films that we’ve seen in a long time. ... full review

So-So, by Anna MM Vertticad, annavetticadgoes2themovies : ...You know times have not changed enough when the non-judgemental tone of the film suddenly, without a perceivable progression leading up to that point, turns selectively judgemental towards the woman and sympathetic towards the man with Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics of Bewafa beauty. Sample this: Kul mila ke saiyyanji ke / Achchhe sanskaar thhe / Sajaniya ke lakshan lekin / Thhode tadipaar thhe... (Very roughly: He was, by and large, a nice guy with the right values / she was the sort to go astray.) ... full review

So-So, by Deepa Gahlot, cinemaah : ...The righteous wickedness (a cuckold has the right to a dash of revenge!) of the first blackmail wears out only too soon, and the film goes downhill from there on. Only Irrfan manages to keep it somewhat watchable. ... full review

So-So, by Anupama Chopra, Film Companion : ...Abhinay clearly has a keen eye for the darkness and absurdity of daily life but Blackmail isn’t sparkling enough to sustain interest.... full review

So-So, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Summing up, watch this adult comedy for the performances of its ensemble cast and some true ribald scenes... ... full review

So-So, by Prema Prakash, fullhyd.com : ...On the whole, Blackmail makes you wonder if Abhinay Deo actually had a fully-formed plot and story, or just a half-baked idea that he directed to perfection with dark frames and dark humour and passed off as a film. It is certainly not a patch on his previous attempt at the genre, Delhi Belly. ... full review

So-So, by Suhani Singh, india today : ...Unlike Deo-directed Delhi Belly! Blackmail's black comedy lacks pace and absurdity for viewers to be entirely sold to the events. Plot contrivance comes in as all characters indulge in blackmailing far too easily and with little repercussions. You stick around for the Irrfan show and he doesn't disappoint. ... full review

So-So, by UDITA JHUNJHUNWALA, Live Mint : ...Though it has a sizzling set up and some smart dialogue written by Pradhuman Singh Mall, Blackmail soon descends into silliness, a fallout of the lack of smarts displayed by all the characters, an overstuffed screenplay and some slack editing. Screenwriter Parveez Sheikh and Deo have no intention of preaching (though there are subtle digs at the advertising industry) or providing a neatly tied-up morality lesson. It’s enjoyable to see each successive character reveal their grey nature, but in the end, the only person you root for is Dev. Irrfan uses his craft to quietly draw you into Dev’s frustration, his eyes and body language conveying a multitude of emotions. His lead turn is the highlight of Blackmail. ... full review

So-So, by Mayank Shekhar, MiD DAY : ...You want to feel more for this character. I ended up feeling more for the actor Irrfan, on the other hand. As we speak, he is undergoing treatment for a serious health issue. If anything, this movie tells us, he needs to get better soon, and come back with much, much better stuff. The audiences, like me, are praying, patiently waiting. ... full review

So-So, by Jaidev Hemmady, Movie Talkies : ...All in all, Blackmail is not Deo’s best work yet, though the film is wickedly funny in bits and parts. ... full review

So-So, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Feckless men on the back foot, wily and strong-willed women with transgressive tricks up their sleeves and a set of nondescript lives hurtling towards hell in an irreversible tailspin: Blackmail has them all. Sadly, in the end, they do not add up neatly enough to yield a genuine cinematic corker. ... full review

So-So, by Rajeev Masand, News18.com : ...It’s the film’s unique brand of humor – some of it pitch black and Coen-esque – that makes Blackmail worth your time, despite its shortcomings. Be warned that it’s too long by at least 20 minutes, and requires patience. But give it a chance. A lot of it flies. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Rohit Bhatnagar, Deccan Chronicle : ...Blackmail is an epic fail and a complete mismatch of what served in the trailer. ‘Trailer ne blackmail kar diya’! ... full review

Thumbs down, by Devansh Sharma, FirstPost : ...But the film fails where it should have definitely scored brownie points. Given the potential of the premise, it could have easily made the viewers think on their feet and enjoy speculating every turn. However, instead of telling us "S#!T Happens" like he did with his debut Delhi Belly, Deo cleans up all the crap with a toilet paper before it can even make a splash. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...The one man who keeps us watching, regardless, is Irrfan, who plays a jerk-off artist and blackmailer as essentially a decent guy making the best of a bad job. He is one actor who can, with subtle shifts, reveal an interior life; he can show without telling. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Raja Sen, NDTV : ... too tacky and poorly-conceived to do Khan justice. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Kriti Tulsiani, News18.com : ...At one point in the film, Anand asks Dev “Plan kya hai?”, to which Dev responds, “Abhi ban raha” and sums up the film for us. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Manisha Lakhe, Now Running.com : ...Things begin to fall flat and crash just as rapidly as bodies. You cannot believe the dark comedy went from black to making you feel so blue so quickly. They should change the contrived flickering neon from the film to say 'this film sucks'. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...Abhinay Deo sets up the action well and keeps you engaged for a while. However, somewhere in the middle things begin to slacken and you begin hankering for a closure that takes its own sweet time in coming. There is wickedness all around but the film could have done with more sharpness, tartness, bite and sting. It falls way too short of an absurd, madcap, merry lark that it could have very well been. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Rummana, yahoo! India : ...“Blackmail” disappoints because it did have the potential to be an intriguing tale. If you must, watch it for Irrfan’s delightfully nuanced performance. ... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

1 readers - 0 yays 0 so-so 1 nays

Nay! Thumbs Down, by Fan

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Gunshots and one long scene with lots of blood
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: The premise is infidelity, one item number in a bar
  • Concept: A husband who finds out his wife is cheating on him, anonymously blackmails the boyfriend who anonymously blackmails the wife (his girlfriend) while the husband’s officemate and the boyfriend’s private detective blackmail the husband.
  • General Look and Feel: Real life, middle-class atmosphere, for the most part.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

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Lead Actors:
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Comments (1)

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Fan

The only reason I went to watch this at the theatre was Irfan Khan. But the film is a big disappointment.

The trailer gives an impression of a nice concept where the blackmailer is blackmailed by the blackmailee, almost everyone aware that blackmailing is going on, death, intrigue.

The movie is far from all that. Yes, the interesting concept of the blackmailer being blackmailed is there, but somehow it is not developed into an interesting watch. What we then have is a random middle aged guy, [comment partially deleted because it gives a detail of the movie away] being dumped by his wife for a younger fellow. The blackmailing follows, and even the blackmailer [comment partially deleted because it gives a detail of the movie away]. There are so many blackmailings going on that at the end of the movie I find it still difficult to figure out who made how much money and who lost how much money.

The first 30-40 minutes of the movie are excruciatingly slow - thereafter the pace seems to be alright. The characters are all typical stereotypes. Irfan Khan as the common man, all with a typical middle class home with stickers of Richie Rich on the show cases, and unpainted walls. Arunoday Singh, from his image that is stuck in my mind of a muscled idiot from Mein Tera Hero, seems to be doing the same character here - an idiot with blown up muscles. Omi Vaidya too stereotyped into the US returned Indian. Divya Dutt probably the only who is not stereotyped, and a pleasure to watch after a long time. And speaking of long time, yes there is the forgettable item number performed by Urmila Matondkar, back on silver screen after a long time.

The movie has twists, some innovative idea, but overall the theme of amateurs trying their hand at questionable and certainly criminal activities like blackmailing [comment partially deleted because it gives a detail of the movie away] falls flat. Got better things in life then to watch this film. One can easily give it the skip, even when on TV.

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