Irrfan Khan’s hangdog, unenthusiastic expression leaves you shaken as he plods through his chosen life of a born loser in this savagely funny satire on adultery and blackmail.
In the strikingly shot (by cinematographer Jay Oza) opening we see Khan’s character Dev struggling to stay afloat through his office hours, fighting shy of going home because the spark has gone from his marriage. His wife Reena (Kriti Kulhari), meanwhile, watches cheesy song sequences on television to while away her time.
This is a marriage where adultery is waiting to happen. And it does sooner than we expect. The takeoff point is so steeply done in the comedy, and with such humorous indulgence, that we are left dazed by the absurdity of it all.
From the adulterous episode, Blackmail builds into an edifice of outrageous eventualities, all bursting at the seams but never getting out of control. Such is the director Abhinay Deo’s control over his characters, who are all victims of a scam gone awry, that the premise simply boggles the mind, tickles the senses and sets our imagination on the wildest wackiest ride since his Delhi Belly.
While the writing sparkles with a roguish splendour, the director fills the frames with a fiendish glee. The narrative does spark a distant pensiveness in indicating the breach of modern urban marriages. While Khan’s marriage is shattered by Arunoday Singh’s presence, the latter’s own marriage with his bully wife — played with splendid spleen by Divya Dutta — is no laughing matter. She treats him like her pet to play fetch. He doesn’t mind as long as his monthly allowance keeps coming.
Singh and Dutta are a riot together. Watching these two underrated actors imbue life and zest into their parts is a major part of the pleasure derived in viewing this bitterly dark comedy. Other exceptionally persuasive performances come from Praduman Singh as Khan’s shifty office colleague and Anuja Sathe as a timid office co-worker who transforms into an avaricious money monster in no time.
Every actor gets the point. Blackmail is a film that celebrates the sheer lunacy of the marital equation when pushed against betrayal. Its strength lies in generating laughter out of the most meditative mishaps of marriage. The sheer preposterousness of making adultery into an occasion of a serial blackmail is used to invoke a sense of unabashed boisterousness.
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.
Check it out!
Blackmail is out on April 5 in UAE
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Kirti Kulhari, Arunoday Singh, Divya Dutta
Directed by Abhinay Deo
Rating: 4 Stars