Review: Blackmail

Posted on February 6, 2005


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With two action heroes, ‘Blackmail’ should have been a blast, but it’s just a bore.

FEB 6, 2005 – BLACKMAIL ISN’T ABOUT BLACKMAIL, so why is it called Blackmail? They could have titled it Blank Male, considering the gamut of emotions that flit across Suniel Shetty’s face, but why Blackmail? Isn’t this really about a kidnapping, about the resultant tussle between the man who naps the kid and the man whose kid is napped?

But then, the title probably didn’t need to make much sense. The makers may have reasoned that their movie has one USP – an action sequence that involves the demolition of a giant wheel. And if you’re the kind who walks into a film to see the demolition of a giant wheel, you’re also probably the kind who won’t care if it’s called Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, so long as it delivers the kicks you’re after, like an item number in Love Bird Night Club performed by a dancer so blessed by Nature, she cannot possibly view her feet by simply looking down.

For the rest of us, though, Blackmail merely inspires a bunch of mails.

Dear director Anil Devgan – You begin interestingly enough, having kidnapper Ajay Devgan stalk Suniel Shetty’s family, along the lines of Cape Fear. Then, after the kidnapping, you branch off along the lines of A Perfect World, with the relationship between outlaw and child. It’s an ambitious mix of themes and genres – but far beyond the capabilities of the man last responsible for Raju Chacha, that jolly family entertainer where Rishi Kapoor plunges to death from a cliff as his traumatised kids watch helplessly. Next time, aim lower.

Dear Ajay Devgan – We know you can’t always slash your rates for arty, Raincoat-type fare, and that you also need to sleepwalk through such inane big-budgeters to put food in your mouth. But while you’re at it, could you have those teeth looked at? Huge close-ups of what appears to be an advanced stage of periodontitis isn’t what we look for in our heroes, even if they’re playing villains. Thanks.

Dear Priyanka Chopra – It’s great that you’re seeking variety so early in your career, that you’re portraying the mother of a little boy here. But you know what? When the average little boy whines that he needs to relieve himself, the average mother would simply huff exasperatedly and drag him to the loo. She wouldn’t do what you do here – which is, pause, smile sweetly at the boy, ruffle his hair, and then drag him to the loo. (For a second there, I thought you’d embrace him and give him a bar of chocolate as well before taking him to the loo.) But otherwise, you rock, especially in the scene where you pacify your angry husband the way Indian housewives traditionally do, by slipping into a shirt and hot pants and performing a cabaret in the living room.

Dear music director Himesh Reshammiya – We understand why you lifted the shh shh shh refrain from baahon mein chale aao (Anamika) and the entire mukhda of har kisiko nahin milta (Janbaaz). We wouldn’t bother about originality either in a movie so full of formula, it could be bottled and sold as Eeks Action 500.

Dear viewer – There are some decent stunts, but Blackmail is far from thrill-a-minute stuff. (Maybe it is thrill-a-minute, but only if you interpret minute not as sixty seconds but as a small amount.) And if you have to watch it, go to a theatre and see it with the smart alecks in the audience. When Shetty asks Devgan, “Tu ne aaj tak usey kya diya hai,” someone to my left piped up, “Samosa.” That’s the most fun I had during this movie.

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Posted in: Cinema: Hindi