The cuckold's revenge full of black humour and plot twists

The cuckold's revenge full of black humour and plot twists

Rating: ***

Film: Blackmail (U/A)

Director: Abhinay Deo

Language: Hindi

Cast: Irrfan Khan, Kirti Kulhari, Arunoday Singh

Even at a time when people are opting for more experimental lifestyles, for most people, the fear of being cuckolded is as real as the topic is old, and that is the fear that Irrfan Khan's new flick tap into.

It is crafted as a revenge tale, peppered with black comedy, that sets this age-old worry in a world of smartphones and call centres.

Irrfan's Dev and Kirti's Reena have been married for seven years. The initial scenes which shows Irrfan at his computer late into the night and the drab text he send his wife tells us, subtly, that their married life is not satisfactory.

He steals his colleagues' wives' pictures from their desk, and retreats into the bathroom for reasons the director would rather not explicitly state.

He comes home one day to find that his wife and Arunoday's Ranjit are in the bedroom together.

He imagines two situations of how the scene could end up. Both comically depicted for our benefit, in the first, he smashes a lamp on wife's head; in the other, he stabs a knife into the back of the scramming paramour.

But he does not act. He decides very soon that the way to deal with it is to use his wife's adultery to blackmail her and her lover for money. This leads to a series of blackmails, at one point almost everyone in the film is blackmailing someone.

Throughout the film, we see instances of his inability to act, depicted well by the director through surreal and violent sequences, immediately after which we are shown that it was simply a daydream and Dev is back to square one.

The themes of deceiving those in your household, the distance and fear you maintain with your closest people, and the resulting isolation is explored in the film, much like in Coen brothers' Fargo, to which Blackmail clearly seems to owe some things.

Arunoday's paramour reminds us of this especially. While the character's dim wit is not played subtly, his humour comes from his fear of his in-laws, and is perhaps the most Coenesque bit of the film.

Another sub-plot done well is of Dev's boss, who is waging a war against toilet faucets with his toilet paper company, finding that his wife's picture has been stolen (by Dev), sets out on an investigation and assigns Dev as his Watson.

The film, however, suffers from a overdone plot, done in an attempt to make it look intricate. The coincidences are too often and exaggerated and people are killed very conveniently to advance the plot.

The lowest point of the film is Urmila Matondkar' cameo and song, a gimmick that someone should have had the good sense to call off.

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