(Published in The New Sunday Express, on 1 April 2012, retrieved from http://expressbuzz.com/entertainment/reviews/blood-money/377912.html)
Cast: Kunal Kemmu, Amrita Puri, Manish Chaudhary
Director: Vishal Mahadkar
Rating: 4 stars
So, what happens when you leave the drudgery of a middle-class life in Mumbai for a dream job in Cape Town? And what happens when you try to prove yourself a good diamond salesman, to impress your wily boss? Vishal Mahadkar weaves a gripping storyline into a two-hour film.
Kunal Kadam (Kunal Kemmu) arrives in Cape Town with his wife Arzoo (Amrita Puri), and walks around like a dog with three tails, when he finds out he’s being received at the airport, and driven in a Mercedes to a house that looks like it ought to be on a movie set.
His inept immediate superior should be easy to sideline, he thinks, as he seeks to push himself up the ladder and gain direct access to his boss, Mr. Zaveri (Manish Chaudhary), a man whom we already know for an evil, ruthless don. What follows is a murky journey into the diamond trade, and the gangster circle that comes with it. The impact this has on Kunal’s marriage is portrayed sensitively, without ever going overboard.
The story is told so well that one may easily forget this is a suspense thriller. The cynic is counting the holes in the plot throughout, but the climax fills in most of them. Of course, keeping the audience on its toes requires an implausible stretch or two, but that’s forgivable in the larger context. My only grouse with the film was that a train of the story doesn’t make any sense when one looks back from the end.
We do have to deal with the Bhatt trademarks – the villain drawls out a catchphrase – in this case, it’s “Superb!” – at the end of every sentence, but the director eases it into the script, and Manish Chaudhary pulls off the role. And, of course, there is a terrorist who embodies every cliché one would normally associate with the Taliban – though, presumably, they don’t walk about in black clothes in Africa.
It’s one of those films which sucks when you see the end coming, and entertains when you don’t. The best thing to do in a film like that is to keep it short, and the filmmakers could have kept this tight film even shorter if they’d cut out a couple of the songs.
The gruesome beginning had me worried, because I don’t particularly enjoy violence in movies, but thankfully, most of the gore is off camera. The dialogues are rather insipid, but since everyday speech is mostly mundane, they don’t feel out of place.
Kunal Kemmu plays the role of an ambitious young man, acting too big for his boots in trying to establish himself in a world that he hasn’t even envisioned, convincingly. Amrita Puri initially struggles for control of her character, but perks up later in the film. And Manish Chaudhary is an almost nostalgic callback to the villains of the 1980s.
The Verdict: Blood Money is one of the better suspense films from the Bollywood factory, and you won’t regret the couple of hours you spend watching it.