Friday, March 30, 2012

Blood Money 

Diamond in the Dust

This guy Kunal (Khemu) is particularly daft. He hasn’t heard of Hansel and Gretel, because he hasn’t been a to a “playgroup school” as a child.  Fair enough.  But, as an MBA graduate, he would have to be particularly naive to be shocked at the discovery that businessman fudge accounts and deal with the underworld; he doesn’t think it odd though, that a nobody like him is picked up, taken to Cape Town and installed in a plush penthouse.

Vishal Mahadkar’s Blood Money takes a germ of an idea from the Hollywood movie Blood Diamond (diamonds that are mined in war torn African countries and used to fund a host of other evils across the world.)   After that it’s a Bhatt formula of greed, conflict, repentance, redemption.  Only here, the conflict is a nagging wife Arzoo (Amrita Puri), who has a penchant for falling asleep at dining tables.

Kunal’s sneering Machiavellian boss Zaveri (Manish Chaudhary—costume and expression duplicated from Rocket Singh) and is nasty brother (Sandiip Sikcand) run a shady operation, but also show Kunal a good life—fancy car,  gourmet meals, swank office, sexy secretary—to quell any pangs of conscience.

A trip to Angola and Kunal figures out the connection between diamond smuggling and bomb blasts in Mumbai—shown on TV in case the audience doesn’t get it.  But he seems more concerned about the wife leaving him, and in Bhatt films, a man deals with problems by drinking and brawling. And yes, a vague Bhatt-film stamped song has to be wailing on the soundtrack.

The thin storyline gets sillier by the minute when Kunal decides to do something; the wife actually shrills on the phone, “I don’t want to return to Mumbai as a widow.”  So at least you know the ketchup spouting knife wound on his side won’t be fatal.  The script is flat and doesn’t even go into the intricacies of the issue they are dealing with.  The film with its relatively short running time, just leaves the viewer to fill in the blanks.

This kind of role has been patented by Emran Hashmi, who manages that wicked insouciance that Kunal Khemu cannot manage— his expression to cover any problem is a pursed-lipped frown.  None of the other actors measure up—performances and music used to be a dependable factor in Bhatt films.  Blood Money is an indifferently made film, and it shows.


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