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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Love, after all the trouble (Blackmail)

It's quite funny that one song from Vijay Anand's Blackmail is celebrated as being one of the most erotic melodies of those times. Given the situation that the song is played in, and the circumstances the leads find themselves in, on any given day, one might be more than ready to sight it as signage of consummation. But then, for me, this song is certainly not one that will melt me into a puddle. I'd rather just call it a breaking of barriers between the protagonists, who till now, failed to unify, owing to the battery of misunderstandings concocted by the devious villain. In this song, the man and the woman realise that all shackles of bitterness are broken and if the circumstances so grant, they would be able to lead a blissful life together now. Well, for me, Mile do badan, is just about that.

However, the picturisation is fantastic. Tight closeups of Dharmendra and Rakhee fill the frame. One can sense the tension, both physical and emotional, in the scene. While they are trying to evade the clutches of the goons, they come close to one another in a situation fraught with danger. Kudos to the master director Goldie Anand for conceptualising a scene like this. But then, isn't he well known enough to dramatise his songs in the most unique manner!
Blackmail is a romantic thriller, focusing on a triangular love affair of sorts, a scientific discovery and loads of double crossing. Though the essential potboiler (one of the greedy villains try to pose as an Italian or something. Ridiculous considering that the Indian man looks anything but Italian), Anand deploys some clever mechanism to make this 1973 film out-of-the-ordinary. He has a good looking hero, Dharmendra, as well as a smart villain, Shatrughan Sinha. Yes, Shotgun Sinha is very good indeed. Simply because, it takes time for one to understand that he is merely using Asha as a bait to get to the riches. He fakes true love and deep friendship. He is too smooth in his tactics and before you know it, he has already done the damage that can be done to ruin the relation between Kailash and his newlywed, Asha.
The basis of all the avarice is a formula that Dr Khurana (Madan Puri) hits upon in his science lab. The hard-working but loony scientist invents a formula to produce electricity using solar power. The local businessman who sells batteries sees this jeopardising his trade. This starts a massive chase to grab hold of the doctor's formula so that goons can use them to rake in all the moolah. In the wrong way of course!
But focussed around this scientific mumbo-jumbo is a sweet romantic tale. Kailash (Dharmendra) is in love with Asha (Rakhee), who in turn is in love with Jeevan (Shatrughan Sinha). Asha's father, played by Iftekar, wants to get Jeevan and Asha married. But Jeevan has other things in mind. When he learns that Kailash is smitten with Asha but has never told her of his affections, he plays a dirty game. He encourages Kailash, who is also his friend, to pursue Asha, and also convinces Iftekar to get Asha married to Kailask because of the riches that the family has. Asha initially refuses to heed Kailash's overtures but one day reads all the love letters that Kailash gives her and is touched. She sees the difference in the love that Kailash has for her and that she is used to getting from Jeevan. Though she refuses her father's suggestion of her marrying Kailash, situation concocted by Jeevan force her to marry Kailash anyways. While many would think that Asha and Kailash will be happy now, no matter what, Jeevan start playing dirty tricks.
He creates situations wherein Kailash learns of Asha and Jeevan's affair, and also suspects Asha of carrying on an extra-marital affair with Jeevan. Misunderstandings creep in between the newlyweds and Asha is continuously tormented by the demands Jeevan makes of her. Meanwhile, the greedy goons are out to steal the formula from Dr Khurana, who is Kailash's uncle, and use Asha to get their work done. The drama and suspense only increases with every passing day...
I love the scenes depicting the sweet thread of domesticity between Asha and Kailash, like they having their food from the same plate, Kailash stopping short of stepping inside the room when Asha is changing her clothes and so on. These little gestures only heighten the physical chemistry that the two share.
The music by Kalyanji-Anandji is good, but they could have done better. Mile do badan is quite well known as is Pal pal dil ke paas. The second song of course, owes its popularity to the lovely picturisation. A lost in the love letters Asha is actually listening to Kailash's romantic words in her thoughts. Dharmendra looks super in the song and emotes very well. Sharbati teri aankhon mein (Kishore Kumar) is too loud for my taste and Asha o asha is plain drab. 
Dharmendra plays his part pretty well. Rakhee is good, too. But (pardon me for being so blase) I never found her good looking. Yes, she was pretty in Sharmilee, but she is too short and straight. In fact, she just pales in comparison to Dharmendra. She acts well but she is hardly glamorous. Sorry!!
Shatrughan Sinha, I feel, should have stuck to playing the mean man. He is utterly conniving as the odious Jeevan. He never has the best intentions for anybody but puts up a face as if he is a saint. Oh! He does it too well. The scene where he stealthily comes to meet Asha on her wedding night, show his true mettle as an actor. He just fakes love so effortlessly. He projects disappointment but in his heart of hearts he knows that he is going to win the battle using underhand means. This Shotgun Sinha is totally strong here...


  1. This is a really enjoyable film. Of course, Vijay Anand was a master at picturizing songs. I don't think anyone else has done so well with songs as he has.

    Raakhee is certainly not very glamorous. But she is easy on the eye, especially in her earlier films. 'Sharmilee' of course. I also don't like her much as an actress, specially her dialogue delivery.

  2. Other than Sharmilee, I also liked Rakhee in Jeevan Mrityu - she's pretty in that (and Dharmendra, of course, is in his element!) Incidentally, in Blackmail, am I the only one to think that it looked as if the film had been shot over a couple of years? There are some scenes - for example, where Asha comes to the factory to visit, before they end up getting married - in which both Rakhee and Dharmendra are looking much younger than in the rest of the film.

  3. @Banno: Yeah... remember O haseena zulfon wali and Aaja aaja main hoon pyar tera!!! They simply rock!!

  4. @Dustedoff: Really, you think so?? Then I must keep this in mind when I watch the film next time.

  5. A good suspense film. I enjoyed it very much, and your review fit
    s mine except that I do hold the 'do badan' song picturisation as quite the highlight of the film LOL!
    I have never been able to make up my mind about Rakhee. Do I or do I not like her.
    Same is the case with Mumtaz (I know, I know I must be a rare exception).
    It must be their full heavy faces that distracts me so much.

  6. @Pacifist: Rakhee was so average to look at man!! And just look at her figure... top heavy and so straight! And she looked so aged just after some years in the industry. Nopes, I don't quite like that!!

  7. I agree with you; Rakhee was just not that great to look at! Maybe pretty eyes, but seriously, I have never been too great a fan of her histrionics! But Dharmendra.. sigh :)
    I really liked the absolute rascal that Shatrughan Sinha plays - he really breathes villainy into the character!

  8. @Neha: Yeah man! Pehley Khilona and now Blackmail. He just rockksss!! I think he shud have continued with all this villainy rather than playing the mushy hero :(

  9. Nice review, If you really want to see the best of SHOTGUN, Watch movie Dost(Gaadibula rhi hai fame), which also consist of Dharmendra & Shatrughan again, I would call that movie his best performance ever. Dharmendra is also good in that, but he's the best in SatyaKaam.

    Sharmi, I would like to have your thoughts on the new blog I've started

  10. @Gaurav: Sure will visit it soon. It's just that I've become awefully busy lately with work. NOt being able to watch films at all, forget writing about them :(