Zee5’s latest, ‘Blood Money’, directed by Sarjun KM, struggles to fulfill the promises set by its own interesting plot. The story by Sankar Dass has two seemingly innocent brothers about to be hanged in Kuwait; and their family, back in India, trying to stop the execution. The premise immediately sets the ticking clock in motion. However, the tension, created by the situation gradually falters and starts to dissipate due to the uneven direction.

Here, ‘Blood Money’ chooses to have Rachel Victor (Priya Bhavani Shankar), a newly appointed sub-editor of a news channel as the protagonist. The decision is not particularly unwise to be honest, as the family of the men to be hanged would have really struggled to navigate through the proverbial wheel of justice, given their background and state of mind. Sankar Dass’ script has also given a past for Rachel that would make her character more engaged in the case, on a personal level. Detail we often see in protagonists like that in a thriller of this mould. 

Blood Money 2021 Zee5

One of the first pitfalls for ‘Blood Money’ is balancing out the tension of the time-constrained actions with the emotional aspects of the characters. The blend of these is not as smooth as one would hope it to be. One of the brothers, Kaliyappan (Kishore), has a daughter whom he has not seen for five years. The daughter too, has hardly any memories of her father, as he left when she was too little to register any memory of the nature rosy. This lays the foundation for an evocative possibility of an emotionally triumphant climax. Again, not a bad decision for a commercial film.

The problem is, like mentioned above, Sarjun KM’s direction and the screenplay do not have the necessary layers of characterisation. Thus the sequences falter to emanate the feeling that they were designed to. It becomes sterile and flat, hardly providing the environment where the audience could reciprocate the emotion shown by the characters on the screen. The film incorporates many shots of the daughter, and other family members of the brothers, weeping and wailing; it even has close shots of eyes brimming with tears. But, without the natural progression of character building, those shots come across more as cues, than organically crafted sympathetic moments.

A similar lack of naturalism exists in the thriller aspect of the film as well. Conflicts in the film come from colleagues of Rachel. Her efforts to convince her peers is a sub-plot in itself. But, this storyline seriously gets hampered by the writing of the dialogues. The dialogues are basic, without the natural chemistry between them. The lines uttered by the characters are not punctuated well enough with each other to keep the tension of the situation from ebbing away. There is a lackadaisical approach in unravelling the mystery of the ‘crime’ of the brothers, hindering the overall effect.

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One thing that ‘Blood Money’ does manage well is that it does not sway tonally. There is no song-and-dance routine or romantic escapades by the leads. The story is not interspersed by such unnecessary trivialities in the name of conformity. This is not something that is usually prevalent in Indian commercial films. The film at least tries to charter the course steadfast without any detours, in that regard.

The film’s cinematography is pleasant. Cinematographer G Balamurugan frames the shots well without the caveats of overindulgence. The vagaries in colour tone are also justifiably used. The main cast; featuring Priya Bhavani Shankar, Kishore and Metro Shirish, tries to eke out a decent turn despite the limitations of their characters. They are not successful always, but the earnestness in their efforts overcome any shortcomings in acting. 

In the end, the film had most of the ingredients to cook up a good edge-of-the-seat, taut thriller. An intriguing idea where time is of the essence as well as potential to be emotionally rewarding; a little unconvincing but generally believable performances by most of the cast; well shot. And yet the hackneyed, shallow execution with formulaic dialogues holds the film back, rendering it nothing more than usual average watchable stuff.

Blood Money (2021) is now streaming on Zee5.


Blood Money link(s): IMDb
Cast: Kishore, Priya Bhavani Shankar, Shirish
Director: Sarjun

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