Blood Money Movie Review: Strong emotions overpower a convenient screenplay in this lovable drama
Sarjun KM's Blood Money is a newsroom drama that neither keeps you on the edge of the seat nor surprises you with a twist a minute. Yet it is a wholesome film that keeps you hooked with its well-etched characters and endearing performances.
For starters, Priya Bhavani Shankar's Rachel Victor is a Christian journalist. In an ideal Kollywood setting, she would have sported the mandatory chain with a cross or got a shot of her praying in Church. But, here she gets introduced in a house party, grieving over the death of her father with a glass of wine and uses the F word without a second thought. Make no mistake, she is neither the template 'modern girl' who lectures people on liberation. She is flawed, she is angelic, she could be any one of us and that makes Rachel and many other characters in Blood Money special. For instance, when a good man in the film who wouldn't mean harm to anyone, even in his dreams becomes a witness of a major crime, he doesn't do anything heroic, he just freezes like you and me. The people in this world are just swallowed by their own battles and the problem of the protagonist doesn't affect them much, and for some, it is just another news. During an important scene, a character says, "I have seen villages being massacred overnight, how can the death of a stranger affect me?" Such deep character studies are rare, but thanks to the strong writing of Sankar Dass gives you the taste of reading a fine novel.
Director: Sarjun KM
Cast: Priya Bhavani Shankar, Shirish, Kishore, Vishrutha
Sarjun deserves extra points for showing a caricature-free newsroom. Being a journalist, I can say that this is the closest Tamil cinema has got in capturing a media house in its element, at least in the last decade. Even though there is room for perfection, seeing a newsroom filled with characters who aren't carbon copies feels like a breath of fresh air. I especially liked how Sarjun portrays workplace ego and the system which wears out even the most zestful ones.
Looking macroscopically, Blood Money has a very simple story. It is the tale of two prisoners, who are about to face their death sentence in Kuwait and a Chennai journalist fighting to save them. The ones who are unaware of the concept of Blood Money (a compensation for imprisonment and death penalty in Middle East) will likely find the plot to be novel. But what majorly hinders the audience from enjoying the film to the fullest is the convenience in the screenplay. I understand that a hero's journey needs triumphs and feel-good drama has to have a certain kind of ending, but here the problems seem to solve themselves for Rachel. Even though the film succeeds in making us root for her, the easy and quick wins do dampen our spirits.
As I had mentioned, Blood Money is a film filled with tasteful performances and it was especially a delight to see actors like Priya and Kishore perform in close-ups. But the one performer who effortlessly steals the show is the young Vishrutha. She strengthens the emotional core of the film with her subtle expressions and when she breaks down, your heart just melts.
Apart from its apt casting, the major plus of Blood Money is its restricted runtime. With a length of less than 90-minutes, the film conveys so much without losing our attention. It is a film that values the time of its audiences a lot and such films deserve more love from us.