Don’t read this review if you want to enjoy Talaash whole-heartedly. Read it later after watching the film. But no, this does not contain any spoilers.
There’s something frustrating about not being told the full truth. If you came out of Talaash because you felt cheated, maybe you went in with the wrong expectations.
It’s like crying foul after a game of Bluff just because you didn’t pay attention to what you were playing.
It’s a little like going in to watch Die Hard and complaining that Bruce Willis never dies.
Or that Batman is not a realistic film though he gives intense brooding looks all the time.
Realism is over-rated, often considered to be a virtue. Because an actor isn’t being overdramatic or going over-the-top, a work of fiction is expected to be real now?
A story, by definition, has every right to spin a yarn with limitless possibilities. A film, by convention, has all the licence to be larger than life. Especially, a thriller.
So if you hated Talaash because it wasn’t realistic, you might want to consider the range that thrillers offer — action, psychological, supernatural, horror, murder mystery/suspense, noir, heist, kidnap drama, found footage, pulpy crime, erotic, political, spy, science fiction, based on true events/docudrama to name a few of the sub genres. A thriller intends providing thrills by triggering any of your senses and often demands willing suspension of disbelief.
A tense, brooding Aamir Khan with a moustache is no promise that this film must unfold like a television documentary and if you paid enough attention, you would easily see where it’s headed.
That exactly was the reason I felt a little disappointed with Talaash.
You can see the twist coming early on in the film once you recognise the genre — the game of cards the makers play with us. It’s never a smart idea to keep the genre itself as your trump card.
When the entire film hinges on a big reveal towards the end and has very little else to offer in terms of plot, you know the makers are treading on thin ice.
Let’s say you figured only in the climax that you were watching a Batman movie… But there were bat symbols scattered all through the film as clues for you to spot them early on. So if you guessed that the film is a chapter in Batman’s life and soon are proven right, it would be a disappointment because you saw it coming early on.
If you didn’t pick up the clues and suddenly found Batman at the end of the film, you would still be disappointed because you weren’t specifically told to expect Batman.
Talaash is a victim of such an experiment. Reema bravely plays with the genre only to expose herself to this Catch 22 situation.
Beneath this conceit though is where most of Talaash’s brilliance, and reasons to watch it, lie. In the performances, in the crafting (the framing and editing are top notch), detailing and atmospherics. Not so much in the pace, the writing (it’s difficult to believe that the lines were written by two of our very best — Farhan Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap) or the plotting itself.
It’s not like we haven’t seen anything like this before. If Kahaani used a key scene from a film called Taking Lives as a final twist, Talaash uses one of the most abused endings of this genre.
However, the cast makes this work as an unusual dysfunctional relationship drama. Those moments of fine sensitivity merit this a watch.
Aamir Khan justifies his rather unwarranted presence in the film with that final scene and Rani Mukerji plays a great foil with minimal make-up and simplistic costume. Kareena Kapoor makes you fall in love with another luminous avatar of a streetwalker, while a solid Nawazuddin Siddiqui chips in with one more powerhouse performance you will remember.
If you are willing to settle for the basics of the genre, you will have a great time watching it, especially if you have no idea of what’s coming.
If you are searching for meaning, realism, logic or a complex plot, you are barking up the wrong tree.
Director: Reema Kagti
Cast: Aamir Khan, Rani Mukerji, Kareena Kapoor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Storyline: A police officer dealing with the loss of his child is baffled by a mysterious death of a movie-star who drives into the sea.
Bottomline: Best watched without being told anything about it