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S. SHIVA KUMAR
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Short Takes Talaash is technically first-rate, and Rani Mukherjee is superb. Aamir Khan needs to be lauded for his choice of subjects

Many brilliant partsAiming for perfection; a scene from the film
Many brilliant partsAiming for perfection; a scene from the film

T alaash is about two people who drown, one by intent and the other by accident. Both deaths challenge the inspector played by Aamir Khan, professionally and personally. The film is not a ‘whodunnit’. A superstar driving his sedan suddenly swerves off a deserted promenade, plunges into the dark waters and perishes. The sidewalk dwellers who witness the accident are flummoxed, and so is Aamir who’s assigned the case. So it’s more why than who. The problem lies with Talaash being touted as a taut thriller. It’s neither. It’s a film with various layers peeled meticulously most of the way. It’s also about a couple fighting a fledgling marriage caused by the untimely death of their child. The troubled relationship between the lead pair is fascinating. Does the husband blame the wife for giving her assent when the child wants to enter the waters or does he feel guilty for not waking up and not stopping him? Then there’s the beautiful prostitute who consistently makes the ever sneering inspector smile while he battles inner demons.

The pace is languid but not soporific. The emotions never go overboard. It doesn’t jar when the scene shifts from sleuthing to dealing with the scars of the son’s demise. Has the director Ruma bitten off more than she can chew? Not really because she never tries to cram it in. There are some touching scenes like the one where Aamir wants to reach out to his wife but is restrained by an inexplicable emotional barrier. There’s the one where he watches his wife enjoying a mindless comedy in a theatre but are brought back to reality when they bump into friends whose son was also involved in the accident but survives. A poignant one is where the couple endures the compound kids gyrating to ‘Jhalak Dhikla Ja’. Another is where Aamir imagines himself stopping his son from venturing into the waters. The dialogues vacillate from plain cheesy to the pithy.

Technically, Talaash is first rate. The atmosphere, be it a boulevard or the seedy underbelly of Mumbai, is authentic. Mohanan’s camera caresses the neon-lit nights capturing some brilliant shots. The good thing is that his work is neither gimmicky nor has he tried to play with the colour tones. No jarring jump cuts here. Ram Sampath’s music is terrific be it the background score or the songs. ‘Jiya laage na’ is haunting. The shots are detailed and the director Reema Kagti seems to have visualised the whole film before shooting it.

Rani Mukerjee is simply superb, shorn of war paint freckles and all. You wonder why we don’t see her more often on-screen. Nawazuddin, the most impressive actor in recent times, is perfectly cast as a limping small-time schemer. There’s Kareena Kapoor who teases and tantalizes you looking like a beautiful apparition. Amir Khan as the dour cop with furrowed brows fits the role. He’s not an instinctive actor who fully trusts his skills. The role suits him because the camera seems to capture him even as he battles for the right emotions and decides on the apt expressions. He has to be lauded for his choice of roles and films though. Great art is more about flair and ability than hard work. Cinema is teamwork so one individual’s ‘talaash’ for perfection should not make the end result appear perfunctory.

S. SHIVA KUMAR

sshivu@yahoo.com


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