Tamasha: This time for Deepika

On an enigmatic excursionThe film might be Ranbir’s but Deepika makes a bigger impact.  

Tamasha (Hindi)

Director: Imtiaz Ali

Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Piyush Mishra, Vivek Mushran

In contemporary Bollywood, love stories have undergone a far-reaching, fundamental transformation: from fighting the cruel world and family till the 90s, the lovers have been battling their own inner demons in circa 2000. Have I fallen in love or is it just friendship? To commit or not to commit?

Tamasha goes a step ahead from these seminal questions to dwell on something even more significant: finding your true, inner self that has been lost in the robotic work life, to discover and embrace the clown lurking behind the automaton in you. In that sense Tamasha could well be the next part in the Ranbir Kapoor-In-Evolution series of Hindi cinema that boasts of films like Wake Up Sid , Rockstar and Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani .

There is definitely a good thought that Imtiaz Ali invests in Tamasha and some moments do come alive and reach out very strongly. After all, a lot of us have been burning ourselves out, are caught in a rut, that too of our own choice.

Even the entire facade Imtiaz employs – of theatre, role playing and story telling – while referencing his own raconteur-filmmaker self, places Ranbir in a nice art and aesthetics context as against the mechanical mode. Moreover, Ranbir and Deepika Padukone work well together, be it communicating that buddy spirit, resisting love or giving in to it or confronting each other and facing up to the break up.

They belong to each other. But the telling of the tale becomes too turgid, ponderous and protracted. It’s then that the initial identification with the characters lapses into sheer disinterest and boredom. The conflict in the story works but the resolution is way too easy and pat.

The film is essentially about Ved (Ranbir) and his soulmate Tara (Deepika Padukone). About their togetherness as strangers and their loneliness in familiarity. Rather it’s only about Ved, a product manager who urgently needs to break free. Those around him, even the family members, are rather inconsequential or are caricaturised (boss Vivek Mushran) and over the top (story teller Piyush Mishra) or just shoved in as a pointless layer to the narrative (the singing auto driver).

In between, there is the familiar romanticisation of journeys (in this case we go to Corsica via Delhi, Shimla and Kolkata) — the moment when you get familiar with yourself, when you connect with strangers and find your soul mate. Travel typifies “carpe diem”, when you live for the moment. However, as a viewer who has travelled a lot, it can also leave you feeling utterly frustrated — why doesn’t this happen to me? Why does the seat next to yours in the plane always get taken by the grumpiest guy?

The woman is confined to playing the supporting role. The one who invests in a relationship, the one who expresses her feelings and seeks a direction in love. She is also the trigger, the mirror in which the hero will eventually spot his real reflection, the one who will make him realise that he is much more than regular and mediocre. Which is all very fine. She is clearly less confused and more evolved than the man more so if she happens to be played by the lovely Deepika.

The film might be Ranbir’s and he might be good and earnest and all that but Deepika makes a bigger impact. So, for a change, next time, turning the tables won’t be such a bad idea either.

Questions of career, competition and success and of commitment are as big dilemmas for women in modern, urban India as they are for men. Why not have the heroine grapple with them for a change and let the hero become her mirror? High time our filmy boys became men and moved on, leaving the stage for women.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 9:16:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/this-time-for-deepika/article7925626.ece

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