Movie Review: TALAASH by FENIL SETA

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When Aamir Khan was last seen on screen as a lead actor, in 3 Idiots, history was created. The film broke box office records but most importantly, gave us an experience that we can cherish and remember forever fondly. Aamir Khan became synonymous with entertaining, meaningful, sensible cinema and his forthcoming films became eagerly awaited. Surprisingly, Aamir vanished from Bollywood scenario and didn’t even sign a film for a long time, instead devoting time to his television show Satyamev Jayate. And finally, when Aamir chose Talaash, the fans and industry heaved a sigh of relief. The ‘thinking Khan’ will be back soon after all! Again, Aamir made us wait, postponing the film to almost 5 months and finally, here comes November 30. And here comes Talaash, easily one of the most talked-about and anticipated films in the last 2 years! Promos never promised any masala entertainment or humour and in that regard, Talaash doesn’t mislead or cheat audiences. The film keeps one hooked although it moves at its own pace. More about it later!

The story of the movie: Inspector Surjan Singh Shekhawat (Aamir Khan) is assigned the case of the accident/murder of movie star Armaan Kapoor (Vivaan Bhatena). The case is bewildering and Suraj is not able to find a single clue. On the other hand, he’s battling problems in his personal life as well. His son Karan has passed away in an accident and Surjan fails to come to terms with this loss. Moreover, he is also finding it difficult to emotionally connect with his wife Roshni (Rani Mukerji) post-tragedy. At this point, Surjan meets Rosie (Kareena Kapoor), an attractive sex worker, operating in the same area where Armaan loses life. Surjan gets drawn towards Rosie to find answers to Armaan’s mysterious death and also to get over his personal grief.

It’ll be wrong to reveal much about Talaash since as we all know, that it’s a suspense drama and unveiling anything can kill the joy of the viewers. However, one should be aware of the fact that it’s an engrossing film but not fast-paced. It’s around 135 minutes long and takes its own time to reach the culmination. But from start to finish, the film has several moments that are deftly executed, performed and written and which will find appreciation. Characters are brilliantly sketched and one instantly gets drawn into the troubled world of Surjan and Roshni. Songs are minimal but smartly incorporated into the film. The first half is superb and wonderfully builds up the mystery and leave the viewers asking, ‘what next?’. The second half commences well and Aamir-Kareena’s scenes are nicely executed. The film does drag somewhere in the middle of the second hour. But it gets back on track during the pre-climax. In fact, the last 25 minutes is the best part of the enterprise. But at the same time, here lies a catch – many viewers will be able to guess the suspense before it’s unveiled! This is not something that should not happen in a film promoted as a whodunit. But still one doesn’t mind! Talaash, after all, is more than a suspense film. It’s an emotional film at its core and deals with issues like forced prostitution and more importantly broken homes, strained marital relations, coming to terms with loss of a loved one etc and in that context, the film is an excellent and satisfying experience. But somewhere, thanks to these bloody expectations, a lot is left to be desired!

This is no award winning role from Aamir Khan but the superstar doesn’t disappoint either. The actor underplays his part and in the process, impress even more. Watch out for the scene where he confronts Rani or where he breaks down – so natural, so effective! And hats off to him for choosing Talaash over all other films. It’s not a perfect film but at the same time, it’s a film no superstar of his league would have touched! Great job AK!

Rani Mukerji proves she can look beautiful, with no make-up. She has a supporting but a significant part in the film and as always, gets it right. Kareena Kapoor, however, wins hands down as the best performer in the film. She looks stunning and gets her act bang-on! At the same time, viewers, like Shekhawat, too get enchanted by Rosie’s adah! After Jab We Met, 3 Idiots, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu and (to an extent) Heroine, here’s another memorable performance from Kareena in recent times!

Raj Kumar Yadav (Devrath Kulkarni) plays fine and good to see a chance him playing a positive character. Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Temur) yet again proves to be a scene-stealer! A complete actor! Shernaz Patel (Frenny Mistri) as expected gives a flawless performance. Vivaan Bhatena, Subrat Dutta (Shashi), Suhasi Goradia Dhami (Armaan’s wife) and the actors who play Shashi’s girlfriend, Mallika and Sanjay Kejriwal too come up with good performances.

Ram Sampat’s music is melodious. Muskaanein Jhooti, Jee Le Zara, Jiya Laage Na, Hona Hai Kya and Laakh Duniya – all songs work big time and are aptly incorporated in the film as well. Sampat’s background score is in sync with the film as well. Mohanan’s cinematography is effective and the underbelly of the city is beautifully captured. VFX is great and special mention should be made of the underwater scenes which leaves a great mark! Farhan Akhtar-Anurag Kashyap’s dialogues are straightforward and no attempt is made to add profanity, vulgar jokes just to ‘lighten up the goings-on’! And same is followed by writers Zoya Akhtar-Reema Kagti and Reema the director. Story and characters are well-written and well-sketched. Notice the way Aamir uses psychological tactics to ooze out truth from culprits and constables…an aspect never before seen in Bollywood at least. Story, script, direction holds attention till the very end but unfortunately, as aforementioned, one might feel disappointed if one is able to correctly guess the suspense mid-way. Yet, a great effort…a hatke one that too!

Some of the best scenes:
1. Armaan’s accident
2. Surjan orders fellow officers not to talk to the media
3. Temur’s entry
4. All scenes of Surjan-Rosie
5. Surjan’s tragic past
6. All songs of the film
7. Intermission point
8. Surjan-Roshni watch film
9. Surjan confronts Frenny
10. The last 25 minutes

On the whole, Talaash works big time, as an emotional film. But as a suspense drama, it might not especially if one is able to guess the suspense midway (and no, it’s not a Shutter Island or Ghajini or Kahaani or Memento rip-off). This is a film that will be met with extreme reactions. Yet, this is a film that deserves a watch, for the performances, for the underlying theme and for the total hatke experience. After all, which superstar, especially of the stature of Aamir, will take up a film like Talaash? Hats off! I am slightly disappointed with the film and yet, I came out of the theatre entertained and enchanted! Go for it!

My rating-*** ½ out of 5!

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