Instep Today

Tamasha is food for reflective souls

By Magazine Desk
Mon, 11, 15

Not every Bollywood movie opens to a house packed to the extent of being claustrophobic. Usually this is a case when one of the Khans is taking over the big screen no matter how mindless the film appears to be.

Not every Bollywood movie opens to a house packed to the extent of being claustrophobic. Usually this is a case when one of the Khans is taking over the big screen no matter how mindless the film appears to be. However, with the release of Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha, it’s obvious that Ranbir Kapoor has a similar ability to pull in the crowds. Ironically, since summer 2013, all of his previous offerings have been box office disasters, but there is something about the duo of Ranbir and Deepika Padukone, in fact the trio of Ranbir-Deepika and Imtiaz Ali, that makes audiences curious enough to engage with their film. Thankfully, curiosity does not kill the cat here.

A film about self-discovery, inner demons and conflicts, the piercing pain of unfulfilled desires and love entangled in existential crisis, Tamasha is an experience only if you manage to look past the blemishes. Director Imtiaz, with his brand of cinema where melancholy comes wrapped in panoramic visuals, invests in an interesting idea. Perhaps not original; lurking into familiar territory, but definitely one that’s worth exploring.

Tamasha is a story of Ved (Ranbir Kapoor), a man with a love for performance; a born storyteller, who is hiding behind a real-life automaton, giving into societal and behavioral norms that his father (Javed Sheikh) expects him to embrace fully. His soul mate is Tara (Deepika Padukone), who emerges as a mirror to Ved’s inner self. It’s his alter ego that makes her fall in love with him in the first place; as a complete stranger.

The first half of the movie is where most of the flaws reside. Ved and Tara’s companionship as tourist buddies, which is peculiarly not dominated by any ‘strangers’ paranoia and is hinging more on sexual attraction than love, is not as enjoyable as the breath-taking views of Corsica. And the fact that these moments, which will eventually transform into the foundations of their relationship dynamics moving on, are merely airbrushed to dive straight into the dark, sad alleys of their hearts is where the film fails to connect and interact with its viewers.

Post-interval, the film rises to the occasion and more so because of the brilliant performances by its protagonists. Ranbir is genuine as the dark, tortured hero, straddling like a pendulum between the dramatics that his inner self withholds to being the somber, mechanical yes-man to eventually bursting into a self-loathing individual raging against the tedium that is daily life, in his mind. It’s safe to say that this is Ranbir’s best performance to date. And while Deepika is largely confined to being a supporting character, she makes an impact in every frame she gets. Her character is relatable and her emotional outflow accessible. The actress has truly evolved with time and gives a mature performance. That said, the spotlight is mostly on Ranbir whose tragic ways would be infectious for anybody who has dealt with dissatisfaction.

There are of course weak points. The film lacks depth and fails to penetrate deeper into the background story which is the cause of the main character’s darkness and solitude. Unlike Zoya Akhtar’s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara or Imtiaz’s previous outing, Highway, which deal with existential crisis in one way or the other, Tamasha doesn’t unearth the underlying layers that build up the crust, let alone touch upon them. The father-son relationship that could possibly lead to some touching moments and make for the façade that is replaced by theatre and imagination is only an additional aspect of the narrative. Also, A.R Rahman’s presence doesn’t lead to a memorable, off-the-charts soundtrack barring one or two songs.

Nonetheless, Tamasha is an enjoyable journey to self discovery. Imtiaz interestingly presents it in a way that while you sympathize with Ved, you are really not sympathizing with him during the film, laughing over his sudden outbursts from an alternate reality. But as you leave the theatre, the walk to the door makes you wonder if you are guilty of mocking his misery. Both the main characters supply life’s lessons leaving you emotionally uplifted. And while opportunities of sentimentality are rare, blanketed in dark comedy, one is left feeling admirably emotional. In short, it’s a thinking person’s film. Watch it more than once if you are the reflective sort.