It’s been a week since Tamasha released and so I can’t call this a review, nor do I think I am so well-endowed with the art and science of filmmaking that I can actually review a film. Nevertheless (apart from the new bloggers syndrome of have-a-blog-will-write) I take this chance to say this: Dear Imtiaz Ali: Thankyou! Take a bow. For yet another good movie with a meaningful story and for not taking your audience for granted.
I think with each of his movie, Ali wants to say something, the same thing, and he only finds better words/ways to express himself in each. This is more specifically true with Rockstar, Highway and now Tamasha. All three of these movies, according to me explored the same themes – of self-discovery flamed up in our protagonists when out of their comfort zones and specially when touched by an encounter that works as catalyst that’s much needed to, I won’t say necessarily break free from, but definitely assert themselves in their on-going lives. Usually these encounters are allowed when you are not already communicating yourself articulately to people around. Now that’s another aspect of society that we live in that Ali subtly outlines in the three movies – communication gap, specifically between children and parents, and the need to have conversations with people who do love you and are family. Communicate clearly and with conviction and have some meaningful conversations, putting an end to tamasha we have to put up with.
With his latest, Tamasha, starring Ranbir Kapoor – yet another superb performer from the Kapoor Khandan – and a fine actress Deepika Padukone, Ali almost nails it. On the surface, it is a simple sweet story of girl(Tara) and boy(Ved) meeting on an unfamiliar though pretty terrain, the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, far away from familiarities back home in India that are perfect, accepted but unchallenged so far. They have a chance meeting, we assume while on a vacation. They decide to introduce themselves as Don and Mona Darling respectively and indulge in this adventure-like friendship without revealing their realities to each other, perhaps finding comfort in in fact escaping it. But as all good things come to an end, so do these seven days of passionately lived life. Tara leaves. Once in India (Calcutta), she is unable to beguile herself of her feelings for Don even after four years. Now though we have been told a couple of times that Don ko khojna mushquil hee nahi, namumkin bhee hain, she does it and locates him. Then of course the twain meet and their story moves on without much complexities – fine dining, get-togethers, movie-nights etc – until Tara realises Don is still lost and this well behaved fairly successful corporate lad Ved is not someone she had met in Corsica. That’s when the story really begins. In the course of Ved-Don and Tara-Mona Darling’s story, we are introduced to a story-teller (played by the amazing Piyush Misra) who would narrate stories to Ved in his childhood (and later questions his dependence on others to create his story) for some money per hour and an autorickhaw driver (Ishteyak Khan) who is a rock-star inside but had to give up his singing dreams to marry and procreate. It’s interesting to note that while these people live a life very different from what they dreamt of, it doesn’t stop them from pursuing what interests them. The story teller tells his stories and found a customer/audience and the singer still sings, even if the source of bread and butter is something else. A fine message again, to retain the balance you need in life.
The more I think of the story, this is what I hear Ali say: After years of perseverance, patience and practice; after giving in to well-meaning advice; after learning to ignore your basic instincts – to say what you feel, do what you think and follow your heart to create your own story, after years of all this when you have finally moulded yourself as a successful person conforming to all the norms laid out to you and actually believe you are that person; may you encounter a joker. The joker will want to have fun, and to do so, will poke you, will mock you, jest at you, trick you to play along, you may want to shoo him away but he will come back to annoy you, laugh at you till you start laughing at yourself. And after you have laughed at yourself enough, so much that you are teary-eyed, you will start thinking clearly. There will be illusion and disillusion, there will be confusion, you will look out everywhere for an answer and then figure out that the answer is in you. All this will bring a lot of cathartic energy and then it is solely on you on what you do of it – channelize it creatively or just be demolished in the fire. And of course, it’s definitely great if your loved ones are still around to hold your hands all this while, in spite of you saying “Thanks, but no thanks”.
I said Ali almost nails it. Because I hope to be enchanted further by more of his work. Also because I feel some more clarity would have gone down well with his audience. Some scenes needed to be held together, for example the movie starts brilliantly — with a joker jesting a robot and hitting it hard on its heart, a notion that’s central to the story — but it remains unexplained for many and lasts only for the first few minutes of the film. We are taken to a flashback and do not come back. I think if we could get more of that metaphoric narration throughout the movie, it would make it more interesting, more articulate for everyone and world-class. The kind of clarity we saw in The Truman Show.
Nonetheless, the story and the acting by everyone is so brilliant that it would be a little disrespectful to look for the thorns with a magnifying glass. Do watch. And let me know if any of you felt any different, or same :).