Months before Talaash released, parallels were drawn between Talaash and Kahaani. People said it was loosely based on Kahaani and that’s the reason why Aamir Khan was delaying the release of Talaash. It was said to be done so to allow the memories of Kahaani fade from public’s mind. As if public memory is very long! Then closer to its release, hundreds of rumors surfaced with regards to the film’s climax. I had an inkling of the fact that the film had something “supernatural” about it. However, watching the preview, I actually felt the film was ‘naturally super’.
Next, I had a discussion with one of the film-economics ‘experts’ over his claim “Talaash is set for a huge loss”. My contention, 1st weekend would fetch nothing less than a 45-50 cr. And, bingo! I hit it right with the film grossing nearly 48 cr in three days. I’m most sure, that the film will have a total collection of 110 crore or more. Add to it the overseas collections.
Now, without disclosing the climax, when I look in retrospect, I seem to know why the film defies all the detractors and naysayers.
The film opens to a superb screenplay and maintains its grip throughout, despite sometimes slowing its pace. But, the end is being said to be akin to “much ado about nothing (khoda pahar nikli chuhiya)”. This opinion may have a pinch of truth to an extent but the fact that the film works in spite of this makes it a directorial masterpiece. That you feel wanting for more, or something else than what its climax offers is a sign of the fact that the film keeps you glued to your seat till the end.
The performances are above par. Aamir doesn’t need a word for his performance. But, every other actor – from a Rani Mukerji to Nawazuddin Siddiqui to Raj Kumar Yadav has performed to precision. However, Kareena Kapoor is a surprise package who comes across as a prostitute full of Bollywoodish attitude or so much of fragility around her character. By climax you understand she must have had to wander in two zones to inculcate that fragility and those nuances in her character.
The screenplay seems to give up pace at times, only to surprise you the next minute. And, at times you are misled into forming opinions prematurely. But, isn’t that what good thrillers are made of? With the film halfway through, some females around my seat started whispering – “see the difference between what a woman looks for and what a man looks for, in the same circumstances of a disturbed family life. A woman tries to solve the problem while the man hunts for solace outside family.” I suggested them patience. And, poof, I again struck it right. The man didn’t find solace in adultery.
The film has lot of values ingrained and at the same time, revolves around the tales of lust, money and desires. True to its name, most of the characters are seen engaged in some talaash (search) or the other. The characters are so finely built and story provides them with proper blooming – although bit “slowly” but surely. Nuances are thoughtful. The screenplay is beautiful and the music succeeds to grab its share of your mind space.
Yet, what is the reason a section of people is seen talking all the negative things about this Aamir Khan film? Yes, more than anything else, it is the ‘thought’ of Talaash being an Aamir Khan film that makes it attract all the flak. Today, every film featuring Aamir Khan ends up being perceived as an Aamir Khan film. A film by an actor who takes all the world’s time to put life into the character and meticulously work on the details, Mr. Perfectionist. So, the popular discontent is how come Mr Perfectionist overlooked the very theme, rather genre. But, the matter of the fact is also that Aamir Khan can’t be said to have a genre that he practices or follows. He has experimented almost all the multiple forms and streams in storytelling in Bollywood. Therefore, probably, expectations are high every time Aamir is up with a film. He’s expected not to go wrong with anything. He still didn’t.
The film is certainly not an Aamir Khan genre. In fact, in a long time no mainstream or big actor has done a film of this genre. This makes it a welcome break to see a film in this genre by a star who is perfectionist too. A film well-made in the genre gives hope that more people may follow in with good films touching this theme. A hope that you won’t always have to contend with a film with low production values, kitsch sequences and an unnatural climax in the name of supernatural, made by a Ram Gopal Varma or a Vikram Bhatt. Unlike those films touching this theme, Talaash never seems to be going anywhere close to sleaze, in spite of lust and brothels being in the center of its premises. The film has neither a slap nor slapstick over the two hours something of its duration. It doesn’t give you a déjà vu, unlike most other south-inspired blockbusters of recent times that look alike with action, cuts, lingo, characterization and slapstick.
Talaash underplays a big star with the production design kept akin to a sensible low-budget film that values the script more than the star-power. The star, notwithstanding the charisma attached to him, performs as a low-profile performer actor, so well supported by his co-actors. The film defies its genre and rises so above it that gives you a real break from the recent blockbusters. Your ‘sixth sense’ may read a lot between the lines but, a well-executed soothing film with an unusual climax and a superstar has a lot of promise for near future in Bollywood.
Deepak Singh tweets@ranadeepaksingh