A top-notch murder mystery with a great sense of atmosphere – 4.5/5.0
By: Nikhil Arora
An actor dies. A cop movie is born. That is the most I’ll tell you about the plot of this film but I will definitely take the opportunity to praise the actor who is responsible for some of the best films made in India. There is trend of films with big stars playing cops and giving us some of that good old masala (Right from Wanted to Singham to Dabangg to Rowdy Rathore). Every superstar is cashing in on this formula while it lasts. Aamir Khan could have also followed this trend but he choses to kill that actor and gives birth to a real cop movie into the mainstream. Aamir returns to the big screen after a hiatus of 3 years when he captivated the entire nation with 3 Idiots (2009). (Yes he did Dhobi Ghat, but you know what I mean). Year after year, he refuses to sell-out and holds true to his promise of giving us good movies. Sure he does a film like Ghajini (2008) as well but then even while he does it, he makes a mark. We all know it was the first film that crossed 100 crores, way before the industry myth of the “100 crore club” was coined. He created the trend, which he refuses to follow.
Then again, it would be highly unfair to sing praises of the actor and not give credit to the makers. Films like 3 Idiots and Lagaan were excellent films due to the talents of Rajkumar Hirani and Ashutosh Gowariker. Talaash works more so because of the meticulous execution of Reema Kagti. The atmosphere and the tone of the film are always precise, never losing focus. The agenda throughout is telling the story and telling it right. The music by Ram Sampath is old fashioned and superbly delicious. Hona Hai Kya (my favorite song from the film) is attached to a breathless chase sequence. I could notice the presence of the background score in almost every scene, which creates a mood of dread and gloom. Mohanan’s camera flirts with luscious colours and classy lighting.
The screenplay by Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti is well constructed. It conceals every bit of information, which would elevate the mystery. Yet, it gives us information, while the characters in the film are robbed of it and makes us engaged participants. Remember those yesteryear murder mysteries like Bees Saal Baad (1962)? It gives you taste of such sumptuous dishes that nobody likes to offer anymore. Recently we saw Kahaani, which was also a good thriller, but this one did what Kahaani couldn’t do for me: I cared for the characters. (Obviously an impeccable actor like Aamir Khan contributes to this, which is not saying Vidya Balan isn’t one). I remember a time in the late 90s when films like Gupt (1997) and Kaun (1999) were being talked about everywhere because of the big reveal at the end. I felt I was catapulted to those days where I don’t want to tell people what the twist was and see their reactions later. (Please don’t be a sourpuss and spoil it for people, it’s way more fun that way)
Yes, there is a twist. Your judgment of the film will depend on whether you like this twist or not. I even guessed the twist including its details and you may guess it too but instead of being proud of the fact that our minds do work, I strongly recommend you to indulge in the rewards of the film, which extend further than a fanciful surprise. (And how I love the surprise!). Thanks to the last 10 minutes of the movie, which I believe, is what makes this film more than just a thriller, is tastefully handled. It may remind you of a movie which I will not name because that would be again be a massive spoiler. Talaash is a first-rate murder mystery with solid performances. The winners here are Aamir Khan and Reema Kagti who churn out a film that is consciously quixotic and endlessly fascinating. Now can someone get this trend going? I’d like some more of those good old mysteries, please.