One of the very best drama’s we have seen – 4.5/5.0
By: Ankur Pathak
The biggest shortcoming of a mystery thriller is that after the first viewing, it loses the bonus of repeat value. But Talaash is an entirely unique monster of a mystery thriller; the kind that engrosses the viewer so intimately that it becomes difficult for us to accept it as mere fiction. The film which revolves strongly on themes of loss and the insatiable quest to uncover the truth is at best, a sad commentary on the gloominess that surround the very nature of our lives, and how the urge to live, and happily so, only act as a façade of our closeted and dangerous inner demons.
Kagti’s screenplay involves a delightfully convoluted police investigation layered with a devastatingly powerful emotional core to it, which is what makes the proceedings disturbingly poignant, and nail-bitingly thrilling at the same time.
Opening with what are undeniably the most charming credits in recent film memory, the film has already set the tone and flavour for the story about to unspool. A city that is breathless by the day, and doesn’t sleep by the night shows an altogether creepy life in the dark where the white-collar reveal their duplicity and seedy jobs flourish with festive urgency.
The locales, throughout the 2 and a 1/2 hour running time of the film are joyously familiar, and Talaash uses the city of Mumbai as a character more than a mere backdrop. The striking imagery very well reflects the tense dynamics of the film’s three principal characters – Aamir Khan’s inspector Shikhawat, his wife, the deliberately unglamorous Rani Mukherjee and the one seductress who races up the screen with her mysterious presence, and aid – Kareena Kapoor’s Rosey.
A Bollywood star speeds up on the Worli sea-face road and crashes his sedan through the promenade and into the sea, leaping to his death brnging an untimely end to a promising film career.
Encounter specialist Surjan Shikhawat is the cop assigned to investigate the case, and he finds himself inseparably entangled in this mystery ). Over the process, pimps and middle-men, prostitutes and more of them, will eventually come in the forefront leading to what are Shekhawat’s deepest demons possibly bordering on a serious personality disorder.
More than being a thriller that fizzles off just as the twist pops out, Talaash is essentially about a man who hasn’t come in terms with loss, and possibly never will. It takes an extraordinary external case to solve the mysteries and horrors of his own life that has uprooted his marriage and taken, among other things, his sleep for a toss.
It is an incredibly smart movie, one that doesn’t believe in wasting even a second of its screen-time. The film moves with a deliberately languid pace yet brims with a sense of urgency and has a certain rhythm to it which remains consistent, and makes the drama believable.
The most satisfying elements of the films are the motifs and metaphorical hints that prove the writer-director’s immense control over their craft and their commitment to serve the audience with an appetizing suspense drama in the form of a classic whodunit.
One little detail I found extremely smart was one crucial character’s mobile phone ring tone that is in sync with the film’s background score. These otherwise overlooked things add to the consistently unsettling and eerie atmosphere, and coyly transcends the viewer from being a mere spectator to an alert participant.
Aamir Khan owns this role. His character history, influenced as it is, by Teddy Daniels of Shutter Island, makes the role heavily complex, as his strengths of being a cop challenges the very same things that he is trying to escape. His nocturnal escapades, an attempt to butcher the gloominess of a past event, one that continues to haunt him, turn out to be the ones where he is at his most vulnerable. Kareena Kapoor is the temptress, and by extension a reflection of his own troubled self. Both these performances are disturbingly well-acted, and convey varied emotions with accomplished ease. The scenes of them together are organic and intimately real. Another sub-plot that involves Rani, who is seeking help to get over the trauma of their son’s loss fits in aptly and gives this picture a superbly evocative closure, one that is the very best we have seen in a rather long time.
Talaash is a film that needs to be deconstructed in an academic as well as psychological sphere. It consists of people from two vivid spectrums – one with authority and the other who are, at most times, at the mercy of the authorities. It then goes on to explore the intricacies of their lives with shocking understanding and eventful tenderness.
I think it is one of the very best drama’s we have seen, and is unlikely to be toppled by another one anytime soon.