Talash (1969) was made by writer director and actor OP Ralhan starring Rajendra Kumar, Balraj Sahni and Sharmila Tagore. The film is best remembered for the Majrooh-SD Burman classic song, “Tere Naina Talash Karein Jise” sung by Manna Dey based on Raga Chayanat. You will perhaps point to the spelling and say that the movie I should be reviewing is spelt as T-a-l-a-a-s-h and not Talash. Talaash is an overused name in Bollywood. It turns out that even in 1957, there was a film made that was called Talaash, starring Ashok Kumar and Bina Rai. Then In 1992, Hrishikesh Mukherji directed a TV series by the same name. The last time someone used Talaash as film title was in 2003. The crime-thriller had Akshay Kumar (which was a crime) with Kareena Kapoor and Rakhee Gulzar (which was a thriller). What is the mystery behind this obsession with the title Talaash? My hypothesis is that since there is a laash (dead body) in the word Talaash (search), it is not surprising that so many people zero in on the same name when they make a murder mystery.
Talaash (2012) stars Aamir and also features Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukherji. Whenever Bollywood actors talk about their film, they describe it as being different – “yeh film zaraa hatke hai”. Aamir describes this film as a “layered film” and not just a thriller. He describes this as a film that is also about coming to terms with the loss of a loved one.
Aamir has a way of generating buzz about his films. Aamir, 47, who did not know swimming at all, also learned underwater swimming for his character of Inspector Surjan Singh Shekhawat. Have you noticed how the most common designation of cops in Hindi movies is always Inspector (and occasionally the Commissioner Sahab). They need some HR people to go as consultants and tell the script writers about the many designations possible. Then there was the rumour that the the marketing team was trying to get Google’s search engine to show up as “Talaash” for some time to promote the film. Google apparently didn’t agree to that. That would have really been a marketing coup and benchmark.
Talaash brings together the trio of Aamir-Farhan Akhtar & Ritesh Sidhwani that gave us Dil Chahta Hai. Unlike DCH, this one is not a slice of life story. Inspector Shekhawat (Aamir) and his wife played by Rani Mukerji lose their son to a freak accident. Rani M goes into depression until a neighbour (Shernaz Patel) introduces her to a form of planchette to communicate with her dead son. In dealing with the loss of his son, Aamir becomes a guilt ridden insomniac.
One day he is asked to investigate the death of a film star who dies when his car veers off from the Sea-face road into the Arabian Sea killing him. What made him suddenly go off the edge? The search for clues leads Aamir to meet a pimp-with-a-limp played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui. The tale involves blackmail, streetwalkers, contract killers and all those characters who seem to inhabit a world that comes alive when the sun sets on the Maximum city. Mohanan – the cinematographer desrves a special mention for creating a opium like feel of Mumbai at night. The city is a heady cocktail of glamour, crime, lust and exploitation. Don’t miss the exquisite shots of Mumbai at night. It is spectacular.
The music by Ram Sampath who provided some soul stirring songs for Aamir’s TV series Satyamev Jayate and the very stylish music of Delhi Belly shows the same spark in just one song – Jiya Laage Na sung by Sona Mahapatra. That apart, the music is very forgettable.
The first half builds up very well and like all good thrillers keeps you guessing what the next twist could possibly be. Sadly, the plot gets considerably diluted in the second half and could have been edited and trimmed out with the same crispness of the first half. The parents’ grief as a subplot and layer of narration gets tiresome, annoying and seems to get in the way beyond a point. Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar’s storyline is not taut enough to take the weight of all the depression and digression. As the film runs the last lap, I felt let down with the closure. Instead of being influenced by Manoj Night Shyamalan’s style, the story could have been developed using common sense or better still – uncommon sense. It is like ending an fancy meal with the host serving stale bread.
Rani Mukerji is non descript. I think it will take her a while to wear off the effects of acting in a film like Aiyyaa. Kareena Kapoor’s mannerisms reminded me of the streetwalker’s role she payed alsmost nine years back in Chameli. Aamir does a convincing portrayal of the obsessive, insomniac cop. The one who clearly steals the show is Nawazuddin Siddiqui. See the film simply to enjoy his performance. Nawazuddin has been seen this year in three memorable appearances – one in Kahani and then again in Gangs of Wasseypur (parts 1&2). Talaash sees another memorable performance by him.
Overall Recommendation: Talaash is very watchable. The story could have depicted more originality in the resolution of the plot. It is certainly worth seeing becase of some strong performances by Aamir, Kareena and Nawazuddin. Go see it.
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