Talaash

December 1, 2012 22:59 9 comments

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Abhijit Bhaduri

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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.

Rating:3/5

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Read posts on Just Like That – my blog Times of India

9 Comments

  • Shubhro Mitra

    Hi Abhi

    As usual you write well and I agree with you on the reference to the older Talash, The Mumbai depiction, etc. But the storyline was just unwatchable. Frankly, I haven’t watched such a sad film for many a years. Of course I watch very few films. For me if Kahani was 5/5 then Talash was 1/5. Sorry I disagree it was 3/5, and watchable. It was unnessary to try and connect the two stories of the murder mystery and the loss of son and I know better than many of the second issue. It does did not connect while in patches it did keep me guessing but it just did not connect to the over all plot

  • Shubhro – you may have a point on that one. Maybe in an attempt to “layer” the film, they added the bit about dealing with loss. That makes the overall narration quite a force fit.

  • Abhijit,
    No I have not seen the film yet but was it really necessary to use the Sixth Sense reference?
    Please don’t let it be!

    I think you might have given the ending away!

  • Sashi – I have made amends. I don’t think it was a spoiler though.

  • Yeah,I went through your amends.Point noted.

  • Roger Ebert is perhaps the world’s greatest movie critic.
    People say you saw a film once and then went and read Roger Ebert’s review and went and saw the movie again just to see what he saw and what we missed.
    When I met Julianne Moore last Spring she made a statement that rang so true.She said that it felt good when people saw themselves in the character’s we portray and we feel less lonely in their company.
    It was primarily these two thoughts that went through my mind when despite it being very cold here in Vancouver,I dragged myself three times to the theatre to see the brilliant TALAASH.
    To understand the brilliant and innovative narrative style that Reema uses to tell this story,to see the small characters that tell so much about ourselves and how we deal with our pain.To see the minute nuances that I missed in my earlier viewing,to catch the romance of our lives that passes us by while we just try to live everyday.Each character’s face tells thousands of pained stories.And yes,Abhijit,Temoor is a brilliant character.It is just him and how desperately he wants a lover and happiness for himself.
    What a film and just to understand the depth of this film,I suggest you all go and read Subhash K.Jha’s review of this great film.
    Do a favour to yourself and go see this film again or better still like Roger Ebert said,”Bring some joy to someone.Take them to a movie.”
    Yes,take them to this movie.

  • Dear Mr. Bhaduri.

    I have read your book Mediocre but Arrogant about a year back, liked it. Since I have grown up in Jamshedpur, the book with its Steel Town setting -it was specially interesting to me.

    Discovered your blog today by chance when I was checking out online reviews of the film Talaash.I have liked the film despite its unsatisfactory end/climax/resolution. Still, on the whole, despite this seeming demerit, the film is simply one of the better movies to emerge from Hindi film circle — dislike the term Bollywood, so won’t use it.Anyway, I did find this film layered, with inner depths, not perhaps apparent in one viewing. I feel the need to visit the film again and will do so soon. I felt that Kareena sparkled and made the screen come alive, as did Nawazuddin. Perhaps, both these actors played characters better written than those accorded to Aamir-Rani. Just my opinion. Aamir was good, but slightly monotonous as was Rani –but together they gelled well, especially in their quarrel scene –which finally saw the duo sparkling and coming to life. But good that all actors leaned towards underplaying, instead of overplay and possible danger of hamming.

    I loved the music from Ram Sampath. Love Muskanein, the jazzy opening number and Jiya Laage na, too. Loved the picturization especially.

    Loved the review from Sashi.

    And yes, I do love the old Talaash song, Tere Naina. Thanks for the reminder about this, Abhiitji.

  • Abhijit, I was browsing your website and landed on this page after some time. We saw this movie just about a week back. So wonderfully promising, and yet so badly let down by its end. I wasn’t able to conclude whether it was a case of cheating or bad judgement on the part of the script-writer. But I guess I’ll give it the benefit of doubt and call it bad judgement…

    The tale of Talaash is like the work of a very gifted and talented architect who has designed a tantalizing skyscraper from the ground up, reaching into the sky….You are climbing the wonderful building, and just as you are about to reach the highest floor, some dynamite-sticks at the bottom of the building begin to go off, and instead of the breathtaking top-view that you were gasping for, the whole structure implodes, and you come crashing down…

    …What happened is, while designing the building, the architect ‘mysteriously’ built in those dynamite-sticks (which he mistakenly thought were robust pillars) into its foundations !

    Regards, Sreepathy

  • Exceptional post. As quickly as I noticed this web site I went on delicious to share some of the love with them.

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