Saturday, November 28, 2015

Tamasha Movie Review

In Rockstar, just before the interval, the principal characters land up in a lush meadow-like ground (which is suggestively the place beyond the concepts of wrongdoing and rightdoing from the Rumi’s quote that formed the essence of the film), where they kiss each other for the first time. They go something like this: The guy thinks they should kiss because that’s what happens with a boy-girl at a point like this where they were; that’s the natural progression. The girl says that it is good that they are talking about this, but what if they “cross the line”?

It is refreshing to see how Imtiaz let his characters take a step back, sit up and objectively look at their actions and decide the “line”. This is also as if Imtiaz is teaching us how to proceed when you find yourself in a moment like this. It is perhaps for this reason why his audience find a special connection with his movies. Once his characters cross the line, they tend to dictate each other’s conscience, their objectivity diminishes. His characters are accused to be forever confused in love. His audience is even more. There’s no other reason why they resonate with the characters so much.


In Tamasha, Ali follows similar approach for his storytelling right from the beginning and takes a step further. When the two characters meet, they don’t introduce themselves. Why take the natural pattern, they wonder. And what better place than a faraway island (Corsica) for a setup like this? They too decide a line that they shouldn’t cross. When Ved (Ranbir Kapoor) couldn’t find answer to what next he should do in his stuck life, he goes back to the storyteller who had literally constructed his childhood dreams (We see that during the opening sequence which is very well thought and executed, and we see it as how a child would imagine in his head).

That storyteller (Piyush Mishra) is also a sort of guiding spirit of the film, but unknowingly. He never acknowledges kid Ved’s dedicated interest in listening to his stories. He overlooked it for money. He is a storyteller, but a petty one. He could be a thug too, who knows, who just mixes up all the stories of what little he knows, and covers up saying, “all stories are same” (Think of it, this could be Imtiaz personifying his role in this film—he is accused to make same films all over again; he claims that he knows nothing about filmmaking but is only a good storyteller). But kid Ved always bought him. He wants to be a storyteller too.

Ved needs a catalyst to – as cliché as it would sound now thanks to many such films with the same underlying issue in almost last one decade: Taare Zameen Par, Udaan, 3 Idiots, Wake Up Sid – “follow his passion” of storytelling and leave his monotonous corporate job. And since we are in an Imtiaz Ali film, we know what, or who, that catalyst would be. A girl, duh! It was Geet in Jab We Met. But unlike Geet, Tara (stunning Deepika Padukone) is hardly a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, thanks to Deepika Padukone’s performance with so much soul and heart. She is very much sorted. She has no conflicts to fight against. She is relatively quick to realise about her love, and first one to confess. She is the most un-confused Imitiaz Ali film character. She comes across with almost no flaws. But that is a flaw for the film. I wanted to see more of her, beyond what we see of her. It irks a little when we know Ali is capable of fleshing more out of his female characters.  

Ved, when not on exotic vacations, is a product manager and an urban product himself. He does everything what is expected from him, not what he wants to. There comes the dichotomy of life. And that territory is Ali’s homeground. He hits it out of the park, making this issue directly talk to you. His films come with an invisible billboard saying it loud: “You Have One Life”. And those who love him buy ticket to see this billboard every time, only to be re-assured about life and get heart-broken at the same time. Ved is trapped in the same urban jail that Jordan wanted to escape, beyond of which Veera hadn’t seen anything before getting kidnapped. These characters are inherently urban given the time and space they belong to, Ali attributes them with his idea of love and freedom, and make them un-urban. Like how Shammi Kapoor’s character says about Jordan, “Yeh bada jaanwar hai, aapke pinjre mein nahi aayega”, Tara too calls him a jaanwar at one point. The storyteller too takes his story forward suggesting him to go to mountains or jungle where innocent animals live.

My only problem with Ali’s narrative is that he sometimes tries to over-explain things. Sometimes even through songs. And that is baffling. He is one rare contemporary director who pictures song on screen beautifully like no other (except Vishal Bhardwaj maybe). Looks like, he thinks some scenes through songs at script level. Like Wat Wat Wat in this one. Drunk Ved, in a small-talk with a rickshaw driver realizes even he is trapped in the same urban jungle, who otherwise was a singer in Allahabad. He imagines him singing Bhojpuri song on a gaudy stage set, while lying under a tree and his own story goes on a different track at the same time. This is the most wonderful sequence in the film. There’s even heartbreaking Tum Saath Ho which is very well picturised. But then there’s Tu Koi Aur Hai which spells out everything, and comes across as forced. Then there’s an out-of-place Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai that keeps cropping in unnecessarily. Why do we need a parallel stage song when the entire film is a realization of another stage show— which was all set to fall back on whenever the need be? Even the introductory act of that stage show is an explanation of the film. There’s use of title cards too. When did he need them to show passage of time, or to explicitly state “flashback” when he could it so organically, like in Rockstar?

These could be cringeworthy and major drawbacks in another filmmaker’s film. Ali’s films are larger than his filmmaking. He is a storyteller more than a filmmaker, and like Ved, we find ourselves going to him despite of him telling us the same story. And sometimes to even seek solutions of our lives.

3 comments:

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Meghana Hasabnis said...

Simply love the way you interpret Imtiaz Ali's movies.. All your other reviews are also absolutely engaging.. You put your thoughts beautifully into words! :)