Talaash

** No plot revelations in this review **

Actors: Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Rani Mukherji, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Genre:  Suspense Drama
Rating: 2.5/5

Written by Zoya Akhtar & Reema Kagti, Talaash is about Surjan Shekhawat, a cop tasked with solving a freak car accident. Set completely in Bombay, involving prostitution for a backdrop, how Suri (short for Surjan) maneuvers through the case as each clue unfolds, while dealing with his own personal trauma that is constantly consuming him and his wife, forms the core of the plot.                             

PERFORMANCES:
As an Inspector who holds command over his subordinates, posing a constant threat to the Madam, using gray resources to unravel facts, while dealing with his own personal demons, Aamir fits the bill. He’s certainly no Robinhood Pandey trying to entertain you, but is a mellow-yet-brooding officer who is focused on his job. Talaash is a type of film where the screenplay is the real hero, and Aamir seemed to understand this really well. Or, Aamir didn’t really push himself enough to stand out as ‘the act’. Inspector Shekhawat is a script-oriented character, and Aamir did not associate it with any specific mannerisms, or anything particular otherwise to ingrain it in your mind – diction wise, or body language wise, his role is somewhat uninspired and rather drab. Either this or we’ve come to expect nothing short of stellar and something new each time from the perfectionist. Rani Mukherkji as Roshni, Suri’s perpetually sad wife, shoulders the role with apparent ease. The sadness in Rani’s expressive eyes gels with the status quo in her marital life even though she seldom cries. In the limited screen time that Rani gets to establish herself as a stakeholder in the backstory, her talent is right for you to assess and agree with.

Kareena Kapoor as call-girl Rosie looks the part, just that Rosie is slightly more dressed up for the part. Rosie is supposed to be the Kamatipura type and not a fancy escort (given how her peers compared), but her dress-up in the entire film seemed to say otherwise. Given Rosie’s characterization, Kareena had to be a smooth talker – someone who would have answers to every question and someone who can wrest control into her own hands in a conversation– and she has used her voice tonality excellently to effect this. Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Temur, the local pimp’s limping handyman, is accustomed to roles that are usually moderated to those of lower strata of the society. The general social awkwardness, the general fiddling around, the meddling in others’ affairs, the eavesdropping, the encounters with the powerful – Nawaz is beyond perfect. Nawaz leaves no reason to doubt that with his performance, he could have gone any beyond than he did, in purview of production’s limitations that is.

DIRECTION & SCREENPLAY:
This film is technically really very sound, The climax of this film is the dealbreaker, and I’ll suffice it to say that depending on one’s personal beliefs, the climax will have a polarizing effect on the viewer – to either like the film overall or not. Although if you are like me who likes to give credit where due, you may tread middle ground. The direction of the film is really impressive – until a point – will come to that in a bit. Director & Screenwriter Reema Kagti weaves a layered suspense drama and akin to two different looking sets of cards that are shuffled and each card is dealt to you one after another – one set being Suri’s case and the other being his own life. In the same context, Reema leaves no clues for you to predict what to expect next. Given the mood of the film, there are no dance sequences. There are 4 songs video’d  and barring one that accompanies the initial credits, the other three  are more or less shot like montages – that either develop and strengthen a character’s  constant emotions, or to progress a part of the storyline (Temur escaping hitmen and helping an older call-girl, whom he fancies, flee away).

The plot is not regressive, and you’re not bombarded with flashbacks or additional characters that become the core of a suspense story suddenly at the end, and revealed at the very end – as in stereotypical average suspense cinema. Nothing of that sort develops in Talaash. The screenplay is pretty gripping and the cause primarily is the presence of a backstory. Reema has sharply interspersed scenes belonging to each category, so really, there are two stories to think of, simultaneously vying for brain time. Coming back to the climax, which is somewhat abrupt and at which point the Direction went awry – my personal thought is that Reema & team had a stellar product at hand if final revelations hinged on a critical storyline that could have easily and potentially been extended to the product that was built until the pre-climax. The creative team overall probably set out to go a certain way with the script but may have changed plans thereafter to maximize demographic reach and returns; just a thought.

CINEMATOGRAPHY & MUSIC:
Cinematographer
Mohanan does not have a long  resume to boast, given that he’s only contributed to a handful of films, reprising Don (2006) being one of the bigger blips on his career graph –  and this until Talaash happened. Talaash could very well be the film he’d be known for his entire career going forward. The dark alleys, the dim lights, the red light district, the lonely streets, the halogen lit sea-side streets of Mumbai, a morose inspector, an unhappy wife,  a charming prostitute, the high-society topographies of Mumbai, the camera angles that help visualize eavesdropping or voyeurism from a third person view– all excellently captured to add to the awesome screenplay. Visually, Talaash is similar to Samay (2003), one of Mohanan’s other finer works. Music is by Ram Sampath – who seemed to have impressed Aamir with a separate song for each of the thirteen episodes of his telly talk show Satyamev Jayate. With his compositions for Delhi Belly, Ram proved he has his finger on the pulse of Gen Y (and Z?). His music in Talaash has a heavy western influence and each song highlights the mood of the scene, also playing a role in moving the story forward. A variety of genres touched upon, the album includes jazz (Muskaanein jhooti hai) & slow rock (Jee le zara), and the songs tend to grow on you. The background music by Ram Sampat is simply outstanding. The look & feel of a scene can be simply turned around with sound/music and Talaash has the right background sound all through. Generally having an eerie feel, even making use of natural sounds like that of sea waves, the background music perfectly complements each scene, kicking up the intrigue element by a notch.

Why 2.5/5:
The good: The film is replete with good performances, enthralling screenplay and very good music/sounds overall.
The bad: A could-have-better performance from Aamir. The direction of the film, especially after the pre-climax.  The climax. But go watch it to figure if the answer indeed lies within.

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  • "What is this..movie reviews and all? Chaa!! Do you ever think outside films?" - if this is exactly what you are itching to ask, may I interest you in my other blog Sandeepish?