I went in with excitement. It’s the first Hindi movie I watched in an American theater. And also, the one I wanted to see, given my hangover of Rockstar, destroyed naturally by Narghis Fakhri. I wanted to like it, and the first Corsica hour of the movie was killing me. But just like the music of the movie, it grows on you. My husband said, I have a soft spot, but I do think that Ranbir Kapoor needs to marry Imtiaz Ali. First I thought I’d be able to write an objective Tamasha movie review, but with the music playing in my ears on a loop now, I think it’s going to be them feelings. Stories that connect don’t necessarily speak to logical heads, but an empathetic heart. Tamasha is perhaps the most universal theme that Imtiaz Ali has experimented with. I also made a numbered list of my favorite movies from him – at the end of this post.
— Tamasha (@TamashaOfficial) September 8, 2015
The movie starts slow bringing in new Indian tourism to Corsica. Somehow adding an element of Asterix in Corsica did nothing special to me as a viewer. It could have been Socha na Tha’s Goa and still had the same effect. The writing in the that first hour of the movie feels weak. The songs don’t feel enough. I don’t see the unattainability or the grand love. Crystal blue waters, sunshine or the yellow colored houses in South of France don’t set things on fire till you convincingly show it to me, Imtiaz Ali.
The real movie starts once Deepika is back in reality in Hauz Khas. And we discover that heer to badi sad hai. The repetitiveness (not exceptional but that’s the idea right?) of expected versus experienced love started making me feel anxious. It initiated this bad feeling that things were going downhill soon. I love optimistic and happy endings. That small look at the watch before leaving was not boding well. It reminded me of the comical stereotyping of Farhan Akhtar’s Subodh. The trouble with happiness is you spending a lifetime chasing its certainty and yet, leaving the heart to desire more.
The troubled wat-wat song at a point is like a tribute to 1,2,3,4…6 and feels very Amit Trivedi-ish in Dev D. Substantiated by the wall graffiti as she submits, and he struggles. It’s a movie that belongs to the hero in a complex, but the mere presence Deepika brings in is so strong that I miss her in frames. I wish her character had more to do beyond the abstractions and the conceptual effect.
Ranbir’s almost schizophrenic dilemma of being a storyteller entrapped in the life of a mediocre manager is a treat. But I do think it’s Aarti Bajaj’s moment of glory. The editing is seamless, especially in weaving time across character-led moments and not years. Frames from the childhood with Piyush Mishra take it so many levels beyond what the movie begins with. Even the Blue man makes an appearance as Aladdin’s jinn, conceptually. Stemming from his own mind, the blue man is like a self-fulfilling prophecy. You give wings to your imagination, and it’ll oblige, awarding a satisfying balm to all your whims.
Two conversations that stand-out are one with the auto-wallah which is real and earthy, if you’ve ever spoken to someone like that in life. Reminiscent of the casual conversation Jordan has with prostitutes in Rockstar. The other conversation is naturally with Piyush Mishra as Ranbir struggles to find out how his story proceeds.
“Coward! You’ve come to ask me your own story? What are you scared of? Your story is inside you. Thief, take him out, call the police”, notes a disturbed Mishra.
As my husband said yesterday, you leave with a feeling that it’s never the destiny but you controlling how mediocre your life is. I like retaining this control. I find that to be positively affirmative to my being. I like to live like it’s my choice. In our postmortem analysis of the movie, we soon moved to a very pensive, what did you want to do as a child. I narrated my story behind my four-pillowed existence. Few sets of people who are going to pan the movie are- those who have fulfilled their childhood dreams and view struggles (now) with a sense of entitlement or disenchantment. Those that never really had any struggles. And those who are content in what they create.
But there’s a string of those who struggle each day thinking about what’s next. Or those who spend lifetimes in pursuit of a feeling that makes life less mundane. Imtiaz Ali meets these agitated souls widening up his canvas of universalities. The key doesn’t lie in being tied down by circumstances but in your own courage, which is refreshing, coming from a Hindi movie. The secret of a good story is that there’s no secret. You already know it, and want to hear it again and again (liberal borrow- God of small things)
Unfortunately, movies that talk about stories, need to have writing that matches the large canvas they create. The dialogues – specially in whatever happy moments the film showcases are weak. The dullness is portrayed far better. Ranbir’s final story needs better lines just like the opening stage scene with the robot. Irshad Kamil’s matargashti somehow suffered from forced “pop” lyrics. Just the writing in all the departments was the reason why, I don’t rank it as my top Imtiaz Ali movie. Here’s my list in order:
- Jab We Met (Because it was hilarious and very well written)
- Rockstar (Despite the poor casting decision that Narghis Fakhri was. The music was exceptional)
- Tamasha (The one I personally connected to the most and loved the cast. I liked the experimental energy. Tried plenty but weak writing and less than spectacular music)
- Socha Na Tha (Sticking to casting right and staying honest to the plot. But looking back, somehow it was trying less)
- Highway (I wasn’t a fan of casting Alia Bhatt in the movie and personally it left me emotionally wanting more)
- Love Aaj Kal (I found it frivolous)
Ranbir and Deepika make it their own and live out their characters convincingly. Yet, there’s a gap before I remember them as Ved and Tara alone. They are a fistful short of Paro (of Dev D), Piku (of Piku) and Abbaji (of Maqbool) who allow you to forget their real identities. The movie does create a strong transportation effect that takes you in a heavy self-questioning mode and that alone is reason enough to devour the experiences slowly, again.
Watching Hindi movies in Ann Arbor is such a treat, and a relief to the film starved me! If you’re new in the city like me, check out Ann Arbor, Rave for the movie. They’re playing four shows a day, no less. And naturally with a large Indian audience, expect people to be boorish enough to show up with toddlers who cry in the middle of the movie. I just don’t understand some Indians. What’s a child doing in a movie like this? Buying the ticket does not mean buying the cinema hall, and baby sitters are available everywhere!
PS: Cover image from the Tamasha official Facebook page.