Synopsis – Based in France, this unusual fairy tale unfolds the lives of a nomad and a tourist who gradually develop fondness for each other as they orchestrate ‘Tamashas’ all across the island.
My Take – Director Imtiaz Ali has created a brand of his own starting from highly entertaining rom-com flicks like Socha Na Tha, Jab We Met and Love Aaj Kal. For now the talented director has swayed into unexplored territory of self-realization in form of the brilliant Highway and Rockstar. Here, director Imtiaz Ali combines his genre of rom-com with self-awareness, & what is the best way to get the audience to watch the film? Reuniting the talented ex flames Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, who were last seen in the blockbuster Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. The result is genuine & mind-blowing to an extend but it is far from perfect. The film is a daring experimental style of storytelling & certainly differs in spite of love being the central theme. The trailer gave us the crux of the venture and I personally believed that the film is essentially about Deepika and Ranbir‘s togetherness and how they overcome the battle of being in a complicated and unconventional relationship. But as the film progressed, I realize that it is in truth, an out and out Ranbir Kapoor film and a story about his journey. Based on a topic touched (slightly) in an earlier Ranbir Kapoor venture (Wake Up Sid!) – break out of the norms of the society & follow a path which provides self assurance despite the monetary troubles. The film talks about one of the most intriguing philosophy of life that we as human beings tend to be mere spectators in our lives, allow others to design choices for us, stop following our own dreams and find ourselves in the shackles of the societal norms of following conventional rules. We may not be ready to explore our true potential, but someone who loves us, could take us to a great journey of self-optimization. If you look at films like Rockstar and Highway, there is this longing for freedom beyond the conventional right and wrong. Those movies had protagonists who wanted to feel the positive side of not being strangled by orthodox mindsets. The good side of the film is that Imtiaz Ali takes away the tragic angle of those concepts and presents a refreshingly real love story that becomes the motivation for a guy who was forced to “act” throughout his life.
The story follows Ved (Ranbir Kapoor) who meets Tara (Deepika Padukone) in sun-soaked Corsica, the French island that inspired the Asterix comics. Tara has come to Corsica expressly because she is a fan of the comic (she can be seen holding a copy, in case you miss the reference the first time) and as soon as they runs into each other on the island, sparks fly. The well-shod Bohemians like to play act like their favorite movie characters, and they explore the island together and share a room. They don’t tell each other their names. Since they want to keep their mutual attraction strictly family-friendly. Four years later, Tara is handling her tea empire and runs into Ved again in Delhi. What happens in Corsica has stayed there: Ved is now a buttoned-up and emotionally withdrawn corporate drone. Since Tara had fallen in love with Ved since she returned from Corsica, they begin a relationship which ends badly as Tara is facing trouble to accept this Ved who had succumbed to a conventional way of leading life, routine job. Tara wanted to highlight the point that Ved had the potential to do much beyond the routine things in his life. But Ved had a problem in accepting the external dimension of his ‘self’ from Tara. What happens thereafter? How does Ved meets his real ‘self’? How does Ved take charge of his life? How does he define his own internal dimension of ‘self’? Does he give life to the storyteller within him? How does he move out of the shackles of the family / social expectations of being an engineer, pursuing a corporate job, being part of the rat race? How does Tara’s love play a role in bringing the real Ved out? Does Ved ever feel liberated in life? If the story started in Corsica, and paths of the lead pair crossed at Delhi, where does the story reaches at the climax? Thus begins the tamasha (see what I did there). For any story, the beginning and the end is crucial. The movie is uneven in the first half with occasional speed bumps and you might think is what is wrong with the film. The film turns reasonable when Deepika and Ranbir meet again in India and becomes refreshing and likable. Moving towards the interval the film goes haphazard in its treatment and loses spontaneity. But the heart of the film lies in the post interval portion aka the break up. This is where lies the heart of the film. Imtiaz‘s handling of the dramatic portions, deserve true praise. However, the screenplay, penned by Imtiaz Ali, is of the kind which would appeal to the classes mainly. The narrative style is also a bit confusing for the audience as overlapping scenes have been used to further the tension in the drama, bad idea! Ali utilizes this love as an impetus for the genuine story – Ved’s self-disclosure and his failure to comprehend what he really needs out of life. This is the place where the film moves into a fairy-tale region and goes out of the way. There are scenes from the Ramayana where Ved envisions himself as abstract characters from all ages, describes stories to outsiders and even embeds them into his unexceptional force point presentations at work, much to the frightfulness of his manager. Ved is caught up in troubles with his family, Tara, the manager, and himself, Ved has a lot of going ahead in his life and 139 minutes long movie isn’t sufficient to cover the whole thing. The main problem with the film, well a good thing as well, is that it is not an easy grasp, at least not for everyone. This is not a foolish story with just useless fighting & Bollywood masala, but a film for those people who are intellectual and sensible. Certainly not for people who helped a film like Prem Ratan Dhan Payo cross 200 crores (domestically). It is one of those few Indian films that are in their own class.
This is one of those rare films which will grow on you over repeated watch as you discover things you may have missed. With its overlapping scenes epitomizes that whatever the story is, the emotions are the same, the world across. Imtiaz has taken a seemingly simple concept – personal conflict (facade vs who you really are) and created a beautiful narrative. The subject as a one liner is simply “follow your heart” and that might make it look too predictable and simple. But it is the way Imtiaz has constructed the characters that made me love the film. The way Ved gets hurt when Tara’s statement disturbed his inner complex and the sort of faith she shows on him looks so real. Deepika’s honest cry, Ranbir’s way of portraying the mental conflict and the less dramatic writing and visualization of that key part of the film is really the winner for me. With Corsica sequences, Imtiaz does succeed in giving us the impression of how liberating both of them were when they had that freedom of being themselves. The film will have mixed opinions, that’s for sure. There are three types of Indian movies – fun loving, pretentious and then beautifully crafted thought provoking ones. Weirdly, this film falls into all of the mentioned categories. But if you find the connection that Imtiaz tries you to find through Ved’s character (or to some extent Tara’s character), you are in for a treat. Performances wise, Ranbir Kapoor proves yet again, that he is one of the finest actors we have in Bollywood. Ranbir Kapoor is the soul of this film, its biggest strength, as he brings alive her character with not just those smart lines, but with the kind of senior actors seldom invest in their role. His impeccable act is what makes the venture interesting in the second half. He is convincing as a lost soul searching for meaning, and proves his versatility while playing the lunatic, jilted lover, don Teja, a storyteller, etc. As the man torn between his dream & parental pressure, who must overcome the odds & become who he truly is. The actor displays all the emotions, without missing a single beat. This is his best performance in years. Deepika supports Ranbir wonderfully. She enacts the love-driven young spirit with great ease & restraint. It was a great transformation of the actress and it’s been a long while since I have seen an actress cry so honestly on screen and none among the full house wanted to howl. And the on-screen chemistry between the two, is simply wow! Among the other performers, a special mention should be given to Piyush Mishra. On the whole, Tamasha is a spectacle due to its strong performances & plot points, but I sincerely wished that such a beautiful philosophy could have been executed in a much better manner through a gripping screenplay. All of us wear masks. All of us are who we are not. All of us do some Tamasha. The movie explores a character whose life is probably a much bigger tamasha and how it affects his entire being. If you see a little bit of yourself in the story, which all of us will, you will love the movie. If you don’t, you might trash it like a lot of people.
Director – Imtiaz Ali
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 139 minutes