3 Good

Tamasha

In a life directed by various influential stories, it takes deep introspection to reveal the true path in one’s life. It's this journey of self-discovery that has been Imtiaz Ali's hallmark ('Jab we Met', 'Love Aaj Kal', 'Rockstar', 'Highway') and with his latest 'Tamasha', he attempts to portray the hardships of being oneself with and without any influences. Starring Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, this is a lively journey that has some highs and many lows in its overlong narrative that isn't quite devoid of the familiar emotions.

In the beautiful seaside town of Corsica, Ved (Ranbir Kapoor) helps the lost and helpless Tara (Deepika Padukone) and soon they decide to have some fun as total strangers without revealing their true identities. Don and Mona extend their trip and relationship to a level that takes Tara by surprise as she leaves to go home. Years pass by as she continues to live in denial of her love for Don until a chance meeting brings them back together. However, Tara soon realizes that Ved isn’t the same vivacious character she fell for in Corsica and our hero acknowledges himself as just ordinary. Several prolonged tear-jerking sequences later, we witness Ved’s rediscovery of his childhood storyteller who was the major influence in his life. In an attempt to revive his circumstances, he seeks to embody a character from another story as he had been doing all his life until he realizes that the most inspiring story wasn’t in those tales of the storyteller at all.
Ved’s was a case of unidentified self-worth and its revelation is the film’s most powerful scene. The relationship with Tara was an important trigger in Ved’s life and its resulting tragedy would take him down the path of self-realization. This fall and eventual rise of Ved is what Imtiaz Ali’s real focus was and those moments are dramatically poignant. The rickshaw driver’s story and Ved’s storytelling in front of his family were among the most mature, heart melting scenes which will be etched in memory. However, those moments are too few and too far from each other.

The real problem with all this Tamasha is that the process of relationship building and collapsing takes most of the film’s duration and it offers nothing new to the viewer. It’s just another relationship saga with Ranbir’s character being different. Deepika plays herself as she has in about 80% of her films and therefore remains the unimpressive actress that she is.
Random quotes of poetry or dialogues, followed by repetitive scenes that depict the obscurity of characters are interesting initially but the redundancy of those themes makes it all too obviously laconic. It almost feels like Imtiaz hurried onto the next project after the laboriously masterful ‘Highway’ as he hastily connected a few brilliant ideas of an individual’s soul searching journey. However, the culmination of all these ideas in the end, result in some powerful storytelling even though its effect lasts momentarily.

Piyush Mishra has the most fun with his lively dialogue delivery since ‘Gulaal’ while Javed Sheikh as Ved’s father portrays parental concern with maturity. Ishtiyak Khan, as the autowala can brag about being in the second best scene of the film. Deepika Padukone is perhaps Bollywood’s finest mystery. The happiness she portrays is always over-the-top and the sadness too banal and repetitive from one character to the next. Kangana would have certainly added much more life into Tara’s character while offering a truly explosive dynamic on screen with Ranbir Kapoor. Speaking of which, his is a performance that is well balanced with sincerity, understanding of his character’s obscurity and versatility. Ranbir can act, dance like Dev Anand in one sequence and be all stoic, straight forward, soft-spoken in another. He can be jubilant and full of life as a loverboy, sincere and humble as an employee and heart-broken as a loser. He yet again proves that he is the best among the newer gen of actors even though, his performance this time with Imtiaz doesn’t top that in ‘Rockstar’.

Musically, one can rightly expect more from the collaboration between Imtiaz Ali and AR Rehman simply based on their prior work together. Apart from the brilliant Agar tum saath ho, the soulful Safarnama and meaningful Tu koi aur hai, the soundtrack lacks crowd pleasers and memorable numbers.
Tamasha could’ve been a lot more especially with its relevant theme of societal influences on an individual’s development. While there are some great moments and strong performances, there are also some overlong sequences, nuance lacking romance and Deepika Padukone that offer nothing new to a viewer who comes with high expectations from a masterful storyteller of very human tales. Imtiaz Ali is still among the finest film-makers and Tamasha for him might end up being what ‘Delhi 6’ was for Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra; an honest attempt to tell a meaningful story that comes under commercial pressure.

6.998 on a scale of 1-10.