Night Vision in Talaash

    MAJOR SPOILERS THROUGHOUT (also beware of the thread that follows)


In a way the search is a bit of a red herring. A set of key exchanges between the story’s haunted protagonist and his mysterious muse underscore this and in turn distil the essence of the film. Rosie sardonically reflects on how a girl can simply disappear without anyone caring enough to figure out what transpired and Suri frustratingly mutters that the key to the mystery is before him but he cannot see it. Even as the film maintains a mostly compact noir narrative focused on unraveling the mystery at hand it is also laced with a rich political subtext. The opening credits superbly set up these concerns. The fairly standard choice of using abstract compilation shots to introduce a major metropolis is certainly on display here but much more so is the decision to focus on specific figures, representatives of the city’s social substratum. So much of the film is about specters in every sense and this includes those anonymous characters glimpsed at the very beginning. The specters among us — those marginal lives not often seen or heard. Those always on the borders of vanishing. When we do not see those around us let alone engage with their lives we turn them into ghosts. There is a politics of disappearance. Suri’s blindness is ours.

Talaash is the second major production in consecutive years out of Bombay, following Dum Maaro Dum, that presents a viscerally dark portrait of India’s metropolitan underbelly and in doing so turns the page on a triumphalist contemporary imagining of the nation-state and its urban spaces. Both films use established Hollywood suspense formats to fashion vastly different narratives. A detailed comparison of the two is not possible here but some common elements might be highlighted. In each instance an ‘un-dead’ agent of the law, a character never having recovered from deep persona trauma and habituated to leading a spectral existence between life and death. A twilight zone of sorts which then enables each protagonist to begin an odyssey through a near-underworld metropolis with its carnivalesque blend of half-alive and half-dead souls, and a landscape populated with a lurid series of depictions and encounters. In each case the solution is right before the hero’s eyes and yet the haze of that world keeps it completely concealed. Personal loss finally is always a conduit through which a greater socio-political economy operates. Dum Maaro Dum is bleaker still. There is no moment of rebirth for the protagonist, no ultimate reconciliation with his demons. Death when it finally comes is not too disappointing and not entirely a stranger either. The film’s many threads get untangled at the end but there is no real closure. Talaash meanwhile allows its own hero a moment of catharsis and authentic revelation. Perhaps a happier life awaits him but the ending in this sense is just a chance and nothing more definitive. Conversations with ghosts do not easily lead to promised lands of inner peace.

Through all this the movie’s remarkable gender politics ought not to be missed. It is a work dominated by clearly-etched female characters. There are important male figures here without doubt but they are in almost every instance less interesting than their female counterparts. Suri is no exception to this rule. His own triangle involves a more knowing and emotionally better-calibrated spouse and the ethereal but ambiguous figure who keeps punctuating his odyssey and is of course the reason the entire plot comes about. Then there is Teimur, clearly a galvanizing element throughout the narrative and the one who performs the story’s truest act of charity by the end, in his own relationship with a wiser, more nuanced woman. Perhaps the only really happy couple of this world! But even among the lesser parts the women elicit greater empathy than the men. It is in this setting that the consequences of men and their politics is so starkly obvious. It is fitting that a brothel and its seedy environs are so crucial to the story. And at a parallel level a critique of ‘India Shining’ pervades the entire narrative. Not surprisingly a soft-spoken, clean-cut corporate male figure is in a way the ultimate villain here!

The visual registers of Talaash are most successful when the director moves away from the somewhat more realist interiors and surroundings of the apartment building and in the same vein the police station, both spaces of course necessary to the tale, and creates quite often an expressionist dreamscape through many of her night shots. Along these lines the exchanges between Suri and Rosie are often suffused with a brand of surreality. Finally the actual site of the key accidents is also appropriately creepy and though a bit more reliant on horror conventions manages to provide a near-mythic anchor for the film’s mystery to unfold. The atmospherics of this work are instantly seductive but are also equally in sync with the unease that animates so much of the narrative.

One might nonetheless quarrel with some of the decisions made. The film is much more purely focused on its central narrative in the first half. In the second half Kagti broadens her canvas a little bit to tie up all the loose ends but in doing so the subplots tend to shift attention a bit more than is perhaps optimal. More importantly the investigation at the heart of this film becomes a bit desultory. Simply dependent on Suri’s chaneling of his inner demons and his ability to keep running into Rosie. Much as the tragedy in his past might have been examined less expansively. It is certainly true that all of these elements add a much deeper layer of emotional resonance than would otherwise have been the case (here once again the DMD contrast is somewhat instructive). And without doubt these choices do not really unsettle the film in any significant way. However the leaner narrative in the first half keeps the balance just right because it is always singularly focused on the case. The second half needs many more ‘asides’ to get the job done. In a similar sense the songs in the earlier part of the film are very fluidly integrated while in the second they seem unearned at points. But again all of this never loosens the essential grip of the film right down to its climactic (admittedly ‘stock’) moment which creates the impact the story has been building up towards. A couple of rather cheesy moments beyond this point though were completely avoidable. First of all the ‘mermaid’ sequence that follows the final car crash (among other things Rosie swims with heels!) and then later on the rather implausible skeletal hand that turns up in the grave. These are not unimportant blemishes on a film otherwise very tastefully handled.

One might also have a grouse with Aamir’s performance. On the one hand he is very much in keeping with the mood of the film. He is a specter of sorts and his inaccessibility if not impenetrability are well-tuned to his part and the world he operates in. But even accounting for this there are moments involving his character that call for more nuance and range. His economy is wonderful in terms of setting up his character but Aamir is not quite able to breathe within that more constricted space. Compactness in a performance need not run the risk of monotone. This is a conviction performance by the actor and it is enough to hold attention but it lacks finer gradations at key points. Kareena’s conversely is arguably her best outing to date less so on account of superlative acting instincts and mostly because her current gesturality seems to find a fortuitous match in the character. A spirit who has seen everything and returned to exact a revenge might conceivably justify a level of complacency and invulnerability that Kareena’s more earthly characters elsewhere cannot. But she is the film’s scene stealer quite often. Talaash even otherwise is packed with effective performances. The brothel characters have more showy parts and are harder to miss on this score but Rani Mukherjee comes up with an appropriately quiet turn that is a well-considered counterpoint to Aamir’s own choices here.

True to its themes Talaash haunts the mind. I have been drawing parallels with DMD but these are the two major productions I have liked most in the last two years. Both represent skillful examples of how a rooted director attuned to the best global trends in the medium might fashion a very compelling work, using established genres and canons of film-making but also ‘localizing’ these towards more responsible ends. Talaash easily adds another chapter to the wonderfully luminous career of Aamir Khan over the last decade, it marks yet another milestone in his own very responsible choices over the same period. Reema Kagti’s is that rare major production out of contemporary Bombay that creates a genuine world. Irrespective of one’s eventual judgment it is a work to be absorbed and revisited.

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156 Responses to “Night Vision in Talaash”

  1. omrocky786 Says:

    Great read Satyam, I liked Aamir’s performance quite a lot followed by Kareena’s… agree on the rescuing scene being cheesy, the nawazduin chase sequence was a bit too long but overall kept me engaged thruout, My wife did not like the twist after the grand buildup but I liked it…THe BGM was first class…

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    • thanks much Rocky…

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      • Again a very insightful and cogent piece, but i’m not amazed as you keep coming up with such acumen analysis all the time, so quite used to it. My hopes have not been belied by the long wait with this perspicacious assessment of the movie. Thanks for providing mortals like me with such a gem of a piece.

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    • I thought the twist was completely logical given the film’s concerns. This is what seems to have polarized opinion even among many people who’ve liked the film but the film offers clues towards such a resolution throughout.

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    • Bachchan1 to 10 Says:

      Same here Om, I loved aamir’s performance, However thought kareena was mindblowing (and I actually dont like her at all, Don’t think she has done anything good besides JWM. Yeah, we all knew what the Twist will be, But it was brilliantly shot, and the BGM when the Twist happens, is just awesome, Everyone in my theater was clapping when that happenned. I give full credit to the director for the way she executed that scene.

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      • omrocky786 Says:

        the girl ( 25 year old) sitting next to me jumped from her seat when the twist came ….agree on the BGM at the time of the twist..
        I liked Kareena in Heroine as welll…..

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  2. omrocky786 Says:

    I thought Great Bong has summed it up well in two lines-
    Talaash. As a thriller, weak. As a study of grief, spectacular.Recommended watch. Again. The main food: tepid. The wrapping: Spectacular

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  3. Have not yet seen the film, so I’ll have to wait to read this, but psyched it’s got your seal of approval.

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  4. This review is as haunting as the movie.

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  5. Bachchan1 to 10 Says:

    What a wonderful insight on the film, Haven’t read a better piece on the movie other than this. And the comparison (whatever little there was) is so apt and fitting. One of your better pieces Satyam sir, and Thanks for the simpler language this time around. I was actually able to pick it up in one read. Or maybe I am getting better. LOL. Thanks Sir. wonderful piece.

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    • thanks as always.. you give me too much credit!

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    • I think first couple of paras were harder to comprehend 🙂

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      • yes I need to start writing more clearly! My only point though is that the formats of these films are not new in the sense that we can all references scenes or plot twists of story-telling styles in these films to Hollywood movies and so on. But rather than simply offer a collage of such moments these films try to re-think the Indian present using these otherwise familiar choices. Both films are of course thrillers/suspense narratives. But both also offer a very dark take on the present. Those aspects of urban life, those kinds of characters, those situations that are otherwise not very commonly seen in mainstream productions. There’s a great deal of subversion in this sense. So again in Talaash the very gentle corporate guy who stands at the top of this otherwise very disturbing event and many of those unsavory characters he controls. You see his office and it’s the quintessentially sleek corporate environment. For that office to come about some people have to live in brothels and by exploited by Kejriwal and his friends! Now this might seem like a rather blunt way of framing it but it’s true. The opposite idea is often an imaginary position. Where you can have a certain economic progress, where you can also have a loosening of old social prejudices and so on, where the negative consequences of some of these decisions are purely coincidental. In other words there are two moves here — to either say those on the margins have nothing to do with citibank opening shop everywhere or to say that there are always people on the margins and since that is a constant again there is no connection between the two.

        But there is always a link. How society is ordered depends a great deal on who is doing the ordering. So while there might always be those on the margins ‘who’ gets marginalized can vary in different ages. Much as those countries that were colonized by say the British were not paradises before the latter show up. However the social and political ills they now exhibit owe a great deal to the way the British refashioned these societies. The marginalized are never an abstraction but it is a certain ideological position that defines people as such to evade responsibility. Again a classic example. When you build a dam somewhere which is of course necessary for ‘progress’ in one sense you end up dispossessing very many people who then cannot pick up their lives elsewhere for various reasons. Such people might then appear as marginal kinds in a major city and might seem completely unexceptional. Except that they aren’t. They are there for a reason. we have to then look at that entire thread — who built the dam? Why? For whom? Were those who were affected the same as those who benefited ultimately from the dam? So on and so forth. In a way this whole Marxist point is a bit like a mystery. You have to unravel the entire chain of events. which is why this bit of commentary in Talaash is crucial. It isn’t just a mystery, it isn’t just a horrible event at the root of it. It’s also a power structure that makes such events routine.

        On this score I found Shanghai completely lacking even though it had the very same impulse. Because this ultimately confirmed what people believe about politicians anyway. That they’re corrupt, shadowy figures who pull the strings (Z with its post-war bi-polar world references operated on a grander scale). No one in India is disturbed by this perspective. Not saying it was a bad film or anything. leaving aside the comparison with Z it was fine. But it doesn’t do anything unexpected.

        On the second paragraph maybe another time. This response will become longer than the piece!

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        • great piece, very insightful! can’t say i disagree on anything, including the missteps in the second half where some false notes are struck.
          but i guess the film has so many things to offer that it didn’t bother me so much. can’t say anything about the dmd comparison as i haven’t seen the film but you are so right about the social commentary. it’s astounding that a film like this ends up doing it so much better than say a madhur bhandarkar one. right from the opening credits too, where each frame is almost like a short story. all the ‘marginalized’ characters are presented with such sensitivity here, so they don’t end up as caricatures. this is at its core a story about inner demons and lost, forgotten souls; so the ‘ethereal’ feels right here somehow. in almost any other movie, this would have annoyed me no end. so it is really to the credit of the film-makers when they can pull something like this off (which is what separates b grade horror films from the sixth sense, a point that was lost on some retarded ‘critics’)
          and i haven’t liked kareena or rani so much in a long time. they are both excellent performers, if only they’d realize smaller roles like these are better than full-length lead parts or even so-called female-oriented ‘heroine’ & ‘aiyaa’. they are both so effective here.

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          • “and i haven’t liked kareena or rani so much in a long time. they are both excellent performers”
            Good point
            Not sure if it will be palatable to the Indian audiences but a full blown ‘lesbian’ angle ( between rani/kareena) with psychoneurotic overtones would have truly added the much needed ‘cutting edge’ …
            It would have been the first of its kind in Indian cinema –haven’t seen ‘fire’ but I think a ‘housewife-prostitute’ angle is truly unique and original
            Add in a jealous seething frustrated aamir and one has a truly auteuristic film –anyhow…

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          • The housewife and the prostitute–talaash(alternate version)

            The script Idea/brief is that
            Along all the ‘lesbianism’ & associated physicality, the ‘housewife’ teaches the prostitute the ‘virtues of homely life’
            Simultaneously, the ‘prostitute’ trains and grooms the housewife in–what else ?!
            The male protagonist (whilst indulging in threesomes) “learns” various new skills and notes these behavioural changes
            By the end of the film–the prostitute becomes the housewife and vice versa –much to the amusement of the male protagonist (& the audience) 🙂

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          • thanks very much Antya.. I can’t say that what I point out as problems bother me including what I said about Aamir’s performance. In this sense the distinction I always bring up is one where for want of a better word one takes a work (here this movie) as ‘serious’, one likes it or not to various degrees, and then (this is the important bit) one debates it. So Talaash as you have pointed out offers a lot to get involved in in terms of discussion. How much one likes it is less relevant. If someone called the film a complete failure I’d have no issue with it provided the same kinds of discussions could be conducted. Ultimately the material either enables a serious discussion or it doesn’t. Now of course non-serious works can also be read in a cultural sense as markers of various social trends etc. I think KKHH is a non-serious film which nonetheless has certain implications. The latter can be examined without in any way contradicting the former claim. And to expand this even further I’d say (not very originally) that only ‘problems’ are interesting. Deewar can be called a great film but that’s stating the obvious. Completely useless to most discussions. However if one starts debating Deewar interesting things happen.

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  6. omrocky786 Says:

    The one thing I really liked was the scene where Aamir gives justification to continue investigation to his superior……It sets the tone that he is not consumed by just one case for NO particular reason……
    Also the scene where aamir is thinking what all he could have done to avoid the tragedy was very well done…

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  7. Spoilers
    I liked the part about ghosts. For us many things which do not affect us directly do not exist. Like ghosts they haunt us sometimes when we read something in the newspapers.
    We were saved as the ghost not wearing the typical white, holding a candle and other tidbits.
    I wished suri ended up with the ghost by drowning. But then it would have done injustice to the visible person, the wife!

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    • I too think a darker end might have benefited the story much as I didn’t care all that much for the whole seance bit beyond a point. Having said that these are compromises one makes for a commercial film. Can’t blame anyone for this.

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      • Sir Arthur Conandoyle, inspite of all his reasoning and logic in his Sherlock Holmes adventures,used to sit in seance sessions and believed in the paranormal. How contradictory! What Sherlock Holmes would have said? Maybe, ‘elementary my dear Watson, my creator is trying to find answers in his own way’.

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        • An even better example is Newton’s who believed in all kinds of occult practices and black magic and the sort and actively dabbled in all of this stuff! These things are not as contradictory as it might seem. Notice how in our own technology-obsessed age the greatest fundamentalisms and religious obscurantisms thrive. What happens is that the more one is immersed in a materialist universe, and the more one banishes any idea of ‘God’ to the margins as archaic belief, the more one allows for cheap forms of spirituality and similarly violent modes of belief. Both are ‘impotent’ attempts to reclaim the horizon of belief or a world in which God and religion were the ultimate ‘guarantors’ of meaning. and so with Newton the more ‘rational’ he became with all his discoveries the more he was interested in these occult practices. Being purely descriptive here by the way and not endorsing some kind of nostalgia for older ages of religion. In the same vein the worldwide web etc also feed the same impulses of neo-spirituality. when one is most immersed in these virtual media one finds it hardest accept that there is nothing behind the virtual surface pulling the strings.

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          • The cheap forms of spirituality. I think some are frustrated that they just cannot access god and thus turn to all these forms where they think they are communicating with ghosts or whatever. Shortcut to (spirit)uality.

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  8. Amazing piece Satyam. Especially ur points on the DMD parallel, the opening credits as well the twilight zone were bit of an education for me. And on the ‘closure’ bit made a point here https://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2009/07/18/the-elegiac-deer-hunter-tips-coppolas-apocalypse/#comment-198298

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    • thanks much Saurabh.. you made the same reference yourself with respect to DMD and even Zanjeer and in fact the whole chain (!) could be drawn out a bit more. Vijay in Zanjeer is haunted by a nightmare with very ‘gothic’ coordinates. The horseman through the fog, the dangling chain, the horse bellowing and so on. A level of angst pervades the film. I’ve always felt this was Mehra’s purest film. It certainly isn’t a very hard line to draw from Zanjeer to DMD and now Talaash (amongst lots of other Bombay movie milestones).

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      • Bachchan1 to 10 Says:

        I also remember Saurabh drawing a fine comparison to that one scene with Shaan, (I felt the same while watching the movie). Not just htat she used the same tool for his escape, But Kagti actually shot one scene of Nawazudding peddling the cart with both his hands just like Abdul, The shot is very similar to shaan if not exact.

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      • Agreed. And I think Talaash’s biggest strength is its tonal consistency. And while I do think Talaash has some fine bgm and camerawork I will easily prefer Midival Punditz and Amit Roy’s work in DmD. And finally while Aamir is effective here he never really makes the character and the role his own unlike Abhishek in Sippy’s film. Infact lemme also say that since Om Puri’s sterling perf. in Ardhasatya (and probably Om and Nasser in Drohkaal- Nihalani had a fascination for Khaki vardi, Bachchan in Dev is another great example) Abhishek’s act in Dmd is the finest portrayal of a cop in bwood (I do have a weakness for both Dutt in Kurukshetra and Aamir in Sarfarosh. AB in Zanjeer ofcourse remains the gold standard)

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        • Bachchan1 to 10 Says:

          I agree with you on all counts there Saurabh, would like to add Bachchans cop act from Khakee here too. Maybe, I am exaggerating, but after zanjeer I thought the best cop act was in Khakee, and rest can follow

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        • I’m bemused by the comparisons of cop characters in the past with Aamirs Talaash act! His cop character is very different from the ones who had previously played it. His is more nuanced and subtle than say Sarfarosh or Khakee one, where there is enemy in black and white, but here in Talaash, his internal struggle as a father who finds himself the culprit for not being able to save the life of his child, takes the front seat, while his professional duties are relegated to the back seat. So even when he is trying to unravel the case, his internal conflict and demons keep coming back to him, so subconsciously he is carrying that guilt all the time. So his is not purely a cop act in the real meaning of the word, but a profession, which could be supplanted with any other profession ie. a detective or a sorcerer. So in my humble opinion, he portrayed the role with right kind of poise and gravitas required of him.

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        • Another performance, albeit of a slightly crooked bizarro cop, which I loved was Nic Cage in Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant. Cage can play the ‘man whose head is going to explode any second’ as good as anyone

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  9. Good read. I agree movie could have ended 10 minutes earlier and increased it chances of repeat audience. But Then I was reminded that most of the people have difficulty understanding flow of the movie if it becomes Barfi! 🙂

    Agree on Aamir part also. I think moustaches were kind of problematic which hide some of the minor emotions like wry smile.

    Teimur chase was not part of main story so that could have been trimmed. But I liked that chase 🙂

    ps – And music was superbly integrated.

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  10. tonymontana Says:

    great read as always, satyam

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  11. On that note someone mentioned something about staying after the end credits. Unfortunately I didn’t. So would like to know what it was that I missed.

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  12. Great stuff,Satyam.
    And agree a lot. I also felt that the investigation part got lost in second half and Aamir’s performance while quite efficient and effective, doesnt reach that next stage. I think that is his limitation as an actor. He is competent for sure but rarely brilliant. Except for some moments when he really shines tho not in this movie.
    Am glad Kareena is getting here due as I have always felt that her diva act off screen notwithstanding, she is a talented actress. And,a;ways good to see Rani on screen. I definitely want to watch it again and two days later, I feel I like the film even better than I did right away after watching it. Kangti has handled some portions really,really well. Look forward to seeing here next film. Whenever that happens.

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    • Bachchan1 to 10 Says:

      “Look forward to seeing here next film. Whenever that happens.”

      Looking at her past record, something tells me that her next may not be a straight forward film. in HTPL she had that superhero element to it, this being supernatural, Next one I feel will also be something out of the box.

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    • omrocky786 Says:

      Rajen sir – I would give equal credit to Zoya, Aamir, Farhan, Prasoon and Ram Sampat…I think RK alone would not have been able to do this…….there were talks of reshoots too…..

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    • thanks Rajen.. and yes I too am really looking forward to another viewing.. and Kagti’s next.

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  13. Btw many have been rightly pointing out how Talaash is a ‘suspense’ film but then aren’t suspense and mystery sub-genres belonging to the ‘thriller’ genre itself? I might be wrong but this is what I know.

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  14. Loved reading your take and the best part: you didn’t lose me at all in the *complicated* paragraphs! I too felt Aamir’s performance could be summed in one expression but on more reflection, I felt Katgi could have taken some inspiration from Ghosh (Kahaani). For instance inspite of all pain and revenge bidiya is carrying, the character also plays footsie with Parambrata’s character. Few seance sessions and lo and behold, Rani’s pain is all gone or ghost saving Aamir in last scene was quite a strech..Aamir’s dialogues with Kareena corney/cheesy (can’t believe Kashyap wrote them). On Kareena, I completely agree “Kareena’s conversely is arguably her best outing to date less so on account of superlative acting instincts and mostly because her current gesturality seems to find a fortuitous match in the character.” The role fits her standard-staple acting style performed in every film. Overall I felt a bit cheated.. Rosie/Simran switcharoo and Nawaz/Timur also able to see the ghost and many loopholes to list!! However I do want to see the movie again at some point. 🙂

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    • Bachchan1 to 10 Says:

      “Rosie/Simran switcharoo and Nawaz/Timur also able to see the ghost”

      Hi Di, But wasn’t that the point, She actually appeared in front of those that she WANTED them to see, Hence those accidents? That’s why when timur is about to die, She had to tell him somehow that dude you didn’t help me out, you were friend. Fill me in if you feel otherwise.

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      • bachu, I understand that aspect of the supernatural (of selecting who you want to be seen etc) but switching names is pulling wool over audience. Maybe RK could have done away totally with name or introduced twin sister who came to take revenge for her look alike sister and I would have taken that as more ‘convincing’ and the two names would have made sense (older sister is simran). I liked the supernatural suspence of 6th sense much better where I didn’t feel cheated at all and felt it was done superbly. Watching the ghost saving aamir, I felt a sense of deja-vu..I have seen this before but cannot remember which movie as of now.

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        • Bachchan1 to 10 Says:

          Hmm. Interesting. Convincingly told.

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        • Bachchan1 to 10 Says:

          But Di, isn’t the twin sister plot very cliche? I mean haven’t we seen that umpteen times? Also, i understand it’s a good idea to not give a name to kareena’s character, but then there would be an open window for the audience to gauge that and they would figure out the twist well before the climax. No doubt, your query is legit, that hey you cheated me, But arent most of the suspense drama’s cheat the audience at certain point. For example (SPOILER ALERT FOR SAMAY) In Samay they NEVER show jackie shroff till the very end. It doesnt give the audience a chance to resolve the mystery? No?

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          • Bachchan1 to 10 Says:

            Meant Solve the mystery.

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          • The name of the movie I now remember is “what lies beneath” where the last scene is ‘inspired’ from. BTW have you ever seen prostitutes from kamatipura wearing backless dress and polished hindi? What did you think of dialogues translated from pure english (I won’t bite you; mai katungi nahi) etc? The underbelly (of mumbai) was very bollywoodized underbelly not a realistic underbelly…so it is neither a ‘rooted’ movie nor a classy suspense thriller.

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          • Bachchan1 to 10 Says:

            But I thought you were questioning the ability of the director on how she unfolded the suspense? And for that matter, how you felt cheated with her trick that she played on the audience? The musings you give above are just petty things (yes, I agree dialogues werent the best). And I am sure she is allowed to take some cinematic liberties here with kareena’s wardrobe etc..But the main point of the whole discussion is about should the director keep you in the dark completely even if its tricky, I say yes, Cause at the end of the day Its a suspense drama, why the heck not? If you goby that, then I think Hitchcock fooled us too, with never showing the mothers face in Psycho, isn’t tht the point thought?

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  15. Like VB a lot but didnt feel her performance in Kahaani was exceptional. She did full justice to it but again didnt feel it was exra special. I do believe that she is capable of even more but the Kahaani role and performance didnt rise to a magical level.

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  16. superb read satyam. “Kareena’s conversely is arguably her best outing to date less so on account of superlative acting instincts and mostly because her current gesturality seems to find a fortuitous match in the character. A spirit who has seen everything and returned to exact a revenge might conceivably justify a level of complacency and invulnerability that Kareena’s more earthly characters elsewhere cannot. But she is the film’s scene stealer quite often”. that is so true.

    I will have to watch DMD now that you praise it so much here.
    Btw, what did u think abt that second last song filmed on Nawaz? Hona hei kya…

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  17. Satyams return to his ‘roots’ piece

    Great to see this ‘talaash’ piece sort of represents a sort of ‘homecoming’ for Satyam after a search /box office shenanigans etc –much like the protagonists …
    I’ve felt that this is where Satyam comes into his own
    Also these work best as analytical pieces after a movie-viewing experience than the “should u watch this movie?” ones
    Besides this reason, have also not read this yet bcos of the ‘spoilers’ (if any are left!)

    Incidentally, the best satyamesque passage here doesn’t lie in the actual piece (I think) but in the thread below
    The one that begins with “An even better example is Newton’s who believed in all kinds of occult practices and black magic and the sort and actively dabbled in all of this stuff! These things are not as contradictory as it might seem. Notice how in our own technology-obsessed age the greatest fundamentalisms and religious obscurantisms ….” That is perhaps the best portion here…

    The other problem with pieces of this quality are that they start making the film it is on look a bit paler in comparison and somewhat ‘unworthy’ of such critical assessment –remains to be seen for me if talaash fits the bill…

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    • No, you’re right. Such critical attention should really be reserved for gems like Cocktail.

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      • Hahaha
        Btw Satyam that piece on Newton was truly awesome –not joking
        I suggest that the paragraph on newton & fundamentalisms and religious obscurantisms be integrated into the actual piece–it doesn’t deserve to lie in a thread..
        its truly a brilliant portion
        As for the actual talaash piece, have just scanned bit read it (suspect u have written better pieces..)
        And also I’ve a bad habit of speaking the truth
        But a ‘back to form’ one nonetheless– the point is that I’m a bit difficult to please (given your high standards) & I’ve read much much better pieces from u 🙂

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        • thanks Alex.. can’t really fit it into the actual piece as it’s not really connected. On the piece itself there are probably just a few pieces from all the stuff I’ve written on films that I am satisfied with in any important sense. I’d say they’re less than a half dozen! I’m serious. Actually prefer some of the impromptu comments far more.

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    • thanks much Alex.. do me careful about going through the thread though as there as spoilers.

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  18. My other questions to satyam–

    A) where do u fit in talaash as a film and performance in the careers of aamir and Kareena
    Note that I didn’t ask rani—since she has already given her best in/to ‘black, (& aditya chopra most probably)

    B) how much of this film is kagti and how much aamir khan?–though I agree it is sometimes difficult to tell..

    This question is pertinent bcos of a certain ‘gap’
    The ‘gap’ between DCH & Lakshya/don
    RDB & D6
    Sarfarosh & (don’t know the name of that flick by Mathhan)
    Lagaan & swades/ JHss

    C) some ‘fragile elements’ I know are trying to evade talaash with the excuse of a ‘scary’ film that will trouble @ nite …
    And hence making a case for the likes of SLP, twilight–how ‘scary’ is talaash (if @ all)

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    • It’s hard to come up with absolute statements so soon after a film’s release but I do think this will become one of my very favorite Aamir films. It has certain qualities that I’ve very partial to. Though I wouldn’t necessarily assert this as a critical matter it might well become my favorite film from this entire period of Aamir’s career (beginning with Lagaan or even going back to Sarfarosh or something). I do like almost all the films in this sequence for one reason or another but there are some that I admire more than I like them. There is also something like RDB which I’ve never particularly liked very much. Lagaan is certainly a perfectly made film. DCH is a very influential work though again not one of my favorites. Anyway it would be hard to go down the whole list but I guess I am quite comfortable even at this point just re-stating that Talaash might well become my favorite film of his. But again this should not be confused with a critical opinion.

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      • it was a pleasure to read your review. now looking forward to GF’s and Qalandar’s. my fave thing about this blog is when a good film releases it brings out all the best of the writers. anyway on Aamirs best films, this would be my personal fave list:

        1. Rangeela
        2. Lagaan
        3. Earth 1947
        4. Mangal Pandey- The Rising
        5. AAA
        6. JJWS
        7. Sarfarosh
        8. Talaash
        9. RDB
        10. QSQT

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  19. Loved the review, this is a great reading of the film. However, I still find it’s not successful enough as a pure mystery which is what it wants to be first and foremost. The twists are telegraphed too clearly, and anyone who is half-awake would be able to guess them about half way into the film. Or maybe I have just seen too many mysteries. I found Kahaani more satisfying on that level.

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  20. SPOILER

    Having said that, I had no problem with the supernatural aspects of the film.

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  21. I would take TZP and Ghajini as my all time favorite Aamir films. They are just complete Hindi films in my opinion, with great, cathartic narratives.

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    • yes I love both those films. Will also admit that both films are perhaps less blemished than Talaash.

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    • Ghajini does not ask you any question or demand your patience, it is one or maximum 2 time watch, but Talaash belongs to another stratosphere. And here i’m talking about Hindi films and Aamir films in particular. It really blown me away and i would rate it among 3 of Aamir’s best in totality and 5 of Aamir’s best roles in his career spanning 28 years (he did Holi in 1984 as a supporting cast).

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  22. Forgot to mention this earlier but I loved the title track and then Jee le. The other songs were fine too but the ones in the second half were I think less adroitly handled in the narrative.

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  23. Satyam,
    To say Its Good write up is stating obvious, its more welcome after long sabbatical…

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  24. This is a brilliant piece Satyam. You should tweet it to Reema Kagti @kagtireema, she just tweeted that not many people seem to be understanding the message of her film, and I’m sure that she would be delighted to read such a masterful analysis of the movie. 🙂

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  25. This review is from male point of view.

    When women write reviews, they rather dwell on the story or script more and their vision is more on the emotional side.

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  26. This was a terrific read Satyam, the best on the film that I’ve come across. I see where you’re coming from pretty much everywhere even if I had a different sense of the film. It’s not that I didn’t like it, I just haven’t really formed a very complete impression. Difficult to do so with this film given some of its choices but I really don’t know what to think of it without seeing it again (which I will at some point) but I did feel it was uneven in some ways, perhaps even, as Rangan rightly suggested in his review, a bit silly at certain points. Which obviously doesn’t mean it’s devoid of seriousness but there is a fine line required here and I’m not sure Kagti treads it unwaveringly.

    Getting back to your piece I too thought of DMD’s politics when I saw this film, as well as the similarities between Aamir and Abhishek’s characters. There’s even a strain of Minority Report here with the psychic-supernatural stuff, the loss of a child, and that tragedy’s adverse effects on a marriage. Spielberg’s film to my mind is far more successfully focused not least because it’s for the most part more concerned with the central noir mystery and eventually ties this in more effectively with the protagonist’s personal tragedy. I think that sort of tie-in was what I missed. Certainly didn’t think the crazy psychic lady was the best way to go about bridging the worlds…

    But I will say, despite my criticisms and in keeping with something I touched on in my piece, to the extent that Kagti’s film addresses the politics of post-DCH Hindi films, it is wholly heartening to see her move along a trajectory that appears to be the opposite of Farhan Akhtar’s. The latter began with a memorable trifle and then went more and more trifling for the most part. Kagti goes from a light romcom to this. One hopes she continues to experiment in this way and certainly this is a worthwhile film that invites more than one viewing.

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    • thanks GF.. don’t remember Minority Report too well though I’ve meant to revisit it for years. I didn’t quite warm up to it when I saw it initially but it’s been a while.

      On the DCH point Zoya Akhtar shared the writing credits on Talaash. Not sure how much her contribution here is. But it’s quite a U-turn from ZNMD!

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      • Oh, I love Minority Report. Not a particularly deep movie given some of the ambitious themes that the script dances around, but don’t think it aimed for that. Over time it’s become one of my favorite action films.

        I’ll stop here before I get the standard chiding about drawing too many Hollywood comparisons!

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  27. Watched Talaash; loved it despite certain reservations. Kareena was luminous in a well written role, Nawazuddin too good; Aamir restrained mostly as his character demanded, yet coming out of his shell at certain points; even some quiet humour from him; yet slightly incomplete characterization perhaps. Rani was competent as always.Loved the Rani-Aamir confrontation scene. Very effective — all smaller characters, even Pinki the dog! Effective use of music, good cinematography that turns Mumbai into a character. I’m ok with the climatic resolution, the paranormal support hook.

    8.5/10 from me.

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  28. LS– given now big an aamir fan u are, how excited u were about the film that seems tepid to me
    “Aamir restrained mostly as his character demanded, yet coming out of his shell at certain points; even some quiet humour from him; yet slightly incomplete characterization perhaps”– that’s an interesting (tightrope) point haha

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  29. “Very effective — all smaller characters, even Pinki the dog! ”
    hahaha
    now when even a dogs performance starts getting praised and connotations start getting placed into it—well..
    the next one may see another writeup by someone of pinki the dog driving a merc with a moustache and 2 female dogs”
    i mean–we hope all films before talaash havent been placed into a ‘pre-talaash” category ….and all others after this watershed event…
    😉

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    • Alex–my point about the dog was to make a note of the small bits of necessary humour in this dark film. But, yes, your own sense of humour kicking in as usual I guess. As for being excited and expectant about Talaash, yes, I am glad that expectations have been met — largely. But obviously some reservations will be there. Just my opinion; some tightening needed maybe. I am ok with the paranormal twist (explanation), even the explanatory asides at the end. There explanations were done skilfully. It’s really funny to watch Aamir in the lift from the assistant Devrath’s real viewpoint. Aamir is seen talking to himself, ha ha . He is of course talking to non existent rosie, but Shekhawat’s sub ordinates see a man babbling to himself. Overall I am satisfied with the film and have rated it 8.5/10. That’s not a tepid reception.

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  30. to add to the point here:

    https://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/night-vision-in-talaash/#comment-198378

    And again I want to be precise here. It’s not just the mood and the characterization and so forth. Deewar picks up where Zanjeer left off in many ways but it tends more toward the ‘mythic’ in the guise of near-realistic drama. And we know the rest of the history. However zanjeer is the only Vijay film with a kind of ‘horror’ moment to it by way of the nightmare. How would Vijay deal with a ghost? How would he fare if he had to pass through his own underworld (land of the dead)? Kaala Pathar has an underworld of sorts but what if Vijay had encountered spirits in the coal mines?!

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    • Superb point here Satyam. And just like Abzee pointed out with respect to the 3 Aamir films, I would say that in Kaala Patthar too Vijay Pal Singh has to go to a ‘foreign land’ (mines) in order to deal with those visions and memories (and notice how for people like Vijay, who hail from a well-to-do family from Bombay, Bihar in any case is culturally foreign). And if we were to talk abt KP in noir terms (and to extend ur ‘spirits in the mines’ point further) probably Vijay is searching for those haunting dreams and memories in those mines but in the same manner in which Rosie remains a mystery for Surire Vijay’s memories too remain an “elusive phenomenon … always just out of reach”. And I say ‘out of reach’ because inspite of Vijay saving people from the disaster he is ultimately unable to save Mangal so his path to redemption is not A fully completed

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      • thanks Saurabh.. this script was a very inspired version of Lord Jim. In fact I like the physicality of the coal mines much more than the jungles of the original. However this is an interesting translation in more ways than one. The book has Lord Jim trying to escape what is for him a kind of colonial [naval] world and trying to lose himself in the jungles of Borneo (or the equivalent fictitious place). Here in a sense he encounters the ‘native’. He goes over to the other side as a white man (we saw this recently in Avatar as well). In Kaala Pathar where the borders are much more nationalist than imperialist Vijay escapes into India’s own ‘heart of darkness’, the Dhanbad region. But this is also a film where there is a debate about private ownership versus nationalized mines. And though this film blatantly panders to the Indira Gandhi regime (not to mention a longer socialist vision) in this sense praising govt facilities and defining corporate owners as rapacious and so forth the ‘journey’ here very much parallels the one in the original. Vijay tries to get away from the nation-state and its politics by aligning himself with this very marginal, much brutalized community. of course the problem is that by the end he re-integrates himself into the very framework he’s run away from. He’s back with the family etc. Trishul also does something similar. In Deewar even though the scripts accounts for Vijay by bumping him off and keeping the bourgeois crowd happy that wants nothing more than earnest, boring Ravi at least Vijay is not complicit in this. He’s allowed the dignity to die rather than become part of an absurdity called ‘Shanti-Raj Constructions’!

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        • Great comment. and at the risk of somewhat ‘objectifying’ you i must say that you are the best portal through which a Bachchan fan can access Bachchan in totality.never heard of Lord Jim but now want to read the book. And I have also noticed that whenever in films Bachchan has not aligned himself with the marginalised communities he has to pay a price which is worse than his own death- in Namak Haram he loses his own brother-like- friend when he refuses to side with the mill workers and even in Pukaar just bcos of a misunderstanding he runs the risk of becoming a traitor and an anti-national (and imagine one of the biggest ‘national’ icon in that Pukar role…ironic). Also something I wrote earlier https://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2009/11/25/from-anand-to-bemisaal-variations-on-a-mukherjee-theme/#comment-192700

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  31. Bachchan1 to 10 Says:

    Another point that most of the audiences, critics and bloggeers are making that Kareena’s warddrobe was too flashy for a low grade Prost, But we are never shown her as a low grade, actually I felt otherwise on that, She was actually a High Profile Escort that Shashi had reserved mostly for the rich and famous, We don’t know for sure that her work/commintements were only based in the “Kamatipura” type of areaplace. Maybe sashi was just her agent and brought her high profile clients thats it, The reason she may be lingering around in teh area after death is to get revenge on shashi. Anyone else care to dicuss this point?

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    • The reason I did not discuss this point much was because I though audience had already zoned in on this. I am surprised this is still an issue.

      ***spoiler begins***

      Rosie HAS to be different from the other pros you encounter in the red-light area.

      a) In the elevator talk with Aamir, Rosie tell him,’ ‘Mein Shashi ki top (A1) ladki hoon’…So, she is not someone going to be bartered to every Tom’s Dick and Harry’s by Shashi..she is reserved for the big money-bags.

      b) Rosie’s lingo/speech/dialogue-delivery is not coarse unlike the other pros Shashi has. Her wardrobe is stylish when compared to her peers. One reason for this is as mentioned in a).

      The 2nd reason is this look is deliberate from Kagti’s directorial point of view. She HAS to make her an out-worldly creature (spirit) inasmuch as she has to fit her in the seedy environs. If you notice, throughout the film except for the scene when she is in the car with the 3 guys, she always appears more brightly lit than she is. There is a kind of ‘halo’ surrounding her overall body/persona. These ‘extraneous’ elements, if you will, are on purpose..

      ***spoiler ends***

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      • This is a double-edged sword though. Because this might logically explain the look and account for the casting choice but thematically if this film is supposed to be about a forgotten life, someone who existed on the margins, it’s difficult to reconcile the successful realization of this idea with the casting of a very traditionally glamorous, very recognizable mainstream actress. Kareena was fine in this role, I just found there to be a real schism between the idea that this character was supposed to embody and the use of a movie star to play her.

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  32. Good points kash
    U seem to know what u r taking about lol
    “her point that most of the audiences, critics and bloggeers are making that Kareena’s warddrobe was too flashy for a low grade Prost”
    Haven’t seen the film but agree
    Not entirely ‘flashy’ but somewhat better than what she normally wears
    Maybe this view will change after watching the film

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  33. Satyam :

    Aseem Chhabra‏@chhabs

    Night Vision in #Talaash, a film laced with a rich political subtext: http://bit.ly/121rkxM

    Like

  34. One more review of talaash : nice though

    ESSAY: Talaash And The Search For Meaning

    In fact, the film with which it actually has a parallel belongs to an entirely different genre.

    In Nanni Moretti’s heart-breaking, award-winning Italian drama The Son’s Room, a reputed psychiatrist, Giovanni (Moretti himself) is faced with the sudden, accidental death of his teenage son Andrea. The doctor, who is entrenched in his profession to the point of boredom, finds himself unable to address his trauma and sinks further into depression with each passing day.

    http://www.filmimpressions.com/home/2012/12/essay-talaash-and-the-search-for-meaning.html

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  35. I am referencing my DMD piece here once more not only because I am narcissistic (that too!) but I put up one on Talaash recently where I invoked DMD more than a few times. In the DMD thoughts I put I have already explored in some detail the central elements that also show up in Talaash. To underline the point a bit more it isn’t just about thematic similarity between the two films. Yes, there are some obvious elements to this degree. But I think there are some very precise tropes that migrate from the older film to this current one.

    https://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/specters-of-dum-maaro-dum/

    I loved Talaash as I’ve already said more than once. However the true measure of DMD remains to be taken, at least in the popular media (I hear an inner voice saying ‘good luck with that buddy’!). Because excellent as Talaash is Sippy’s is simply a finer and more consistent film at very many levels. I’ll offer a very quick example about what I mean..

    Talaash at a visual level alternates between two basic modes. A more realist sort of framing for the daylight scenes or even some of the darker ones involving the apartment building and so on and then a much more magical ‘night-time’ quasi-surreal palette reserved principally for Aamir’s encounters with kareena et al. This division is not quite as neat as this but it’s not a bad way of looking at the film.

    With DMD on the other hand the entire film respects the logic of the parameters Sippy sets up. The aesthetic choices here are not as accessible for a wider audience as Kagti’s. Take the opening credits of Talaash. Very superbly done but nothing else in the film is quite like this. On the other hand there are no serious deviations from the visual schema Sippy sets up (won’t go through things I’ve already said in the piece).

    To quote Zizek then Kagti ‘cheats’ a little (I don’t mean this as a criticism at all in any obvious sense) while Sippy doesn’t. And now allow me to cheat with one more example!

    Talaash is a more emotionally resonant film in an obvious (easy?) sense. Some of these moments were very well-handled even if I am not as persuaded of the need for this entire parallel track (inasmuch as these remove one from the central track of the work). But pragmatically these very moving moments not only make the film more accessible but also iron over potential problems an audience might have. In commercial cinema it is much easier to get away with ‘flaws’ if the story makes that connection with the audience in a direct emotional way. Once again DMD doesn’t do this. BM was the same way. The ‘mood’ that Sippy establishes here is maintained throughout. It is fairly easy for a director to ‘cheat’ on the overall framework of the film to incorporate moments that he (or she) knows will resonate with the audience. For instance Ratnam could have had a lot more ‘dialog-baazi’ in Guru and added some crores to the gross! Sippy could have had a more satisfying ending with Kamath beating up the bad guys and staying alive at the end. So on and so forth. Notice how Aamir’s is a relatively passive character in the film. Things happen to him. He does not control the plot at any point. This is the sort of thing that would ordinarily disappoint audiences but here the film is always ‘moving’ at such points and the usual objections vanish.

    I should end this here but this exercise wasn’t meant to criticize Talaash at all nor was I trying to play a game of oneupmanship. However these distinctions are worth reflecting on.

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    • put up all of this on twitter.. now I’m going to upset some Aamir fans! Ha!

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      • LOL 🙂

        First you have to counter one fellow here, AA 😛

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        • Oh he’ll be happy with a Cocktail bone..

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          • had no intention of ever catching dmd. but i think i might now since you wouldn’t shut up about it 🙂

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          • If you are in States with Netflix account, it is online.

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          • Satyam –I hav an idea –lets be ‘famous’ …
            Anyhow I wanna piggy-back your name pleez
            Then we both will create further havoc on the www 🙂
            Let’s put up some choicest ‘arguments’ on haha ( that the two of us know are a ‘put on’ !!— but shhhhh)

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          • Ha, you absolutely should. This is an outstanding work but also that rare work which is completely ‘integrated’ in terms of the director’s designs. For example I have a great weakness for D6 but it’s in many ways a ‘glorious failure’. Not that my dividing line is usually this (flawed film v perfect one) but DMD keeps everything together in remarkable fashion.

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          • And as always I will remain anonymous, letting Satyam enjoy the limelight & ‘bask in the glory’
            Anyhow I always felt u should make better use of the gems u keep dropping here n there (though not on abhishrek & some box office commentary lol)

            “Oh he’ll be happy with a Cocktail bone.. ” ha
            Will somehow manage with anya & Amy as of now 🙂

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          • “If you are in States with Netflix account, it is online.”
            There’s also a home/room delivery service that’s available from time to time –I do for selective cases

            Ps: DMD DVDs aren’t indemnified though
            Watch @ your own risks — not a bad film, infact good–but the contrast between the commentary here & the reality is striking 🙂

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          • Antya aap Satyam ko kabhi chup nahi Kara sakti jai. Do not ask me for the details but Satyam and the word ‘speaker’ have certain Arabic etymological connections (if I am not wrong) 🙂

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          • The only connection that Satyam has is with the notion of truth. Your comment is nonetheless interesting. For reasons I cannot get into here!

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          • yes i have seen it in my netflix ‘suggestions’ multiple times but kept ignoring it. ignore no more.
            thanks for clarifying the difference from d6 satyam, i didn’t like it so wouldn’t watch this if it is similar.

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          • they’re completely different films anyway.

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          • Lol. U don’t have to get into it at all. But i hope u atleast know what i am talking abt. And u should atleast mail me the meaning of it just to know whether I was right regarding the meaning 🙂 . On a more serious note the comment wasn’t meant to trouble u or piss u off, just said that in good fun Sir since I thought the comment fit the bill there. Anyway no more from my side on the topic.

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      • meethi churi?haha.
        Now I would like to watch DMD with this background.

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    • Found DMD far more effectively resonant than Talaash but also more genuinely cathartic than any Hindi film in recent memory….certainly since RDB. I agree that there’s an obviousness to Talaash’s emotions…there were genuinely emotionally moving moments as when Aamir replays alternative versions of the moment where his son died, but on the whole it wasn’t really a very emotionally gripping film which come to think of it might account for why I haven’t quite fallen for it as many have.

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  36. Aseem Chhabra‏@chhabs

    I haven’t gone #Talaash crazy, but RTing 3 thoughtful essays on the film: http://bit.ly/UpIhh9 http://bit.ly/121rkxM http://bit.ly/TFHISA

    Like

  37. Hmm Dum Maro Dum and Talaash… would say the 2 movies are complementary rather than similar.
    The plotting twists were far more engaging with DMD , but the atmoshpere was richer with Talaash
    I did enjoy Dum Maro Dum more than Talaash.

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    • My initial tweet on this:

      Satyam ‏@Satyamk

      Talaash (which I loved) is very much a complementary effort to last year’s DMD. More on this at another point.

      I’ve always meant this whenever I’ve compared the films and I’d also be willing to bit a fair bit that DMD is an influence on this film. And again I don’t think they’re similar in terms of how they’ve been shot or the mood created or even how the emotional graph of the characters is plotted out. I just find them similar or complementary in terms of being different responses to a similar set of themes and concerns and furthermore arrive at somewhat similar tropes to fashion their narratives. But this is not meant to elide in any sense the very important distinctions that do exist between the two works.

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  38. Liked it as much the second time as well. Could probably watch it again. Saw the very same show at the very same theater and there was a very fair crowd. Despite some of the drops I’d be surprised if it didn’t remain stable at that lower level. Still think there’s a very fair possibility of 100 crores here.

    Now could it have done 10-15% more? Absolutely. But this film couldn’t have done a lot more in any scenario! This is where the genre factor becomes important. Now even in the best case scenario is it unlikely to trend like Aamir’s previous films (the initial was at least doubled)? Absolutely obviously this isn’t going to do 130-140 . here I’d refer people to my response to Bored yesterday because opportunists have to be hit on the head at every turn before sane debates can begin (!).

    Beyond this however, and again looking at the film that is, Aamir essentially got a greater audience for the film than would have been possible otherwise. Forget lesser stars no other major star would have got this film anywhere within striking range of 100 crores. And if the trending hasn’t been comparable to Aamir’s previous stuff this establishes point even more. It just isn’t a film for everyone. I’ve always made these arguments for various kinds of films. So for instance DMD did around 35 crores or so. It could have probably 55-60 with a better initial (Abhishek in a better phase), probably even doubled that number with a star truly at a box office peak. But even with Aamir it wouldn’t have done as much as Talaash. Why? because it doesn’t offer the obvious emotional hooks that Talaash does. It certainly doesn’t have as satisfying an ending with respect to the ‘hero’. and so on. Much as DG was an art-house effort. The fact that it made even 13 crores or whatever is quite extraordinary. Once again Aamir got people in who would never have touched this sort of thing otherwise.

    And again the distinction here is that other major stars wouldn’t have got Talaash to that sort of initial. We saw this with Swades for example. A very drab initial when this was the Lagaan director’s first film following that effort, in 2004 SRK was also getting big initials, but not for this one. Because it’s not about being a major star. A star needs credibility for this sort of thing. SRK would have gotten a much lower initial for Talaash, for Salman it would have been even lower. Conversely if you went a bit small with Talaash you could pull off a Kahaani here.

    This is why I was always more comfortable with a 100 crore prediction than anything here (as it turns out GF and Rajen were the most accurate in terms of this film’s prospects.. i.e. before release). It’s about the potential audience pool for any genre. A star can cover some of the gap but not the whole thing. Amitabh Bachchan at his peak couldn’t get half the people into the theaters for a Mukherjee film (even when those films worked) as he could for a more mainstream format let alone an out and out masala deal. Unfortunately many fans forget this which is why they then come up with wild numbers and some of the partisans pretend that a big enough star should be able to do anything!

    I don’t think for all these reasons that the Talaash box office can be considered unsatisfactory unless one were looking for that extra 10-15% it could conceivably have done. Of course this whole game is ‘rigged’ to begin with. Because it’s not just about Talaash’s performance. Even if one thinks the collections are underwhelming (though one must offer rationales on how it could have done a lot better.. rationales that don’t involve calling JTHJ an art film!) so what? A guy has been getting nothing but enormous success in every conceivable genre with trending rates that most of his peers don’t get even on their best days. The idea that one film in a difficult genre that didn’t become an outright blockbuster is somehow a big disappointment is totally absurd. And even the partisans ought to be grasping at some other stars when their own favorites have either spent years in the wilderness and/or had tons of failures or underperformers for years! There is no equalizer here except in the minds of the insane or the insanely partisan!

    But this is a rather short term strategy in any case. Given he has D3 and Hirani lined up! But D3 offers a puzzle for some of these folks. Now who gets the credit here? LOL! Choose you medicine guys. Either Aamir gets a big share of the credit or you have to give it more of it to Abhishek. Can’t have it both ways. And if you make it completely about the sequel and so on well then hrithik in D2 becomes a problem too! All these other factors were true in D2 and they will be true in D3. Abhishek is central to this franchise. The villain has been very important to the genre. Aamir’s box office needs no introduction (at least for those on this side of sanity). and yes there’s a sequel. Yes Katrina’s very popular. So on and so forth. All of these things are true together. Nonetheless this will offer a challenge to the partisans. which is why such folks should start praying for a genuine failure. That way you guys can get everyone together! ha! lots of luck with that!

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    • Actually u are right. And leave aside Bollywood even in Hollywood one would NEVER find a ‘proper’ dark thriller/noir coming close to being a blockbuster. Shutter Island, with Leo, was the upper limit

      The other heartening thing is that finely we had a proper noir film in Bwood after decades. Infact in Hwood this genre seems to have died (even neo-noir isn’t hot anymore)

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      • I agree largely with your summation. Only where I would differ is whether film has been accepted. I would have felt much better if got to a 90-100 crore total with a smaller opening. Aswe have always maintaiend, the final total is important but it is equally important how it got there. it is certainly true that no one but Aamir could have gotten it to a total of 90-100 crores but I am somewhat disappointed and dissatisfied with how it SEEMS to be trending. Based on what I have seen/heard would have expected it to hold better. The final verdict is not out but am prticularly disappointed with second Fr number.

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        • yes agreed completely.. Aamir’s films general double their gross.. if it continues its current trajectory it will trend worse than MP. Looks like there was a pickup over Sat and Sun but it will have be very stable during the week. And yes even in the very best scenario we’re looking at a 70:30 ratio which is very far from Aamir’s usual trending patterns. I also agree that once you get that many people in (as he did for a big initial) you clearly don’t have a majority not truly liking it. I nonetheless have some hesitation here because even though you and I agree on trending (and we agree with how it’s done in every professional industry) the problem is that with every other film a 70:30 or 65:35 ratio has been enough to declare films hits without any questions asked as long as these touched 100 crores. We saw this most recently with BB. And of course ETT at a much higher level. So going from 68 to 90 (as Talaash seems most likely to do) is hardly an optimal result but again when every other film is being judged so unfairly, when a film like Ra One that completely collapsed and was made at an astronomical cost is being called a hit in some quarters, then one must wonder what the standards ought to be for Talaash. otherwise I of course completely agree with everything you’re saying. I too felt it would be stronger over the second weekend.

          Now for the benefit of others here who might wonder why I am laying out the facts this way with you and why I was saying something different to Bored.. well it gets to the larger point. Honest conversations can only be had between honest brokers! We all have our likes and dislikes but for example I called JTHJ’s trending poor, not RNBDJ’s. I still have the same view on SRK, still dislike both films. But there are facts that are beyond these things. I’m glad Abhishek got BB and so on but this is still not optimal trending. Said this for the Salman films, saying it here. So it’s not about Abhishek or SRK or whoever.

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    • Satyam- what do you feel about the arguement being expounded by some that this film not reaching 100 crores is because Kagti’s direction was subpar?

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      • I dont think it is the direction. It is the genre and unwillingness to compromise. It would have been easy to buff up the numbers by making it more of a pure suspense drama and remove some of the emotional angst but would not have stayed to its true vision.
        That is why it is unfair to compare it to Kahaani. They have totally different ambitions.

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      • those arguments are made my people who wouldn’t be able to separate Kagti’s directorial abilities from Rohit Shetty’s even with a gun to their heads..

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  39. i disagree here partly
    Aamir has MORE than delivered here by his choice, performance and portrayal
    Ive mentioned elsewhere that he wasnt alliwed to ‘meddle’ & have spoken in no uncertain terms that he SHOULD have meddled

    This is a dark unrelenting movie but there are many junctures where a minor tweak could have easily made it more box office friendly
    I still maintain—people DID show up for aamir and the opening WAS V GOOD for this genre
    the fact it is going down means they are not that happy

    Kagti would have been sensible letting the more adept aamir take over key stages–get a proper full feldged hit
    SHe had her whole career to express her vision etc
    plus the bigger this hit was, it would have been easier to experiment more for her in her next venture–
    alas, folks feel the need to ‘assert’ for the sake of it, even if it means spoiling their own interests

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    • “Aamir has MORE than delivered here by his choice, performance and portrayal” – aha! look who is talking here 🙂 the man who wrote 48,594 comments asking why this movie should be called a hit if it doesn’t do 150 cr 🙂

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  40. raju unique—i still say that about 150 crores !!!
    thats the difference
    those who cant separate their adualtion for a film/star or hate for another from actual facts /fgures/ box office realities–do find it difficlt to digest
    I LOVED aamir the actor in talaash
    infact found his performance resonating and fulfilling but that doesnt change box offfice’
    i wont start changing my commentary on that suddenly
    what did u say
    barfi x screens 100 crores
    talaash 2x screens how much? –still remains… 🙂

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  41. though one does not realize it when one’s watching the movie (I didn’t through two screenings) the title credits song reveals the entire essential plot of the film, certainly the twist. It’s all there in the lyrics.

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