An Jo on Tamasha

That Imtiaz Ali has a fine flair for visual flourishes is indeed further cemented with ‘Tamasha’. In ‘Highway’, the prosaic nature of a procedural is captured using dusty cam-visuals while the escapades – if one may call it so—of Bhatt’s character are captured with stunning visuals. In TAMASHA, he again employs the technique: This time, Ranbir’s Ved’s innate talent and ear for story-telling are captured in grainy but colorful visuals of the parallels of Ram-leelas [note especially the shot where you have Raavan with ten-heads interspersed along-side text-books of Math and Geography]. But when Ved actually performs on stage, it is all natural and boisterous. So are the ‘visuals’ of Corsica—extending onto Delhi and Calcutta— that, in a Karan Johar’s or Ayan’s or umpteen Telugu and Tamil pot-boilers would pass off just as bare-minimum visual two-way trips to exotic places without the bureaucratic hassles of a visa. Here, the splendor of visuals does serve some purpose. There is a line that Ranbir utters which can be paraphrased thus: One hasn’t come so far to an unfamiliar/new town to continue living the same old ‘identity’ from a known land. ‘I have come here to traverse that distance between the worldly-life and one’s heart.’

When a human sheds the boxed-definitions of ‘living’ life, even dirt appears less murky. So what happens or what one feels in a picturesque Corsica is anyone’s guess. Of course, Imtiaz uses our films’ traditional elements of song-and-dance in ‘Matargashti’, filling-up the screen with foreigners enjoying in the background; but here, it appears less offensive and more in-line with what the nameless- characters of Ranbir and Deepika are thinking. [It is fantastic thinking/writing that the plot-incident that brings the characters together is that Tara loses her bag containing her ‘identity’ documents [passport, driver’s license, etc., etc.,] and THAT is what propels the discussion between Ranbir and Deepika and their subsequent flow into a bliss of identity-free moments in a foreign-land. They can now be anything: He can be Teja or Don; she can be Mona Darling and no sky would come shattering down. Thus they consume ‘moments’ of identity-unburdened fun before Deepika’s character regains her passport and metaphorically her ‘identity’ and her way back to the known world.

More than 3 years pass—[a very weak spot in the film where the assumption is that 4 years of life’s realities don’t dampen a no-strings-attached ‘relationship’ forged on unknown-identities in a foreign-land: After all, if a country can get intolerant between interviews spaced within two weeks then the assumption of a rich and privileged Deepika’s character longing for those fleeting moments, breaking-up with her boy-friend and staying single – emotionally—for a period of 4 years does sound a bit stretched] – but Deepika’s character isn’t able to forget that ‘Don’ character and his zest- for-life from Corsica and realizes she has fallen in love with him. They then meet [she ‘tricks’ the meeting] and start dating in the ‘real’ world. [Again, these are fantastic shots where every date is captured ‘episodically’ to emphasize ‘bliss’ in real-world: call-meet-watch a movie; call-meet-enjoy some food at a Japanese joint-go back to the girl’s house {they were about to have sex when Pahlaj Nihalani brandished his scissors}; call-meet-propose to the girl in front of friends with that ring of matrimonial-eternity. Uh-oh! It is here that Deepika’s character of Tara finally treads away from Ranbir’s Ved Sahani’’s real-world turgid life as a Product Manager in a tech-company where everything is by order and by time [Ved’s ‘routine’ in life on a daily-basis is captured by him wearing a half-sweater, a tie, a blue-tooth ear-piece, eating cereals for break-fast, being harassed by a eunuch at a traffic light, and his wishing a good-morning to his colleagues and his boss [a HILARIOUS Vivek Mushran trying to pass-off as a ‘global’ business-man .] In a finely-detailed scene, when Tara is on the verge of passionately kissing Ved, he is ‘careful’ and ‘decent’ enough to take out his phone and remove his wrist-watch so that it doesn’t ‘disturb’ Tara!].

After Tara’s rejection –the back-ground music and shoot during the break-up is touching— citing that this isn’t the person she met in Corsica, Ved is heart-broken and inadvertently, walks on cinders where he tries to assess what he really-is; what he wants to – whether he wants to — ‘become’ for Tara as she envisioned his ‘true-self’ to be in Corsica; and what he is to the world around him. And there, right there, lies the beauty of the script and the vision. Ved tries to become the ‘zesty’ guy that he was in Corsica for the real-world; for his boss, for his friends and fails miserably – and it is superbly conveyed to the audience through his mirror-talk. It is a lesson-within-a-lesson plot-point where the take-away is that you cannot be true-to-yourself for consumption by others; you have to be true-to-yourself ONLY for your-self. That’s when things ring true to your soul. In scene-after-scene, there is confusion in Ved’s mind about Tara and more importantly, about himself. Where does his soul actually breathe? As the corporate sheep or the unhinged, unshaven guy from Corsica or the kid stealing rupees to listen to a raconteur in the foot-hills of Shimla who starts with passion but loses to business and thus confounds Ramayana with Helen-of-Troy or/and Heer-Ranja or/and Romeo-Juliet. [In a finely-written scene, Ved approaches all-tears to Piyush Mishra and asks him to narrate his {Ved’s} story. How blissfully dis-honest can a person get with one-self when he/she would be so-lost as to depend on another person to ‘complete’ one’s story!]

This is a coming-of-age film –funny how all our films have 30+ actors discovering themselves; except marriage, everything in our country seems to occur too late—delicately managing to chip away at the superficial addressing of such themes tailored to multiplex-audiences. It is, for sure, at least an honest-step forward. Even though both the characters – Deepika’s especially—belong to the educated and the privileged class, Imtiaz doesn’t let them get in the way of heart-felt emotions mostly. [The brilliantly shot and scored AGAR TUM SAATH HO is a testimony to that.]

The climactic shot, then, is especially tricky and swirls the audience into dual-minds. You have the lead characters dancing free-wheeling atop hill-tops with top-of-the-shelf noise-canceling head-phones. What about those unlucky ones? Like the rick-shaw driver that Imtiaz conveniently but finely uses as a plot-device to remind Ranbir’s Ved that ‘dreams’ and ‘soul’ die across classes almost equally. Some die brutally and early due to lack of privilege/wealth/class; some die late due to the presence of same – but die they do.

Coming to the ‘grammar’ of the film, the film does suffer a bit of slow-pacing. But in the end, it just depends on what one ‘sees’ and experiences in the film. It is quite a personal viewing-experience for each and every audience-member. The songs are mesmeric and Kamil once again supports Rahman and Imtiaz brilliantly and vice-versa. ‘HEER TOH BADI SAD HAI’ is a fantastic reversal on the Punjabi folk. Rajesh Autowala’s [a superb Ishtiyqk Khan] ode to ‘Emotional Atyachar’ from DEV D is a treat. And the way it is inter-cut music-less with Ved’s spontaneous poetry is fantastic.

After a long, long, time, Ranbir comes out of His-Ranbirness and performs. He finely forks his corporate-life and the life that is art-driven. Deepika is good but her act here could not be considered ‘progressive’ talent. Frankly, this film is owned by the lead characters, Piyush Mishra, Corsica, and Ishtiqak Khan – impact-wise as well as role-length-wise. All others are incidental.

27 Responses to “An Jo on Tamasha”

  1. Jayshah:

    Wow what a stunning review. You have captured moments and scenes amazingly well.


  2. The most lucid review of the film yet. Nit a single word ineffective or wasted. Waht;s more, I agree totally with your reading of the film.


  3. Fabulous review.
    Rumination is the right way to put it.
    After having ruminated on the film over last few days, I feel fonder of the film and little details come back.
    Am not sure Satyam or Q have seen or written anything. Would love tonhear their views as well.
    This is not an easy sell for multiplex audiences. The fact that it has been accepted even at this level is heartening.


  4. Only skimmed to avoid spoilers ..

    But what’s special about Ann’s note here is how she has written this in such a deep heartfelt (& bodily felt) manner & with some empathy.., & insight.
    Welldone girl..

    Btw the bits I’ve heard remind me of a film seminar on french films I went to recently –with a friend who’s ‘dabbling’ with film making (best way 2 describe thyme person)
    I was quite distracted by other things but somehow remember catching bits of the works of Alain Resnain –a french maker and bits of a film of his –wild grass

    Imo Imtiaz Alis filmographys business end is a trilogy consisting of rockstar, highway culminating in tamasha. (His films before that were just ground work to pave the way for this trilogy)
    He’s now at the crosswords and the inevitable tepid box office reactions to Tamasha will either force him to retreat back towards JWM (& moreover LAK days!)
    BUT if he can withstand the pressures and vagaries of box office relative ‘failure’ and continues on this path,
    I see an auteurs formative stage reminding me of Resnais …

    Ps: I’ve said much but the fact is that I haven’t seen tamasha yet..
    But sometimes the thoughts and impressions of a film are better than the film can ever be. I don’t wanna cringe at the ‘mistakes’ -something I did with some other ‘great works’ I saw..
    I’m enjoying the music of tamasha when I get a chance
    But unless I’m forced , I may never actually see tamasha…


  5. Contd from my comment above

    I’ve been HOLDING BACK from this film And even the music..
    But just like they say, flowing water finds it’s way … (Atleast in the world of music)

    With trepidation i listened to the album
    FITTINGLY the most COMPLEX compositions is helmed by AR dileep kumar aka ar rahman himself ..
    To appreciate this sort of composition, and the greatness of his music, one needs an EMANCIPATED musical sense –I won’t employ pseudo humility here or bother with niceties
    This is obviously NOT for satyamullahs who like gerua or manwa emosan etc

    Rahman teams up with Imtiaz, lucky Ali and Irshad Kamil to create magic in tu koi aur hai and safarnama. They evoke and signify the best of SUFISM in their lives & music and it’s shows…

    It’s mesmerising, meditative, colossal
    midway Alma Fevorics voice intersperses with Rahmans own operatic take complete with violins and even gospel chants.
    These two are really a continuum and there’s a musical interlude in Tu koi aur hai that LEADS to a MUSICAL SEQUE in safarnama
    And when one hears lucky croon safarnama there’s a semblance of a musical ORGASM –something that the censor board didn’t allow ranbir and deepika to achieve onscreen (& katrina won’t, in real life anymore -maybe)

    Something’s been stopping me from watching this film …somethin ‘uncomfortable’ bout it..
    Let’s say, it’s not showing near me….


  6. TAMASHA q & a with Ali


  7. Never knew TAMASHA was earlier named WINDOW SEAT..


  8. This review was a delight to read. Agree with JS that you have captured key moments of the film and put it into words so articulately. The movie starts VERY slow for me…but the rest of the film kind of makes up for it. You’ve also pointed out some flaws accurately. It is not an ‘easy’ watch but like you said if one is fully invested in the film…there are moments in the film where one can fully grasp the essence of those scenes. So overall for me while it is a pretty ‘deep’ movie…it remained uneven….and the ending was a typical ‘desi’ or commercial cop out, IMO.

    Ranbir and Deepika were great to watch. Ranbir is world class and this performance just adds to his already wide range of acting prowess. This guy can do anything with such ease and he is miles ahead of his peers. Deepika was effective but her lack of correctly pronouncing hindi/urdu words was a hindrance. Thanks again for a great read.


  9. Ranbir Kapoor, who had a fairly disastrous time at the box office recently, has been seriously advised by those close to him to steer clear of his comfort zone. He is unlikely to do more films with Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma with whom he has a done a majority of his movies.

    But Ranbir’s latest release Tamasha has done well enough for its director Imtiaz Ali to cast him yet again. This time, his heroine will be Alia Bhatt.

    “Ranbir with Katrina and Deepika has become a predictable pair. He never cared who his heroine was. In Rockstar, Imtiaz cast a new face Nargis Fakhri with Ranbir. Imtiaz’s next will feature Ranbir with Alia for the first time,” says a source.

    Incidentally, Ranbir’s best friend Ayan Mukerjee has cast Alia and him in his super-hero film. The future of that project is uncertain at the moment.

    —Subhash K Jha


  10. omrocky786 Says:

    Saw Tamasha….. The first 10 minutes were the worst ….boring, loud, naatak….the next half hour was like AnJo said phoren country, girls, blah blah blah…..
    But then the once back in India the movie took a U-turn and became very interesting and meaningful.
    Ranbit acted really well, but Deepika I was not much impressed with.
    Also AnJo- Imtiaz did show the auto driver becoming part of Ranbir’s troupe .

    However IMO some amount of discipline has to be instilled by the parents , also the young minds do need guidance from the parents.

    The other I thing I find very convenient and Problematic in all of these movies is that the Guy/ Girl who comes of age has no responsibilities or liabilities ….bas utha aur badal gaye !!

    P.S.- The DVD has full movie’s Director’s commentary as special features…would be nice to listen to but pencho ek baar dekhna hee himmat ka kaam tha !! LOL


  11. One of the greatest films ever is the last 10!years..


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