Saturday, December 01, 2012


Mumbai Confidential

You can see why Aamir Khan was attracted to a script that is, on the surface, a suspense thriller; because Reema Kagti’s Talaash has him play a guilt-ridden, grieving man, who mentally tortures himself relentlessly over the accident that killed his young son.  While his wife Roshni (Rani Mukerji) can wear her sorrow on her face, Surjan Shekhawat (Khan) is a cop and has to bury his scorching emotions under a mask of brisk efficient police duty.  The film has murder and suspense, but like Robert Redford’s 1980 film Ordinary People, Talaash is more about a marriage straining under unspoken words and solace not shared.  In a brief, but telling scene, Surjan walks into his home, his wife is sitting in the living room, they look at each other wordlessly, but imagine the embrace that could have broken than wall of silence.

The credit sequence reveals a grimy, kitschy Mumbai and immediately a car zooming down an empty street, crashing over a wall and into the sea.  The man who is killed is a film star, Armaan Kapoor.  Shekhawat and his men find  many suspicious aspects to the accident, the most puzzling being the star’s link to a sleazy, pick-up joint kind of hotel, its pimp, his errand boy Taimur (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and his “A-1” girl Rosie (Kareena Kapoor).

While Roshni tries to find peace and closure by depending on a psychic (Shernaz Patel), who can connect with her dead son,  Surjan forms a strange, frail bond with Rosie. She not just gives him tips for the case, she also becomes his confidante and counsellor— there’s a tender scene in which she strokes his face and helps the sleep-deprived cop fall into deep slumber.

The narrative moves at three levels—the investigation of Armaan’s death, the goings on in the red light area and the coping with bereavement.  The pace of the film flounders then, the brooding atmosphere tries too hard for a noir effect —those who expected a crackling murder mystery might find the psychobabble boring; those who decided after a bit that they are interested in Shekhawat’s dilemma, night find Taimur’s interference taking up too much footage.  And almost everybody who is a regular film watcher can see the ending coming a mile away, and it is a major downer. In trying to be something for everybody, Talaash might just have created a problem for itself--it works in bits and pieces, but does not form a fully satisfying whole, and the inspiration from M. Night Shyamalan’s 1999 hit Sixth Sense is too glaring to overlook.

The performances are a big plus then—Aamir Khan’s consistent slow burn look,  Kareena Kapoor’s saucy yet sensitive demeanour, Rani Mukerji’s eyes and voice being put to full use to portray a woman at the end of her tether; even the supporting parts are well played. Sharmishtha Roy’s production design, KU Mohanan’s camera and Ram Sampath’s music score enhance the look and mood of the film. The support of a good production house,  generous budget and high powered marketing can present a polished product – and Talaash is definitely worth a watch, but be prepared for a crashing of the sky-high expectations.


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