Thursday, December 03, 2015

Movie Recommendation: Tamasha

Vidit Bhargava

One of the best parts about Tamasha is that there's a story oozing out from everywhere. From AR Rahman's Music, to Ravi Verman's flawless cinematography, every elements stays true to Tamasha's spirit of Storytelling.

We're introduced early on, in Tamasha, to one of the chief characters in the movie, played by Piyush Mishra. The actor is playing an old story teller, who cleverly (and deliberately) messes up with the story's characters, starting with new ones every time there's a break. His reasons? Well, at the end of the day you are listening to the same story, and should enjoy that, rather than fretting over petty details like characters and character names. And to be honest, I'd love to meet such a story teller, for he gives more than what's worth of the many disjoint stories he tells, it's no wonder that Ranbir Kapoor's character who grows up listening to the storytellers tales, experiences all sorts of stories around him. Some playing in his head, some involving more human characters.

This pretty much sets the tone for Tamasha's unconventional narrative. The narrative being the best thing that Tamasha offers. Oscillating between the past and present, real and imaginary characters, and adding flashes of other parallel and similar stories to the Frey. Tamasha's narrative is similar to that of a complex painting which has lots of elements and all of which are trying to convey something meaningful. In a phenomenal execution of a “sad” song, Imtiaz Ali offers us three punjabi folk singers (most probably placed inside Padukone's character's head ) telling us how very sad she is. And as is the case with mind dwellers, the singers are almost certainly enjoying themselves. In fact, this is how most of the movie plays. We are treated to multiple flashbacks of Ranbir Kapoor's character's childhood and subsequent struggle with Mathematics when he begins to realize that he's slowly being cast into a culture that he's been pushed into and is not necessarily something that he enjoys. While, all those things are kept at bay, when the same character has a great time in Corsica.

Tamasha also has a lot of literary references to offer too. We see Ranbir Kapoor reading the Joseph Heller's Catch-22, a book apt for the character he's playing here. In fact he's even caught in one himself, when he's repeatedly motivated by his manager, even after his deliberate pranks in the middle of important presentations. The sequence in itself is a stretch, and probably should have been edited out, but the catch-22 inspiration was unmistakable. There's also a nod to Honne and Tatemae from the Japanese culture, which forms most of the premise of the second half. All of these are respectful odes to some amazing literature, all in a non-plagiaristic manner. Which is so refreshing to see.

Like I said earlier, every element in Tamasha is trying to put forward a story, and perhaps the most powerful way in which this is done, is the music. AR Rahman's music goes beyond the obvious song and dance sequences here. It goes on to tell a story. It's used as an element to express the narrative. It's phenomenal. And one of the best examples is the song “Wat Wat” that plays in the later part of the movie, which is actually two stories intertwined in one. This music is one of those rare AR Rahman compositions that touch a completely different level of awesomeness once experienced with the movie.

There's not a single actor, supporting or leading, who under performs here. It's almost as though Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor were in a competition of sorts to outperform each other's performances, and Piyush Mishra as the old storyteller leaves a mark in a role that only lasts for minutes on the screen. The characters these actors get in turn, are carefully thought out and full with a lot of depth, and The portrayals, spot on.

And yet, Tamasha isn't perfect. It's screenplay is overstretched in the second half. There's a lot of time lost in over explaining. Where things were being conveyed so poignantly in a song, long and cliché conversations take the same point and try to drill it into your head. Which is where your patience might be tested at times. When the camera, music, acting and narrative stop telling you the story, some dialogues just ruin the experience. It doesn't help then that the narrative feels a bit self indulgent too. Yet, these pitfalls (if one would call them so) are mostly restricted to the last hour of the movie. And for most of the part, Tamasha is pretty well done.

Tamasha is one the best movies I've seen this year. It's pretty far from perfect and not everyone will enjoy it as much as I did. But Tamasha's spot on portrayal of characters, Amazing Narrative and A soundtrack that works on so many levels, makes Tamasha an enjoyable experience, worth multiple viewings.

Rating : *** ½