by Aritra Dey
TLR Rating: 8 Reels.
Imagination is equally revered and feared by the general public. When a neighbor is imaginative, praise befalls on him. But a family member dares to venture his thoughts out into the unknown, woe betides him. The same talent becomes the sin of time-wastage, when one starts to create a world of his/her own. Skies are pink and carrots are purple. Birds talk in meaningful conversation and the clouds breakdown into a shower of chocolate. Does that make sense? Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn’t. You can’t tame imagination. It can’t be instructed to follow a certain path. Why, you ask. Because it is free, unlike our trained minds, which in its robotic self can only do what is programmed.
Imitiaz Ali’s ‘Tamasha’ began with this particular ‘robotic man’ analogy. Quelling imagination and talent in rebellious children isn’t a modern subject. Look at the biographies of famous entrepreneurs and even our ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and you will understand the theme well enough.
‘Tamasha’ dealt with this topic on a deeper basis. What happens when a child who simply lived in his world of stories is forced to study engineering and lead a ‘normal’ life? The flamboyant ‘Don’ becomes a corporate boot-licking Ved. He is a robot, programmed to execute his duties to the clock, smile and flatter his boss whenever he walked past, and remain stoic to insults. When ‘Mona Darling’ Tara meets her Corsica Crush in the smoggy Delhi, she finds a stranger. Her vibrant self tries to adjust, but despite a loving boyfriend in Ved, she never meets the man who she had fallen in love with. And the peaceful Ved simply bursts.
While the other films in this genre are more inspiring, showing the protagonists to fight all odds to reach their goal, ‘Tamasha’ is much more pragmatic in approach. Ved loses out the best part of his life in being ‘normal’. Like so many others, he is successful in pushing his ‘kahaani’ life under the ground. It takes a solitary effort from Tara to reignite the dormant volcano and push it above the ground. Alright, it might be that Bollywood sweet ending which called for Tara’s help. But seriously, how many of us are like Ved? Dormant, depressed and in a constant state of delirium. Our dreams crushed under the rat’s race which we are all running. Ved’s last tale to his parents seemed like our voices-those who dared to dream differently, once in their lifetime.
Imitiaz’s narrative is one of the finer points of this movie. He starts with a pantomime, the ‘tamasha’ whose essence lingers on throughout the movie. The introduction to the protagonists of the story, Tara and Ved are done in the beautiful French town of Corsica, and in the strangest of fashions. A half-love story later, he faces a daunting task of jumping 5 years into the future. Instead of going with the usual routine of a sudden leap, he progresses slowly, putting us in Tara’s shoes as she moves from Calcutta to Delhi. And he interspersed the story with flashbacks of a young Ved jumping over the hills to spend some time with the old story-teller. A kid in his own world of stories becomes a monotonic corporate stooge, and that is the greatest tragedy of them all.
Ranbir Kapoor’s performance in another Imtiaz Ali’s movie, ‘Rockstar’ garnered rave reviews. ‘Barfi!’ too drew in positive responses from the critics. But his role as the troubled Ved in ‘Tamasha’ went criminally unnoticed. I don’t think any other actor working in Bollywood could have emulated the personalities of the character so perfectly. The two shades of the protagonist, the flamboyant ‘Don’ and the stoic sales officer are so different, and yet Ranbir lived in their shoes perfectly. Deepika Padukone is steadily proving herself as the best expressionist in the bad industry, and ‘Tamasha’s Tara is a baby-step in that direction. She was spunky, wild, lovable and extremely romantic. Everything you want in your female lead.
A.R. Rehman’s music is golden. Outdated is the critics’ favorite adjective to describe his work nowadays. ‘Evergreen’ is the one I’d prefer. Fun-filled ‘Matargasthi’ set the tone for the movie and ‘Agar Tum Saath Ho’ set the romantic tune. ‘Chali Kahaani’ told the theme in a nutshell. Bollywood is incomplete without its soundtracks. Utilizing instead of misusing it is a talent. And Imtiaz Ali has loads of it.
The Final Take
‘Tamasha’ is an extremely personal movie for the audience. If there is anyone who can relate to the concept, there is hardly a movie you’ll love more. I had the blessing to watch it with a couple of friends on my birthday who snored throughout the entirety. The key isn’t in pin-pointing everything. As Piyush Mishra’s storyteller wisely said, ‘All stories are the same. Just delve in them and enjoy.’ So lay back on your seats, grab your pop-corn, and although I am two years late on the advice, jump in to the ‘Tamasha’.
The author is a software engineer at Infosys and a passionate film and football buff, with a special interest in deciphering the literature behind the movies.