November 30, 2012

Inner Demons

Spoiler Warning: Please do NOT read this post if you have not watched ‘Talaash’ and plan to.

Intuition is a funny thing. It often surprises you with its precision, and effectiveness. Several times while watching a film the very first few minutes can make you feel that there is ‘something wrong’ with it. On the other hand, it may even leave you pre-maturely impressed. Here, I’m not talking about the obviously impressive or unimpressive design of a movie that might help the rational mind form an opinion. No. It’s not an opinion, it’s intuition. And often there is no rationale involved. I remember a few scenes into ‘Saat Khoon Maaf’ and I was getting restless – something was not right. By the mid-point of the film, I was convinced that my intuition had worked well. Today morning, by 9.30 am, it had worked again. A few minutes into ‘Talaash’ and I could ‘feel’ what a film it was going to be.

‘Talaash’ works at so many different levels that it leaves you surprised. Beyond being a hard-core suspense-thriller, with elements from the supernatural, it goes beyond and works powerfully as an emotional, well-made drama. It’s not an easy screenplay to write – and despite more than a couple of important characters, a lot of dramatic developments occurring simultaneously, and an intricate and intelligent design of exposition, and fulfilling and reversing expectations, it manages to remain taut as a rope, up there on a dangerously high cliff, and does not let you lay back as the protagonist goes through a journey that would redeem him and rid him of his inner demons. Perhaps just one song, in which the protagonist is seen chasing the character of ‘Rosie’, is where you feel the editing could have been better. Removing that song does not affect the movie at all, and makes it tighter. Apart from that, I don’t recall a single scene in the film that can be deleted without affecting the narrative. Even scenes that did not make much sense while being played did so by the end when the powerful and incredible climax changes the entire film, from its genre to its impact, and gives it the catharsis it truly deserves. ‘Talaash’ is not the story of a police inspector trying to solve a mysterious death case. It is the story of a father who is troubled by an obsessive guilt complex born after the unfortunate demise of his only son. The protagonist’s journey, externally, is on the streets of Mumbai, more in the dark alleys than under the bright sun, chasing culprits and witnesses and informers, but the film is mainly an inner struggle that the leading man goes through, within the twisted realms of his mind, until something inexplicable and equally unfortunate drags him out of the unending ordeal he had imposed upon himself.

Past week has not been easy for me. If you read my post on ‘Life of Pi’ you will understand why. Now as I look back, I realize, I never underwent a sentimental catharsis, despite a long and stressful emotional experience during my Kashmir trip. Perhaps that was the reason why I couldn’t feel free after my return. I knew that time will heal me, but had surprisingly forgotten that cinema can bypass that time for me. Reading Aamir Khan’s interview where he said that he had cried after the script was narrated to him, I couldn’t take him seriously. He says so before all his movies, I found myself arguing. But watching the first show this morning, as I saw Aamir, the actor, weeping inconsolably at the denouement, I had joined him. Tears went down my face as the film devastated me. I had gone for some thrills and mind-games, I came out an emotionally redeemed man, having experienced a surrogate sentimental cleansing experience good cinema can magically offer. I only wish the ‘twist-ending’ of the film is not revealed through social networking sites, spoiling the film for those who’d watch it later than others.

P.S. I was especially pleased to see Rani Mukerjee play the part with the warmth and sensitivity she naturally possesses. Feels good to find her play a good role after a long time; her contribution to the impact of the film goes beyond her screen time.


  1. Sir,

    Just watched Talaash for the second time. Just to point out the glitches. But I have to say, the whole movie is intelligently planned. I really feel the dialogues of the movie deserve lots of credit. (My honest opinion) Because even Temur's character comes out very well... He just has two or three major scenes. But while watching it for the second time I really felt for him. Not just him, but all the subordinate characters. Shashi's girlfriend... Really want to discuss this with you. Whenever possible :)

  2. Hi Abhiraj,
    It's always a pleasure to discuss cinema. Let's do it sometime soon. I also have to watch your film that went to MAMI.