Imtiaz Ali and Ranbir Kapoor’s second collaborative effort, Tamasha, is a bit of an enigma. It reveals less about its two protagonists than it withholds. It is tightfisted about emotional outflow. But still creates a very dramatic case history for its protagonists.
Many parts of the film read (and I deliberately use this word in place of ‘look’) like newly-done miniature paintings posted on ancient walls that have many stories to tell…the walls, not the newly placed paintings.
A quality of newly-assumed angst hovers over the lives of the protagonists, Ved and Tara, who are wretchedly unhappy in the way Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone could never be in their last outing together. In Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, their characters were inflicted with, and infused by, a congenital shallowness.
To director Imtiaz Ali’s credit, the lead pair in Tamasha seem inured in a genuine melancholy. They are neither faking their paranoia about the absence of love, nor pretending to be celebrating the presence of love even when pretense is made the founding-stone for their companionship.
Corsica, here they come.
Ranbir and Deepika, thoroughly enjoying the play-acting that their characters are subjected to, exchange corny, filmy dialogues in Corsica. This segment of the plot is not as enjoyable as the lead pair want us to believe. We can only sit back and smile indulgently .
For all the ersatz ebullience, a tragic grandeur envelopes the lives of Ved and Tara. The aura of sadness and solitude is infectious. It spreads out from the very handsome couple outward into the panoramic landscape. The gifted cinematographer Ravi Varman (he worked earlier in creating a contagious quirkiness for Ranbir in Barfi) uses his camara’s lenses to film pensive portraits of characters trapped in the darkness of their heart even when their environment is bright and inviting.
Imtiaz’s heroes are intrinsically unmoored. Whether it was Abhay deol in Socha Na Tha, Shahid Kapoor in Jab We Met, Randeep Hooda in Highway or Ranbir in Rockstar, these are not heroes anyone would like to sign to endorse Walt Disney productions.
Ranbir’s Ved in Tamasha is Imtiaz’s darkest most tortured hero yet. Ranbir in Rockstar was portrayed as predominantly a Devdas-type character. Here he is Devdas enveloped in ennui and self-loathing. He is bored with his life, and we are not allowed to feel overly sympathetic about his predicament. The plot and character seem to be tailormade for the actor. He fits into Imtiaz’s somber existential scheme with unhampered fluency.
Deepika in spite of being shrouded in pensiveness lights up every frame that she occupies. Her character can see the light beyond the darkness that this unhappy script Imtiaz Ali created for her. She invites us to share that invisible light. We do so happily.
Tamasha is a joyless drama wallowing in the tragic grandeur of two charismatic people who are eager to find a mutual love in one another. There are sequences that are written to accentuate Ranbir and Deepika’s ability to look aesthetic even when wretchedly unhappy. This was a problem faced in Rockstar also. The good-looks of the lead pair was hard for the tragedy to penetrate. In Tamasha we’ve a far more experienced and accomplished lead actress who makes her character’s dissatisfactions accessible and to a large accent penetrable for us.
Ranbir’s rancour is a harder nut to crack. He rages against Papa (tyrannical), work-place (monotonous), fate (cruel) and love (ambivalent) with Shakespearean aspirations that he cannot possibly achieve. His performance falters. This is probably seen as a good thing by the director who wants uncertainty from his hero.
On many occasion the narrative structure of Tamasha smacks of self-indulgence. The couple is shot in impossible postures of pain and protest. We writhe in the rhythms of rumination. What lifts the sagging mood of the drama are the principal performances and the virile storytelling which gives the lead pair room to grow, and groan.
Sadness, says Imtiaz’s new dramatic, dark and dense fable of fugitive love, Tamasha, is not an undesirable option. If Shakespeare thought some of life’s sweetest songs were the saddest, then A R Rahman isn’t far behind.
Imtiaz Ali’s vision cuts across the path of self-destruction in the hope of finding a comfort zone beyond the expectations we build around our intimate relationships.
Tamasha is a film with ambitions of being mature and experienced. It creates an alternate reality for its principal characters and lets their emotions grow naturally to a point. But then the journey gets tiring for everyone concerned.
It doesn’t really get there. But the effort is not unbearably laboured. This is a film that doesn’t entirely succeed in its endeavour to decode the heart’s enigmatic excursions. But the journey is fascinating and admirable, thought not entirely fulfilling.
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