It starts with a boy. An old guy under a tree narrating stories from all over the world to a child. And it moves to the grown hero making a friend, and more, with a girl without exchanging even their real names.
It starts with the girl. Alone and then, not so alone, as she strikes a friendship with a stranger. With a promise to not remain friends. But you know how it is. They become more than friends. Get separated. They meet again, but she meets a completely different person when she meets him again. Gone was the reckless storyteller, the impulsive raconteur, the guy brimming with life, with weird ideas and stories. She found a corporate drone.
Tamasha is the story of that guy, and their relationship. This is a story of the usual middle class story we all are told and then we all attempt to replicate. Work hard at the “subjects”, study, work, die. Excellence, when it happens, is an accident. Happiness at job, if it happens, is happenstance. Happiness in life is defined by standard goals and predefined milestones.
Tamasha is about the chains that bind us, about the pain of the chains and the pain of breaking the chains. Is there liberation at the end of this tunnel, or have the chains dug so deep they’re now a part of us?
Tamasha is not a perfect film. The weirdness becomes too much at times. The narratives self-indulgent. The stories of the old storyteller are often too jumbled up to follow. About an hour in, I was scared about where it was going. But this is a film that grows. I suspect that may happen in more ways than one.
Imtiaz Ali has a bad habit of making films that become habit themselves. How many times have we seen Jab We Met? And I have revisited Rockstar several times, often gaining another perspective. This has the potential to be another such affair. But equally, I fear this will not be universally acclaimed. This will be a harder sell for the masses than even Rockstar. The lead couple is my hope to give it a leg up.
Because the lead couple is great. Ranbir Kapoor is a chameleon throughout the film. His conversations with the mirror are fantastic. His immersion in his character at holiday, at work, and the progression through the film is flawless. But Deepika, in my view, is what made the screen sparkle. She infuses so much in her character I can imagine her lying utterly exhausted at the end of every shot. This film would have found it hard to sustain interest, despite all the clever writing, had she not been in it.
It is a truism that Rahman’s music grows on you. So do Imtiaz films. And when they collaborate, they create something slightly magical. Tamasha is a kind of slow, imperfect, emotional magic. I liked Tamasha. And I think I’ll watch it again. Give it a go. Expect weirdness.
In the classic love stories, heroes go in search of the heroine after they lose her. In Tamasha, the hero has to find himself. And that’s what the movie is about.