The curious case of Talaash – works best when you know the twist

Posted: December 7, 2012 by moifightclub in bollywood, cinema, film, film review, movie reviews, reviews
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My blood group is C+ve. And i don’t mean the Hindi cuss word that starts with “C”. Because there’s no other explanation for me getting so restless about films and going to bed peacefully only after i have chased all the possible “sources” to know what the films (or its spoilers) are about. Blame it on occupational hazard, or maybe am in this occupation because of the same blood group. Also, because for me, films are more about “how they happen” and not “what happens”.

Nothing to boast about but i knew about the so called big twist of Talaash almost a year back. Though i had my doubts about it but everything related to the film was pointing in the same direction. And a year is a long time to make peace with the “ghostly” fact. As the release date of Talaash was near, i was travelling out of country. Curious that i am, got in touch with a friend who was watching the film much before anyone else. I asked him if he can let me know as soon as he is done with it. He saw it, liked it, and said, he is not going to tell me the spoilers. I told him, i am going to tell him what i know, and he just has to say yes or no. I asked him about the big twist. He said, yes, but how do you know? Well, the first rule is you never reveal your sources. Aha, much relief after waiting for a year. I quickly tweeted that yes, yes, yes, it’s the same twist that we knew since a year back. At least the C+ souls like me will get a good night’s sleep finally.

I saw the film almost a week after its release. And i have concluded that if you know the twist, the film works in a much better way. And there are many reasons for it. First, the pitch. The makers tried to keep the per-release campaign quite low-key because of the fear that the twist might get out due to over-exposure. Everything pointed out that it’s a thriller or suspense drama. The font of the print campaign started becoming bigger with the countdown – TRUTH will be out in 5…4…3….2…1 day. You can’t blame anyone when everyone saw the same story in the promotions – a cop chasing the death of a film star. He has to crack the case. So what is the TRUTH? The big twist? Now, if the baggage comes down to the fact that Kareena is a ghost who guides Aamir Khan’s character to crack the case, it seems straight out of @OMGFacts, or evn LOL-Facts. It’s easy to dismiss it when you have invested so much in the case which looks so real, and with such great mood that creates the world around it and builds the prefect pace. Ghost? That’s a joke, that’s so flimsy! The writers could not think of anything else?

Now, imagine if the film was pitched to you as “supernatural drama”. You are prepared for it and it’s much to easy to accept it that way. But i think the writers of the film did set up the track of Rani Mukerjee quite well to give you a hint in which direction the film was heading. It wasn’t like a pop-up music video. I can’t say with full confidence but i think i would have still liked it if i had no clue about the twist.

Show me a man who was shattered by the unnatural death of a loved one, and has made peace with it without doing anything unnatural. Shit happens, and then we find our ways to cope with it. I am an atheist but  i have seen/heard/experienced things which are difficult to explain and impossible to believe. They remain unanswered and life goes on till another death comes knocking.

Also, when you don’t know the twist, you are waiting for the big revelation in the end. The problem is the fashion in which we have been conditioned to watch films – the theory of “end me kya hota hai?” But Talaash is much more than that. And you can focus on the rest, which is so gorgeous, once the twist is out of your way. In fact, that’s not even the film. It’s about a couple coming to terms with the loss of their kid. Both take different routes to trace that piece of peace. The murder case is purely incidental. But the sad part is you won’t waste you weekend to watch a couple coming to terms with the death of their loved ones. Will you? You need coke, corn and crap on screen for your weekend outing. So most probably they decided to hook you with that “murder mystery” pitch. And i must admit that’s it gives me a kind of sadistic pleasure to know that you have been cheated.

And in a good way, it also reminded me of an all time favourtive film of mine – Umesh Kulkarni’s Vihir. Because love, loss, death, water, wandering souls, and peace – the motifs are the same here. If you still haven’t seen it, WATCH IT!

Without any doubt, Talaash is one of the best directed films of the year. Mohanan’s photography with Sampath’s music creates such a compelling mood. The tone is set as soon as the credit roll begins with those invisible faces and characters that bollywood doesn’t give a fuck about even though they are at every signal in this city. Rani Mukerjee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Raj Kumar Yadav, Sheeba Chaddha, Aditi Vasudev and Subrat Datta – all of them are in top form here. You are hooked to it till the interval happens, and then Cinemax Versova killed the mood for me by playing commercials for at least 30minutes. Had to go out and shout at the manager to start the film post-interval.

Another criticism i have heard so far is that the film scratches the surface, and it doesn’t go any deep. Aha, i have always believed that it entirely depends on you – how you want to read the film. If you can’t scratch beyond the surface, don’t put the blame on the film and the filmmaker always. Instead click here and read the best piece on the film.

I might not be a fan of Aamir Khan but you have to appreciate the choices he makes. He believes in them and pulls it off. Compare it to the films of others A-list stars of Bollywood. What are they doing? What are the delivering? All the focus is on 100-crore these days. And when it’s so much easy to deliver that with cheap crap-corn-cola, why put so much effort and take a risk? Respect for that.

Also, am wondering if it’s high time to divide Excel’s films into Farhan Akhtar Films and Zoya Akhtar/Reema Kagti Films. Someone compared Kartik Calling Kartik to Talaash on twitter and said KCK was better. I tried hard to control my laughter. That film had much more baggage on its twist and it was a (chinese?) joke in the end. And, remember Game – their another venture in similar space? Don’t have words in my dictionary to describe that garbage. Not sure why, but i feel these films belong to Farhan Akhtar who has been on a downhill since his brilliant debut, Dil Chahta Hai. But the ladies are trying new things and pulling it off with so much ease – Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd, Luck By Chance, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and now, Talaash. To quote another favourite dialogue of the year, Farhan Baba, tumse na hoga ab, rehne do. Bus acting hi kar lo.

(PS – Can we please nominate Aamir’s eyebrows for performance of the year? Though his moustache was vying hard for attention but my vote goes for the eyebrows.)

– Posted by @CilemaSnob

  1. Varun Varghese says:

    Also it has a very peculiar aftertaste, stays with you for a long time.

  2. fattiemama says:

    The best way to make the twist work was to set it up in the Aamir-Rani relshp. It needn’t have been about them trying to deal with the loss of the kid, simply begin the film with them , their almost-at-the-edge relshp and bring in the case a bit later on and it would be done.

    And thanks for snide comment on the ‘scratching the surface’ bit. Didn’t expect that out of you 🙂

    • moifightclub says:

      ahahahah arre that wasn’t for you. that was for the sardar friend who was complaining about depth and surface last night 😉 why would i go snide on you when i can say it directly?

  3. Zayden says:

    Quite liked the film for the atmosphere and ambience it creates. But, you can’t position a film as a murder mystery when it actually is a Supernatural drama. You just can’t. I am not at all surprised that most of the mainstream audience (people who liked PST, Vicky Donor, Barfi, English Vinglish, Kahaani) are feeling cheated. I would have felt the same too had I not known the twist beforehand. And, this is why I also agree with you that the film works when the twist is already known.

  4. @navjotalive says:

    About the surface bit. let me try to write what i felt in better words than i spoke..his son is dead and wants to tell his dadda that he is fine and it was not his fault that he died..Rani keeps visiting Shernaz and when Aamir opens the cupboard he finds many letters but picks just one of them which clears his guilt for his child unfortunate death.

    What i’m interested to know was what was the kid trying to tell his mom with ALL those letters. Everyday he can’t say the same thing..can he? how about shedding some light on ‘afterlife’? concept of hell and heaven? God or Supreme Power? Concept of Karma? why the accident happened? Free will?

    Again this is what i felt should/could have come in the screenplay. It is the choice of the writers. What i felt was that the writers are not convinced themselves about their take on the whole issue. Resolving it with a letter which addresses the core Point is all fine but again i feel it could have been done in a much better way. You may or may not agree.

  5. fattiemama says:

    mfc – Phew. Was actually wondering what happened to you.

    Navjot – I think Shernaz’ char gave enough explanation about the after-life thing, anything more and we’d have screamed it was spoon-feeding. Or maybe it is just me coz I do read a lot about it so it was all familiar territory. Also, the film wasn’t about the death of the child, it was about Aamir-Rani’s grief- their ‘Talaash’ for release, that’s why digging deeper into that wasn’t really required I think. And the after-life thing was more of a tool towards helping them achieve that and alongside set the right framework to justify Kareena’s character and for that it sufficed. About the letter bit, again quite immaterial to the entire end right? The kid just wanted to tell his dad not to feel guilty and that was achieved, wasn’t it? Besides, Aamir reading only one was clearly cause of the outrage he felt, as soon as read it, on Rani going ahead with what he considered humbug and hence dropping it to confront her with it. It all fits in, doesn’t it?

    • @navjotalive says:

      for me the film lacked just one thing. Conviction in writing. let me put it this way. Vikram Bhatt makes SHIT movies. But he believes in the world he creates. He is not scared to go the distance with his insane theories of the supernatural but these people were. and i was not convinced about Aamir getting over the loss..somehow i found the last scene Satyamev Jayetish..yes..that is my biggest problem..Kahaani with all its convenience and plot holes made me feel for Rana and Bidya Bagchi. In Talaash the only character i felt for was Nawaaz.

  6. Sumit says:

    Another movie in recent times that dealt in a somewhat similar space – ‘Rabbit Hole’ – and was quite good. Without the whole murder angle, ofcourse.

    Would have been interesting to see if the makers would have been able to pull off this movie with the whole murder angle.

  7. Freddie Mercury would be turning in his grave. Wonder why Reema/Zoya could not find a better mooch for Aamir

  8. PeeKay says:

    Did somebody notice the acknowledgement paid to Eraserhead in one of the scenes?

  9. ashish dixit says:

    anyone remembers yash birla in rendevouz with simil garewal where he mentioned about losing his whole family in an air crash and talking to their spirits or something like that. I don’t how he was before that incident but his whole existence today appears of be a reflection of his loss and his effort to cope with it.

  10. I wonder that your blog which believes in ripping apart most of the films is trying to find finer points in Talaash? What was new in Talaash? Have not we seen this concept of Bhoot already umpteen times in Indian movies? Yeah, you may be right that it would have worked better if I had known the “ The Big Twist” before because after interval I was wondering what the fuck this efficient inspector was doing. Inspector Shekhaawat almost stopped investigating the case and was spending time with this hot girl and seemed quite attracted to her sexually (his bad luck that she was just spirit 😉 I didn’t know the twist and that is why I can say that conversation between Aamir and Kareena was quite boring and I was getting impatient while the ‘rotadu’ inspector was telling his sob stories.

    I think that Talaash should be renamed as Gumraah as the whole Nawaazuddin – Kejariwal ( ; ) plot was misleading for viewers, or should I say time-pass. Writers took the pain to create a whole track which has nothing to do with main story and which makes us viewers feel that we are stupid..

    And that thing that Aaamir finally found the letter of his son where he asked him not to feel guilty and then they all started living happily ever after is the lamest explanation ever. You can not wrap and pack up the feelings, they live with you at every moment. And once people start believing in this mysteries world, there is no end of their desire to exploration. I hope that Aaamir- Raani’s char’s will not plan weekend meetings with their son at that freaking neighbor’s home.

    Talaash first exploits the formula but then tries to wrap it up in haste to hide its own shame and guilt. Yes, what @navjotalive said is right that Vikram Bhatt or even Ramsay brothers believe in world they create but it is not same with Talaash.

    And mind you, that movie is not about the ‘couple coming to terms with the death of their loved ones’; this is just another formula, the cheapest formula to exploit the human’s emotions to the lowest level.

    Talaash team should find a new way to get over with their guilt, this talking to spirits just don’t work!.

    • nagrathnam says:

      ” I was getting impatient while the ‘rotadu’ inspector was telling his sob stories.” – the film has failed to connect with you rahul. No amount of explanation would suffice.

      “which has nothing to do with main story and which makes us viewers feel that we are stupid..” – the main story IS the father-son loss story (Rabbit Hole). The investigation and everything else is incidental. The movie is exactly about a ‘couple coming to terms with the death of their loved ones’;

      • Duke says:

        I knew the twist before watching and agree it works better that way but only as a way to satiate our immense desire to applaud Aamir Khan and such a different movie..The murder mystery/supernatural story was average, actually quite lame, unexciting and done to death in hundreds of movies, you cant play on this angle during promotions and when this bit comes out weak in the final product go and overplay the other bit saying it was always about the loss of a child.. Even if it was about the characters and a different story, do not make it one dimensional with inane dialogues, finally it feels like a film with B Movie ethos with A movie production values..with a desperate attempt to give it some depth.. Please do not do a Damon Lindelof and “LOST” on us.. 🙂

    • moifightclub says:

      @rahul the blog doesnt believe in ripping apart movies. it believes in honestly saying whatever one feels. if am not wrong, the blog has promoted more movies compared to what it has ripped apart. about the film i have clearly written that it can go into LOL facts as well. but you cant force me to change what i feel.

  11. I can not say much but I can tell you for sure that I was far more connected than anybody else with the character and his loss and I was with him and his feelings in the whole movie but it doesn’t mean that I am going to buy any lame explanation in the end to find a happy bollywoodish solution. Life is a constant pain, when you try to find easy answers for it , you just make a fool of yourself. And this talking and believing in spirits is not a way for a couple to come to terms with the death of their loved ones. Definitely not!!!! Movie ends on a loose end! That was not end , that was just a beginning of a stupid journey which ends in a dark hole.

  12. Arijit says:

    Well written…analyzes the movie on its merits…in fact i liked the way the movie was set up apparently as a whodunit and then go about pulling the rug…the thriller angle is kind of the MacGuffin in this film…and also the way the film is paced…most hindi films are paced at a breakneck pace nowadays because otherwise people will understand they are being fed the “corn-cola crap”…and obviously the mood…there are very few directors today who even bother about lighting mood etc. in the commercial mainstream…what doesn’t work are most of the dialogues and this fact can be attributed to farhan akhtar’s writing the dialogues (after thinking them in english and then translating them to hindi)…wonder what would have happened if anurag kashyap wrote all the dialogues instead of farhan…

  13. […] some films and filmmakers. Not to mention being branded contrarian for the sake of it. From saying Talaash works best when you know the spoiler to defending Shyamalan’s latest to liking Raanjhanaa’s 2nd half more to Ghanchakkar […]

  14. […] The ghostly part might be considered a spoiler but since the film’s title already tells you that, am not sure if it should be counted as one. The film is called “Qissa – The Tale Of A Lonely Ghost”. I think that’s a smart choice to let the audience be prepared for it, and on a similar tangent, it was a mistake which Talaash makers did by not getting the spoiler out. […]

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