Tamasha shines light on ordinariness

Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone flit from Corsica to Simla, Kolkata and New Delhi in Tamasha.
Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone flit from Corsica to Simla, Kolkata and New Delhi in Tamasha.PHOTO: UTV

THE STORY: Ved (Ranbir Kapoor) and Tara (Deepika Padukone) meet in beautiful Corsica after Tara loses her passport and money. They decide to be friends without revealing their identities. When the holiday ends with the arrival of her new passport and she returns home to the Indian city of Kolkata, Tara realises she has fallen in love with a man whose name she does not know.

If I had not left my phone at home, I, too, would have been tempted to Facebook away just like the other audience members were doing last Saturday night.

Director Imtiaz Ali's complicated cinematic canvas does make you wonder where he is taking you, particularly in the first half of the movie.

There are flashbacks. There are stories within stories. There are characters from legends past showing up randomly, and these range from the evil Ravana in the epic Ramayana to Laila and Majnu, thwarted lovers from an ancient Persian poem.

  • REVIEW / ROMANTIC DRAMA

  • TAMASHA (PG)

    139 minutes/Now showing/3/5 stars

It takes a while to settle into the story as the camera quickly pans from Corsica to Simla, Kolkata and New Delhi.

As you flit between places, you slowly start becoming curious about Ved and Tara's fate. One part hopes they will meet again, with the most random of clues they have at their disposal.

When they eventually do, nothing prepares you or them for the tamasha, or drama, about to unfold.

On holiday in Corsica, Ved hams it up as a carefree, smart, line-spouting actor of sorts. In real life, he mirrors the lives many people lead. He puts his tie on for work, makes sales pitches and tries to meet the expectations of his middle-class family, giving up his story-telling dreams.

When Tara comes back into his life, she makes him question these things. As the drama unfolds, the actors bring raw emotions to the fore and that is when you truly start feeling their story.

Tamasha is a film that is not in a hurry. It is a slow, meandering ride, a bit like life itself. It works best for people who are into long-winded conversations that have no apparent beginning or ending.

I could call it nuanced, complex and layered, but these are words that have been used many times. Ali's film is so much more. It is not just about Ved and Tara.

In our world of filtered perfection, it shines the light on ordinariness. It celebrates mediocrity with such elan it invites a re-visitation. It forces viewers to question many things they might not wish to otherwise. And in taking us through that, it allows us to dream a little dream.

Tamasha is a beautifully imperfect story which stays with you because of the compelling acting, the dialogue and Oscar-winning composer A. R. Rahman's haunting music.

In the director's words, the story "slowly grows on you".

There is no heady rush, just a long hangover that makes you reflect on life, love and almost everything in between.

This is a rare movie that, in our world of instant endorsements and fleeting moments of fame, has the power of staying with us. Maybe because it feels real.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2015, with the headline 'Tamasha shines light on ordinariness'. Print Edition | Subscribe