Just short of an hour into the film, I was up to there with ‘Tamasha’. All we’d got till then was scene after pretty scene in Corsica – picturesque bistros, colourful locals in fancy dress, leafy green countryside, sparkling blue waters, and two of the most interesting actors in Bollywood desperately acting out their parts : over-emphasising their meet-cute, making eyes and coming hither. To absolutely no effect. No impact. Zero. Nada.
Can you imagine getting Ranbir and Deepika and not letting them fall into a real, true, passionate twosome, because the writing in this initial part of the film forces them into an annoyingly artificial construct : we know we are combustible, but we won’t, because you know, we are in this make-believe la-la land where we won’t reveal our real selves?
Got it? No? Good, because I didn’t either.
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Ved ( Ranbir) and Tara ( Deepika) swan around cluelessly and uselessly in the first hour of the film, and you wonder just how much more of waste it can get . And then, surprise, it gets better, and so do they. And ‘Tamasha’ becomes, somewhat, the film you presume Ali and his actors had set out to make.
Turns out that the obedient, well-behaved boy that Ved used to be has grown into the obedient, well-behaved young adult, but not in any way that does him any good. A demanding father sets Ved upon a path not of his own choosing, and the break-through comes when he meets the girl : the cocoon shatters, and the real Ved emerges, putting his yes-sir, no-sir, three-bags-full-sir robotic existence behind him, coming out into a world of light and imagination and magic.
Ved loves being told stories. He discovers he loves telling stories as much. When the director delves deep into this groove, he mines something solid and yes, I will use that word again, real. Those are the moments that make this film shine, and leave you smiling. It’s interesting how accepting that make-believe can set you free sets both the director and the actor free : there are flashes here of the terrific actor that Ranbir can be, and that’s a relief both for the performer as well as the audience.
Deepika is luminous, and she is much more sure-footed in her part. Even though Ranbir gets more space, Tara is drawn with welcome depth : it is usually a leading man’s prerogative to sulk and stomp. Did she fall in love with her idea of love, and can she sustain it with the passage of time? Ali puts forth a fairly radical idea as well : can the love that you feel when you are out of time, in exotic locales, survive a storm of ordinariness? Of ‘aam-aadminess’?
We do get the answers, and they do leave us feeling warm and fuzzy, but it’s not enough. That wasted, stretched introduction is a problem. So is the director’s penchant of using music to underline the sentiments : why not more confidence in just letting the moment, and the actor, speak for itself? Why the clunkiness?
I really liked a lot of the second half. There’s so much good stuff going on, including the pair which strays, and then journeys towards each other. Despite its flaws, this is Ali’s most complex story, teeming with ideas, and gives us Ranbir back again, along with the lovely Deepika, even if the plot keeps losing sight of her : there are tracts when she goes missing.
Pity it peters out.