Writing and making thrillers is never easy. It has to be gripping, should engage the viewers and has to steer away from predictability. And Reema Kagti’s ‘Talaash’ scores in all these aspects.
Written by Reema and Zoya Akhtar, ‘Talaash’ grips you from the very first shot and keeps you hooked through the two and half hours of its runtime. A tale of loss, betrayal and revenge, the film explores the many versions of truth and questions the obvious, leaving the viewer thinking of things unexplained.
Superstar Armaan Kapoor’s car nose dives into the sea one late night in Mumbai. While initial reports suggests it to be an accident, Inspector Surjan Singh Shekhwat (Aamir Khan), who is investigating the case, finds a murky case of blackmailing which may have a connection with the accident.
While investigating the case, he comes in contact with Tehmur (NawazuddinSiddiqui) a pimp’s right hand man and a prostitute called Rosy (KareenaKapoor) who may have the missing link to the jigsaw puzzle. Meanwhile, Shekhawat, himself is fighting demons of his past which has a direct impact on his marital life. Suffering from insomnia, Shekhawat roams around the empty streets of the city while his wife Roshni(Rani Mukerji) engulfs herself in grief and solitude back home.
By the looks of it, the film seems like an uncomplicated story, almost an ‘open and shut’ case. But as the story unfolds, layers of sub plots unravel truth which pushes Shekhawat to question his own beliefs.
The film’s narrative is slow and takes time to establish itself. In fact the initial shots almost make the viewer think that there are parallel plots in the story. But Kagti beautifully joins all the dots. Kagti unravels only bit by bit but never really gives in to the viewer’s curiosity until the very end. In fact, the director makes you think in a certain way, just the way she would want people to think which culminates to a mind boggling end.
While the story is clearly the highlight of the film, the cast beautifully takes it forward. Aamir Khan lives up to his image of experimenting with a role of a dark Surjan Singh Shekhawat. Aamir gives a very restrained performance and stays away from the stereotype, giving depth to his character. He plays a gritty cop but is also messiah to the needy. He is concerned about his wife’s mental state but himself finds it difficult to come to terms with his past.
Rani Mukerji delivers a sensitive portrayal of a mother and wife who is grappled with grief and is helpless to the present problems that are in front of her. A stark contrast from her over the top portrayal of Meenakshi in her last outing ‘Aiyyaa’, Rani makes the de-glam, depressive Roshni a character who you want to sympathise with.
But of the three leading cast, it is Kareena who shines the most as the friendly, helpful prostitute Rosy. She looks beautiful, in spite of her gaudy outfits, doesn’t over act (which she tends to do in many of her films) and demands all your attention when on screen. In fact in certain scenes, she overshadows Aamir, partly because her character is such and partly because at the end of the day she can act, provided she is given a good script and a good director. Good thing that the two leading ladies have a ‘Talaash’ releasing the same year when their earlier films (Aiyyaa and Heroine) almost had them packing their bags and heading towards retirement. The film puts them back in the place where they rightfully deserve to be, owing to their body of work.
The other shining star in the film is a man who has been making waves this year in various roles. As the limping Tehmur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui gives a flawless performance. But then, when does he not mesmerize the viewers? He plays a no nonsense cop in ‘Kahaani’ with as much élan as a revenge seeking gangster from ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ to even a limping pimp in ‘Talaash’. Each role varied, each character well defined by this incredibly talented man.
Shernaz Patel as the creepy, inquisitive neighbour ads to the story’s narrative but a talented actor like Rajkumar Yadav is somewhat wasted as Shekhawat’s assistant Devrath Kulkarni as he doesn’t get the chance to prove his mettle.
The camera work of Mohanan captures Mumbai in all its glory. The opening sequence, where the credits roll, is especially well shot and sets the mood of the film well. Most of the film is shot at night, and the contrasts between the plush suburban households to the murky lanes that lead to the brothels are well captured. Music by Ram Sampath is praiseworthy and is used in the background.
The film demands your patience as it establishes several characters in a leisurely pace and intertwines them beautifully into a story which makes an conscious effort to steer away from the clichés. Yes, there are few moments when the film tends to slack but soon enough a new twist demands you to sit up and concentrate properly on the film.
Watch it for the story. That is the actual hero of the film. The brilliant actors are just an icing on the cake.