‘Talaash’: 5 Things That Didn’t Work

Updated: Dec 04, 2012, 19:06 PM IST

Arya Yuyutsu

One year. That’s about how long I’ve waited to watch ‘Talaash’ as I eagerly traipsed into the cinema hall to finally watch it. Aamir Khan as a cop in a crime-thriller sounded pretty cool. I’d already read some rave reviews praising the movie, the acting, the plot and whatnot so I felt confident that I’d splurged wisely. Three hours later I emerged from the hall miserably disappointed.

Before you proceed I must warn you that the article contains spoilers and if you haven’t watched the movie, you’d be ill-advised to read this.

1. Genre

One walks into the hall expecting a crime-thriller, and it began on that path as well, with intricately woven plots rendering an intriguing case that much more fascinating. The story rests firmly on the “crime” element in it as Inspector Shekhawat’s talaash (search) for an explanation to the bizarre crash proceeds laboriously.

This goes on, through painfully slow twists and turns through what feels like a never-ending maze, and just when one begins to wonder just how this all makes sense, we’re firmly told that it doesn’t. Nope. It’s now a horror movie. The story is about a ghost’s revenge!

The whole concept of a ghost that explains it all makes the entire intricate plot of blackmail and gangs and prostitution seem utterly pointless.

2. Revenge

Talking about revenge, Rosy / Simran / The Ghost, played by the Kareena, seems to be quite obsessed with getting back at the two guys who’d left her to die on the road. Once in the afterlife, Rosy must’ve thought long and hard, plotting a fitting revenge. After all, it took her three years to get back at Armaan Kapoor, by now a major celeb star.

What did she do in those three years? Practice her killing move, of course! In the early parts of the movie, a constable walks up to Inspector Shekhawat (Aamir Khan) in the precinct and tells him to give up on the case because such events have been happening on that stretch for three years now.

Let’s do the math: Rosy has three people to blame for her death: Armaan, his friend Kejriwal and Shashi the pimp. As the movie starts she’s claimed her first victim of the three, Armaan. Yet the constable says there’s been similar strange murders there over the last few years.

So the ghost has a few trial runs before going for the big guns. Very pro!

3. Unravelling

Just as the plot-line has reached its most complex level, the script throws a ghost in your face rather conveniently. Even if that were acceptable, and not likened to an obverse Deus Ex Machina, the story’s pace makes for a rather dull “I get what you did there” moment.

Slow paced thrillers only make sense if the end turns out to be a flash. But even after we see the ghost, have a few hair on the back of our necks standing awkwardly, we are fed another 10 minutes of story as the script tries to finish all the complicatedly knotted loose ends as conveniently as possible.

What starts off as an intriguing watch, ends up as a tame quarter hour of flashbacks and “all’s well that ends well”.

4. Inspector Shekhawat

Aamir is, admittedly, a wonderful actor but Inspector Shekhawat failed to live up to the billing. Shekhawat is the protagonist: the insomniac, driven, fabulous cop who’s battling his own demons as he tries to solve a seemingly impossible case.

Even so, his character is hardly fleshed out. We know he has a wife and the trauma of a lost child has scarred him emotionally. We also hear that he’s a brilliant cop with a “great reputation”, but that’s never on evidence in a case where he always seems out of his depths. He doesn’t even have a clue about Tehmur’s little plots, in spite of catching him early on. Rosy’s ghost almost has to spoon-feed him the next step.

An under-developed lead character is perhaps in keeping with a movie that fails to develop any character at all. This would, ordinarily, be fine if this were a thriller as billed, keeping the potential suspect count at a maximum, but by the end you don’t really relate to the distressed cop and, despite Aamir’s acting, fail to feel his pain.

The strongest character by far in the movie is Tehmur, played by the inspired Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who loses his life in a twisted show of love so that his beloved can lead a happy life. Perhaps a story just about Tehmur would’ve made for a more fascinating tale.

5. Focus

But these were just some of the problems in an array of little problems with the much awaited movie. The main reason it failed is its lack of focus.

The movie starts with a seemingly inexplicable death. Scratch a little and we are led into a labyrinth of little plots through the mazy gullies of Mumbai. The issue seems to be about the crime. Grand.

Then come the night-workers, women pursuing the oldest profession. The movie deals with this aspect alongside the crime bit. This, though, seems to be the new focus. Rosy even eggs Aamir to save another prostitute who’s trying to quit. Tehmur loses his life in a bid to leave the underground scene, trying to set him and his beloved up so that they can have a new life. There seems to be a message developing somewhere there.

But just as things begin to make sense a vengeful ghost pops in and the new focus is revenge and belief in the paranormal. The concluding scenes seem to focus on that element alone and the intricate crime plot, the prostitute issue and what happens to Tehmur’s object of affection are conveniently left out.

‘Talaash’ is billed as a hit but the fact is that “what lies beneath” a fascinatingly interesting foundation is a half-baked platter of air.