The moment one saw the trailer of ‘Tamasha’, a sense of déjà vu prevailed over the senses. The characters seemed familiar and the plot (barring the tamasha angle) appeared to have followed a downtrodden path. One strongly felt that director Imtiaz Ali had picked up a few characters and ideas from his earlier films and put them all together in his new venture featuring Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone.
Ved Vardhan Sahni (Ranbir Kapoor) and Tara Maheshwari (Deepika Padukone) meet while holidaying in Corsica. Ved believes things would turn out to be dull if they introduce themselves to each other. He says that concealing their identities would make the trip all the more fun. They also resolve not to meet each other after they part ways. Together, they set out on a trip across the French island. As the time comes for Tara to leave the country, she realizes that she has feelings for Ved. She reaches out to Ved, they share an intimate moment but they decide to honour their promise of not seeing each other after the trip. Tara comes back to Delhi but finds it impossible to forget Ved. She even breakups with her boyfriend as she realizes she is still in love with Ved and cannot get over him. Years have passed but Tara cannot bring herself to forget Ved. One day, Tara’s search finally bears fruit as she finds him in a restaurant. They meet and start going out together. Ved, too, falls in love with Tara. At first, Tara is ecstatic to find herself reunited with Ved. However, as she spends with him, she realizes he is not the same guy anymore. He has changed and Tara does not seem to be fascinated by the kind of uptight person he has turned into.
The first half of Tamasha, though predictable, passes off like a breeze because of the fresh treatment Imtiaz lends it. The early portions, in which the lead pair does not reveal their true identities and part ways after spending some memorable time together, keep you consistently engaged. The film moves fast and by the time it reaches the interval point, it makes you invest in it as an audience as too many developments have taken place in the lives of the character by then. It is the second half where the film seems to lose direction. While the second half has several moments that tug at your heartstrings, it does get bogged down because of inconsistent writing and indulgence on the part of the director. There is a very powerful sequence in which Tara meets Tara and apologizes for telling him that he has changed and, in the process, making him feel bad about him. The scene in which Ved explains his predicament to his family is impactful to a certain extent. The portion, in which, Dev bursts out in front of his boss and colleagues, is too far-fetched for one to take it seriously. The film tries to convey the message that one should follow their dream. But, that message does not come across very effectively because of the lack of drama in some key scenes in the second half. The climax seems rushed up and fails to make a lasting impact.
After the failure of films like ‘Besharam’ and ‘Bombay Velvet’, Ranbir Kapoor is back to playing a character that falls well within his comfort zone. One has seen the actor in similar roles in the past, one does not complain as he plays them so well. Deepika Padukone is a revelation. She looks breathtakingly gorgeous and plays her part with panache. It was not an easy role to play but she brings out Tara come alive on the screen with her effortless performance and scorching screen presence. Jawed Sheikh brings out a fine balance in playing the stern yet understanding father to Ved. Vivek Mushran is very funny as the Ved’s boss. Sushma Seth is nice but does not get too many scenes. Piyush Mishra leaves his mark as the vagabond storyteller.
Imtiaz Ali’s direction is very good. As a writer, he falters with fleshing out the second half as the writing seems all over the place. After a crisp and fast paced first half, he loses grip in the second half. Also, he fails to come up with an emotionally rousing climax, which was the need of the hour. The cinematography, by S. Ravi Verman, is one of the biggest strengths of the film. Be it the eye-filling landscape of Corsica or the lush mountains of Simla, everything looks appealing to the eyes. The film, like ‘Rockstar’, has a non-linear narrative to it and editor Aarti Bajaj does a great job at arranging all the scenes in a way that they do not look disjointed. A. R Rahman’s music is a mixed bag. While some of the songs make an impact instantly, the rest are best enjoyed visually. Rahman’s background score is terrific though. The lustrous look of the film can be credited to the production designer (Acropolis) and art direction (Manini Mishra).
Even though Imtiaz Ali revisits the themes explored by him in his earlier films, he makes sure that Tamasha comes across as a fresh product. The film boasts of some terrific moments that warm up the cockles of your heart but somehow, one feels the director does not fully exploit the idea he had. Though Tamasha makes for a good watch, a more impactful second half, minus a few indulgent scenes, could have resulted in a better film.