Tamasha, the latest offering from Imtiaz Ali, is a romantic drama film starring Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone in the lead roles. Produced by Sajid Nadiawala, the movie revolves around two free-spirited individuals, Ved (Kapoor) and Tara (Padukone), who meet in Corsica, France, but choose not to disclose their identities (they interact only through role-plays). They nonetheless fall in love but promise each other never to meet again once they leave Corsica. "What happens in Corsica stays in Corsica," as Tara playfully puts it. After sharing some intimate moments together the two finally part ways in keeping with their promise. But, as fate would have it, they meet once again a few years later in India and instantly reconnect. However, Tara soon begins to realise that Ved is not what he appeared to be back in Corsica. Has Ved really changed? Or is it Tara who is at fault?
"The movie inspires us to exercise our right to choose and seize the moment instead of continuing to live a life that others chose for us."
Tamasha is essentially a film about the endless possibilities of life. We are often so busy following our daily routines that we fail to realise that at all points in time we have a choice to make changes and start afresh. All we need is a strong will. The movie inspires us to exercise our right to choose and seize the moment instead of continuing to live a life that others chose for us. As Imtiaz Ali explains, "What Tamasha is trying to say is that don't be satisfied with the stories you hear around you, create your own myth, choose your own story. Sometimes in trying to belong, you lose your edge, you become blunt and you forget who you are unless someone comes to remind you, someone who has seen you at that time. It's not that simple because it takes the undoing of entire life's experience to get in touch with yourself and your wild energy."
In Tamasha, Imtiaz Ali pays homage to the very art of storytelling. Ved is enchanted by stories and grows up listening to the yarns of an old tale-teller who despite his mastery is not beyond mixing up the Ramayana and The Iliad. Ali also pays a memorable tribute to the great Dev Anand. In Corsica, during one of his role-plays (so as to keep his true identity hidden), Ved imitates the legendary Indian actor. Ali elicits brilliant performances from Kapoor and Padukone who do great justice to their delicate caricatures; according to reports, Kapoor even took special classes from mime artists. The two stars look stunning together and share excellent on-screen chemistry. While the movie's subject bears some resemblance to Before Sunrise, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, and Good Will Hunting, starring Matt Damon and Robin Williams, the treatment of the subject certainly makes it unique.
Overall, Tamasha is a cinematic triumph that seamlessly blends commercial and art-house elements. It is also one of the most memorable films of the year and every Indian youngster should go watch it with their parents. Much like Taare Zameen Par and 3 Idiots, Tamasha reminds us that each child is born with a distinct set of qualities and the onus truly lies with the parents to allow their children to excel in life while pursuing their dreams instead of bludgeoning them into submission and forcing them to live in mediocrity. The movie reinforces the point that all of us need not be doctors or engineers or bankers, for there are other avenues to be explored based on our interests and aspirations.
The movie's complex narrative (with its different timelines) may pose a few challenges to some viewers but a little patience can certainly make it a rewarding experience. Tamasha comes across as a very personal work and while it may not be able to match the commercial success of some of Ali's earlier films it will certainly encourage other leading filmmakers in Bollywood to make more such meaningful films that simultaneously entertain, inspire and make us think.
A version of this review was first published at A Potpourri of Vestiges.
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