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Talaash review: a great endeavour at experimental cinema
Promos of Talaash have proved to be most effective in guarding the movie's secret (quite a feat even with the onslaught of social networking sites and media high-handedness). The promos were well-edited (and credits to the editor) that threw everyone off the track. Aamir Khan even went on to Facebook urging his fans not to 'leak' the 'suspense' after they have been privy to it.

FOR A movie from the Aamir Khan stable, to be so restrained in publicity is a surprise in itself. But the real astonishment (or disillusion) lies in the stark difference between the premonition invoked by the official trailer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il-_s2O3Qt8) and how the movie eventually turns out to be. There are murmurs too in multiplex corridors that the second half of the movie has been disappointing. So how good (or bad) the movie actually is? Worth watching?

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To cut to the chase, let me start by asking you three questions. Do you believe in supernatural things? Do you approve of planchets for speaking to the spirits (it being possible, that is) and are you an Aamir Khan fan?

If your answers are mostly in affirmative then you will love the latest Aamir Khan starrer ‘Talaash’. But it would be untrue to say allegorically that Reema Kagti’s second venture would be unpalatable if your responses were in negative.  

Talaash sets off with a very intriguing and ‘singular’ accident of Vivan Bhatena played film star ‘Armaan Kapoor’. More revelations soon take this ‘accident’ to the ‘suicide’ or even the ‘murder’ angle. Alluring shots of glitzy Mumbai by the night in the backdrop and the film’s neo noir approach also help in captivating the viewer’s interest quite early in the movie.

The dark underbelly of Mumbai’s underworld is also fleetingly yet aptly captured, depicting its sway over people from all walks of life including ‘high flying’ film stars and ‘jonah’ sex workers. Even as Aamir (in the role of the protagonist inspector Surjan Singh Shekhawat) pursues this mysterious case that is assayed by one too many of his team to be an ‘A Final’ one, he is also seen battling the nagging guilt of his son’s accidental death in the past.

The pain that it causes to him and his wife Roshni (a gutsy performance by Rani Mukherjee) leads to a disengagement in their erstwhile loving relationship which is now limited to carrying out responsibilities. The shaping of their muted interactions and the melodrama is touching. A few tears are guaranteed especially when Aamir, in his insomniac thoughts, tries to rephrase the past many times over.

But even before you are emotionally tangled in such realistic rendering, two events happen that alter the course of the film (blurs its genre!) and probably the film’s prospects. One, Shernaz Patel played ‘Frenny’ enters the life of the Shekhawat couple, promising a séance with their dead son. Two, Rosy, a sex worker, enacted with poise and grace by Kareena Kapoor (Khan), meets inspector Shekhawat and concedes decisive clues for the investigation.

Now, Talash is a movie that hinges on the mystery, and if that be unraveled, sucks out all interest. So, to save your curiosity (ones who have not seen it yet) I would stop reviewing the storyline any further.

Nevertheless, erstwhile insinuations about the movie’s deserting substance are personal (perspectives on ideas stimulated by the movie). The photography is immaculate and so are the performances. Not a single character ‘overacts’ while Nawazuddin Siddiqui evokes respect in the role of Taimur (a prudent choice of a name for a limping, cagey man) whose serendipity meets a tearful end. Aamir is (and remains for the entire course of the film) a straight-faced middle-aged cop, balancing personal troubles with professional distress. At no point in time does he shed this for a super hero persona and comes out a winner.

And no one dances; there are no item numbers, not even by Kareena in the shoes of the seductress Rosy. Ram Sampath and Vishal Dadlani do decent background scores with Gulzar’s ethereal lyrics.

‘Talash’ is an excellent experiment in neo-noir cinema with fuzzy demarcation in psychological and sci-fi. Although the surreal ending would have been even more heart thumping if the narrative (or screenplay) had been non-linear (like Ghajini not Memento). But by the time Elvis leaves the building, you are left with a feeling. A feeling quite unlike joy even if you love the film.

Talash is doing brisk business (it dragged me to a movie theater after weeks!) at the box office and has crossed the Rs 50 crores mark till Monday.

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