A man and woman meet in lovely Corsica, she frantic after having lost her purse, passport etc. He helps, order is restored. He introduces himself as Don, she calls herself Mona Darling and they spend a week together, assuming they will never see each other again. After a week she flies away, bereft. Years pass, and she sees him again. Only he isn’t the man she met in Corsica.
Imtiaz Ali’s new tale of romance starts off a little weakly. The Corsican setup is a tad cliched and I couldn’t get the “we’ll never see each other” assumption, what with Facebook, Skype, phones and the connected world in general. I’ll go with it however. The two, Don and Mona, are a little ditzy (we’ll chalk that up to vacationing in Corsica) and have fun together. Of course, the real tale starts off when several years later, still-lovesick Mona sees Don in India. This second meeting triggers some unprecedented soul-searching, and takes the film down an unpredictable path.
I can’t quite call Tamasha a romance; rather it is a coming-of-age film (although the protagonist is an adult) or a “finding yourself” film. The romance between Ved/Don (Kapoor) and Tara/Mona Darling (Padukone), although fun to watch, is more of a catalyst for his character development, rather than the plot for the film. The use of flashbacks nicely ties together various strands of Ved’s life, heightening the crescendo which comes with Tara’s advent into his life. Tara is a bit of a closed book, but then the film isn’t about her.
Director Ali’s films are never straightforward romances; he always takes the scenic, complicated route. Thus Tamasha has depth; you know that someone has thought about this stuff before presenting it to us. In Ali’s deft hands, life encompasses such tragedy, such emotional upheaval! There are some truly heartbreaking moments here, like the one where Tara pours out her heart to a very quiet Ved, realizing suddenly the implications of his silence. It is never easy to see people in anguish, but in Tamasha these poignant moments feel real and troubling, due to the wonderful direction and the equally immaculate acting.
Ali is the master of the milieu. His locales and his people feel so real! Ved’s family seems typical – a typical business class family – strict dad, housewifely mom, warm grandmother. Shimla feels like a smallish, hill station, winding roads with people at every junction – quite the spot for an imaginative little boy to grow up in. Ali also gives us some wry commentary on social mores, like the time when Ved and Tara, still Don and Mona to each other, talk about following societal norms where he is the aggressor trying to get her into bed, and she the shy, “good girl”, because “izzat/lajja hi aurat ka gehna hai”.
Kapoor and Padukone pour themselves into their roles. Deepika seems a little hesitant in the Corsica scenes but really comes into her own later. Ranbir is magnificent here, a flippant charmer as Don, and quite the restrained, nice guy as Ved. A.R. Rehmans’ music is quite spot-on; my favorite is the energetic “Heer to badi sad hai”.
I quite liked Tamasha, although not as much as Rockstar. While Rockstar is a passionate, true-blue love tale, Tamasha is a lot more heartfelt, and not as much a love-story, although its got a strong love theme.
Kidwise: Tamasha is pretty kid-safe, although it has a few bleeped-out words, and some kissing.