Reviewing the Reviews: Talaash

03 Dec,2012


Key Cast: Aamir Khan, Rani Mukherji, Kareena Kapoor

Written By: Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti

Directed By: Reema Kagti

Produced By: Ritesh Sidhwani, Aamir Khan and Farhan Akhtar


Some clever myth building and some delivery of promise has ensured that Aamir Khan is now a larger than life star who can never go wrong. That he agreed to star in and co-produce a film by Reema Kagti, relative newcomer was enough to build expectations sky high.


Getting an average of three-star ratings, and as many raves as rants, the unanimous opinion was that the film built atmosphere well, but crashed in the second half. Almost everybody found the ending a cop-out. More disturbing, however, was the filmmaker’s, and by association Aamir Khan’s endorsement of what rationalists would call mumbo-jumbo.


Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express wrote, “In its better bits, Talaash lets us ignore its studiedness–the squalor of the red light area, the determined low-life lingo, the hard-worked cop-station back chat, the high-class homes of the rich and famous– and gives us a Hindi movie genuinely trying for a whodunit-cum-whydunnit. Talaash starts out as a smart, well-written noir-ish thriller, and then slips between the tracks. Pity about the second half.”


Anupama Chopra of Hindustan Times felt cheated too. “To watch Talaash is to embark on a passionate love affair that ends in frustration because the object of your desire reveals itself to be shallow and depressingly ordinary. In short, a profound anti-climax.”


Rajeev Masand of IBN Live wrote, “Director Reema Kagti employs a solid technical team to deliver a film that is rich in atmospherics and mood. KU Mohanan’s striking photography and Ram Sampat’s haunting score lend a distinct texture to this film, as do the real Mumbai locations the film is shot on. But Talaash doesn’t feel nearly as tense or urgent as it ought to, and its plot simply isn’t as deliciously complex as it could’ve been. As a result, it’s a very watchable film, but not an unforgettable one.”


Karan Anshuman of Mumbai Mirror liked it but with some reservations. “The ‘suspense’ bits do have their shortcomings. The lack of multiple red herrings, little reward for long stretches and relatively slow pacing (the last two points are especially valid in the first half) might have you squirming. Over-explaining the big twist in the climax seems unnecessary too, especially when this is hardly what the film is about… So it doesn’t matter if you can guess what the end is going to be at interval point (like I did); if you’re going to watch Talaash solely to understand “what’s the suspense about” you’re going to be disappointed. Try and empathize, instead with the characters. Reward then, will look for and find you.”


Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV was mostly appreciative. “By no means is Talaash the end of your search for the perfect whodunit. But there is so much going for this compelling, slow-burning, well-acted tale set in the dark, grimy underbelly of Mumbai that you can barely take your eye off the screen. As a suspense thriller with a paranormal edge, it certainly isn’t action-packed. Yet Talaash, which relies far more on the intricacies of psychological drama than on the disquieting impact of visceral shocks, is riveting all the way through to its surprising, if a tad dissonant, end.”


Meena Iyer of The Times of India commented, “Talaash belongs to the genre of cinema noir of which there are few examples in recent times. This film is a good attempt at revisiting suspense flicks that were a huge craze in the 50-60s. To bring Gen-Now up to speed, back then movies like CID, Mera Saya, Woh Kaun Thi weaved magic on celluloid for patrons back then. But, make no mistake here. Though,Talaash has the mystique of the cinema Raj Khosla; it is modern in its approach and the setting is contemporary.”


Raja Sen of wrote that it was a Vikram Bhatt film better dressed. “It’s a somber, well-assembled film in contrast to the quick and flashy schlock that would have been doled out by the aforementioned merchants of middlebrow masala, and while the film’s craft — and the acting chops shared by its considerable cast — can’t at all be denied, it must also be said that perhaps the trashier approach may have worked better for this material. Or, at the very least, made for more fun.”


Aniruddha Guha of DNA was cautious in his praise. “There are times when you feel Talaash might fall apart, but it thankfully comes together neatly in the last 30 minutes or so. As much as the story hinges on the final revelation – one that’s supposed to jolt you – the journey itself isn’t too bad either. It demands an investment of time and patience, surely, but the pay-off is rewarding. How much you like or dislike the film will largely depend on whether the final twist works for you. It did for me.”


Baradwaj Rangan of the Hindu seemed a bit underwhelmed too, but not dismissive. “The talaash of the title, at first, suggests the search for answers. Why did the car end up in the water? Was it suicide? If not, who was behind the accident? In short, we seem to be in for a nail-biting police procedural based on a “high-profile case.” But gradually, that search takes a backseat to others – a father’s search for peace, a wife’s search for a husband who’s vanished into a void of self-flagellation, and a forgotten victim’s search for closure. Kagti brings this all together with a sure touch that her first film, the fitfully entertaining Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd., never hinted at. Even if the resolution leaves you underwhelmed – and despite the artfully placed pointers to seediness, with ragpickers, porn DVDs displayed proudly in stores, derelicts and druggies, some may feel Talaash is just classily dressed up crap – the film is so beautifully made and so atmospheric that several scenes stick in mind.”


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