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Review: ‘Tamasha’ is a juvenile drama

Tamasha

GN Rating
  • Language:  

  • Run Time:  

    165 mins
  • Director:  

    Imtiaz Ali
  • Rating:  

    PG 13
  • Cast:  

    Deepika Padukkone and Ranbir Kapoor
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Bollywood drama Tamasha, starring Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, reminded me of an episode in the hit TV series Friends, in which Monica (Courteney Cox) befriends her vivacious credit card thief, who tells her that Robin Williams’ celebrated film Dead Poets Society changed her life.

The charming robber then claims that it was an “incredibly boring” film — going against popular opinion. Why would that kid (Robert Sean Leonard), who wanted to be in a play, but lacked the will to defy his tough father who pushed him to study medicine, kill himself, she asks. “Kid, just wait a year, leave home and do some community theatre.”

In one swipe, she trivialised and brutally summed up the conflict in Williams’ film, which saw a student commit suicide after his personal freedom was suspended by his strict dad. She would have sized up the conflict in Tamasha in a similar manner.

The struggle of Ved (Kapoor), controlled by a pragmatic, authoritarian father (Javed Shaikh) who forces him to study maths and engineering, forms the crux of Tamasha. Ved is creatively astute and loves to hear stories, but his dad is intent on pushing him towards a conventional job that will pay his monthly bills.

So Ved relents, gives up his dream of becoming a theatre personality and becomes a product manager (the job is as boring as it sounds). He’s miserable in his life, but it takes a beautiful woman, Tara (Deepika Padukone), to spell that out to him. It’s a different matter that Tara knew him for less than a week, but she seems to have figured him out in a snap.

Their courtship begins during a vacation in Corsica, France. Both flirt with each other relentlessly, by uttering dialogues from Hindi classics. Then they make a pact to love grandly, but not to reveal their names or background details. As far as stupid plans go, this one trumps Ved’s lack of will to stand up to his strict dad.

Ved and Tara’s verbal foreplay in Corsica is juvenile at times. Fortunately, the real-life former lovers look amazing on the big screen and their physical perfection prods us to engage with them. However, their affair is swift and ends rather abruptly.

Tara leaves Corsica, only to realise that she’s in love with Ved. They meet again in Delhi and that’s where the problems begin. Tara is unable to relate to the guy who works for a living. She claims she yearns for that free-spirited guy she had met on her French holiday. At one point, she wonders aloud: “where is that beast cheetah who drank from the river after running wild in Corsica?”

She gets her answer after she dumps him. The animal in Ved is unleashed upon rejection by his girlfriend. In the next one hour, the audiences are treated to Kapoor at his neurotic worst. A perfect candidate for anger management classes, Ved lashes out at his girlfriend, his boss, his family, the auto driver …

Kapoor does a decent job of bringing out the anguish in Ved, but it’s Padukone who’s riveting. Her character isn’t fully fleshed out, but her performance as Tara is gripping. There’s a vulnerability about her that makes us root for her. We wish director Imtiaz Ali had invested more time in culling out scenes that showed them as a troubled couple working out their issues, instead of diverting his attention to showing Ved’s penchant for mythological stories or how mechanical his life in the corporate rat-race is.

Tamasha may have its heart in the right place, but the conflict in Ved and Tara’s lives will not get your pulse racing. The lead actors and Corsica look picture-perfect, but the movie isn’t free of blemishes.