Talaash: A futile search

MUMBAI: ‘I will come back to haunt you‘ must be the oldest phrase used in a relationship. It bears no logic but makes one wary. It is a supernatural shrap (curse). A lot of rumours have been spread about the ‘the end‘ of Talaash during its pre-release publicity; all suspected to be the makers‘ own PR gimmicks. But no gimmick is worth a cinema ticket costing 300 rupees. If gimmicks made money, why make films?

Producers: Ritesh Sidhwani, Aamir Khan, Farhan Akhtar.
Director: Reema Kagti.
Cast: Aamir Khan, Rani Mukerji, Kareena Kapoor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Raj Kumar Yadav, Shernaz Patel, Suhasi Goradia Dhami, Subrat Dutta, Vivek Madan.

There is a lot of speculation about which foreign film has inspired Talaash. From the look of it, Talaash seems to have got its genes from the Hollywood film ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer‘, itself badly panned by media there but lapped up by moviegoers.

Three young men go on a joyride, meet with an accident and dump the victim, who they presume is dead. Then the victim comes back to seek revenge! Whichever way you look at Talaash and whatever the efforts to ‘Indianise‘ it with supernatural and life-after-death angles, the ghost of ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer‘ haunts the film all through. Rest is all an exercise in convolution. The usual ‘inspirational‘ Hollywood films run for 100 minutes or less; so Talaash has a parallel story of Aamir Khan, and his spouse Rani Mukerji eternally pining for their son who died due to drowning. This helps stretch the film to 140 minutes. It is also the film‘s undoing.

Like any metro-oriented film, Talaash establishes its base city, Mumbai, in its title song. This is mainly the seedy side, the underbelly of the city, which includes the whores, the pimps, the nightlife and the violence. Then it goes on to establish its protagonists. This affirms that it is going to be a long-winded film.

Three years after the joyride accident, a top film star dies in a freaky car accident on the same spot when his car swerves suddenly on an open road late one night and lands in the sea. Khan is a reputed encounter specialist but he is called in to investigate the accident since it involves a high-profile star. There are no evident clues and he is told that this is not the first time such an accident has happened at this spot. When not investigating the case, Khan, in tandem with his wife, Mukerji get into bouts of depression and brooding over their dead son. Khan thinks it was his fault but keeps punishing Mukerji by keeping away from her or avoiding communicating. He does not even want another child. Mukerji on her part is under psychiatric treatment until a neighbour, Shernaz Patel, acquaints her with a message from her dead son. "He wants to talk to his dada," she says.

Being a mother, Mukerji tags along to communicate with her son through Patel. This leads to another flashpoint between the couple, Khan and Mukerji. Khan would rather have nothing to do with such mumbo jumbo.

In the process of his investigations, Khan meets a prostitute, Kareena Kapoor, whose pimp was the last person to communicate with the dead film star. The pimp, who is suspected of blackmailing the star and who collected rupees 20 lakh from him just before the accident, is missing. Khan expects Kapoor to lead to him. Instead, she is only interested in leading him to a seedy hotel room with an invitation to make out!

As some more bodies fall and some more red herrings are dropped, the film meanders on and on till it springs what the makers think is a surprise element. The mystery is solved the way it was created.

Talaash is such a dry and insipid film that it becomes a drain on the viewer. It lags in almost all aspects. As the script is weak, the director never gets a grip on the film. Music is no help in the absence of romance. Farhan Akhtar‘s dialogue is generally mundane. His forte being wit, the film offers him no scope. Preferring to project the dark side of the metro, visually too the film provides no relief except, ironically, the accident site. The seafront location is pleasing to eye. And why choose red light area whores? Kapoor could very well have been a high class one and the film could have had some glamour and finesse! Khan has no historic moments and does nothing to satisfy his fans. Kapoor looks too glamorous for the kind of joint she works at. Mukerji, as a totally deglamourised housewife, does well. Among others, Nawazuddin Siddiqui shines. Patel, Raj Kumar Yadav, Suhasi Goradia and Subra Dutta lend fair support.

Talaash is disappointing fare, for Khan fans as well as for box office prospects.

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