Tamasha (2015) #SherylPuthur


Directed By: Imtiaz Ali

Written By: Imtiaz Ali


Ranbir Kapoor – Ved Vardhan Sahni

Deepika Padukone – Tara Maheshwari

Javed Sheikh – Ved’s father

Vivek Mushran – Ved’s Boss

Language: Hindi                                                            Genre: Romance; Drama

Tamasha (Spectacle) refers to the local folk performances of popular oral narratives either from the epics, religious texts or popular ballads. This is a tradition by no means unique to India as every country possesses a tradition of local theatrical performances. These performances work on the fore knowledge of the audience and frequently include artistic deviations.

Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha has these local performances strewn through the film (both Indian and foreign, such as in Corsica there is a local procession). Performance and spectacle is central to the film, interestingly, even in human relationships. What is appropriate behaviour and how should you project yourself in a socially accepted manner.

The film follows Ved (Ranbir Kapoor) who grows up with an understanding that there are two lives to live – one the socially accepted life and the secret pulsating life of dreams. As a child Ved, visits the local storyteller to be transported into a world of fantasy.

So when he meets Tara (Deepika Padukone) for the first time at Corsica, he tries to live his ‘once upon a time’ moment – an escapist fantasy, by projecting his imagined idea of himself. So they decide not to tell each other the truth of their identity, he introduces himself as Don and she is Mona Darling. They spend a few days in Corsica and decide never to meet again. Tara however, cannot get over him and eventually searches him out. But now he turns out to be the anti-thesis of everything Don was. She rejects him and everything spirals out of control.

Like Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar, this too is a ‘finding yourself’ narrative and as in both the focus is on the male character. The female character is exuberant and holds a commanding presence on the screen but ultimately is just the muse or the catalyst that sends them on a journey which has destructive consequences but is eventually creative in expression.

The storytelling is riveting and replete with popular culture references. Such as Catch-22 – this is significant, because a catch-22 situation is what underlies Ved’s dilemma.

The performances are compelling much like the narrative with both actors giving mature performances. A special mention – Ranbir Kapoor presents with frightening intensity the cracking up of an invisible character (in fact, a very Fightclub moment does exist in the film). If he in the future chose the role of a psychopath/sociopath – it would be chilling. However, in comparison to earlier films, there is a drop in the exuberant energy that had become almost synonymous with his performance. Deepika on the other hand, has scaled heights as an actor. Coming so close on the heels of Piku, her performance has a riveting fluidity to it.

Certain sequences in the film were too contrived. The segment in Corsica for instance, was at its worst – unfunny, and the scene between Ved and his father (Javed Sheikh) – unbelievable. The song Agar Tum Saath Ho was moving, with Deepika’s performance leaving you with a tightening sensation in your chest. Strangely though, others in that space do not react to their rather vocal argument which wasn’t very logical but I would like to assume Ali crafted the scene to emphasise the alienation in society.

While absorbing, the storytelling does lose out in the editing, making the screenplay haphazard. Something I found even in Rockstar which makes the story a little scattered.

Do stay to watch the credits to the end because Imtiaz Ali gives a beautiful tribute to the various performers by having the cast list begin with the names of the dancers, musicians etc who are so central to the narrative. To me, that was outstanding.


One thought on “Tamasha (2015) #SherylPuthur

  1. Spoiler Alert

    Tamasha is a folk storytelling theatre, a popular form nearly everywhere, but the word itself is Marathi, which means not spectacle, but simply entertainment. The storytelling may take the form of monologues or dialogues involving several characters, at times involving the audience too, and also included often boisterous singing, music and dances.
    Tara came to Corsica looking for a story that she had known through Asterix comics. For Ved, it was a place to tell stories, whatever came into his mind, incognito, and not to anyone in particular, but we infer that only much later, rather subtly. Tara is hooked by the raw power of stories, in spite of knowing it was all lies, or simply fantasies. She therefore falls in love with the storyteller, without knowing who he was in real life, and remains in love to the very end. When she meets the real Ved, the one leading an ordinary predictably routine life, conforming to the world’s standards, she wasn’t prepared to accept that as real.
    The director rubs in the routine aspect of Ved’s life a bit too much. But then few people in real life realise that they are leading a routine mechanical life, without such rub-ins. Obviously, Ved too falls in love with Tara at Corsica. That actually forces him to free himself from having to conform to the world’s standards. That part is brilliantly portrayed by Ranbir, with little involvement of anybody else, as it usually happens to anyone going through such transformations, within the dark recesses of the mind. Occasionally, there are some outwardly manifestations that only appear as erratic behaviour rather than as transformational struggles.
    Eventually, Ved must tell his story, even to break out of his routine life, and get his principal standard-setter, his father, to back off. The father too is hooked to the story, and so lets the storyteller be. So the storyteller emerges and returns to Tara. She was right all along and knew the inevitable would surely happen. Her subdued acceptance of the final event, bit ecstatic, but not overly, was brilliantly played by Deepika.

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