"TALAASH" grips you by the throat, and will not let you go! A very Dark Tale! (WBRi Movie Review)

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Aamir Khan's new film is "Talaash" (Laash...pun intended of course!), and I feel I need to introduce this particular film in my blog review by pointing out that there is really no definition of "Talaash" or "Dark Fantasy" - I mean the kind of genre this film belongs to...

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, dark fantasy is always in the mind of the viewer, which I expect that you'll agree!!!

I mean that literally...You must be knowing that Neuroscience can now identify the particular parts of the brain which gets affected by watching movies... According to some hot-shot Research Head, films with a very dark theme can alter the state of the brain...often having a calming effect, which brings back the viewer to the film repeatedly.

However, dark fantasy in general, can evoke a wide range of responses and those may differ by degree. It can be slightly unsettling, a bit eerie, profoundly disturbing, or just generally convey a certain atmosphere.  

Since darkness itself can be many things - shadowy and mysterious, deep and unknowable, paradoxically illuminating even, it can be used in films in innumerable ways to create a movie which is hard to forget!

"Talaash" is one of them.

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Aamir Khan (Surjan Sekhawat) is a hard-boiled police inspector who goes on to investigate a queer accident case where in the middle of the night a car suddenly goes out of control and goes overboard around the Bombay Sea Face area to dive into the dark blue Arabian Sea...shattering the stillness of the somnolence, and there are only four witnesses... all street dwellers and hawkers; and even a stray but smart dog!

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The next morning when the car is fished our of the water and the body which is found strapped to the seat happens to be that of a celebrity; a prominent film star Armaan, this becomes a high-priority/ high-profile case for the Mumbai Police! The story begins here and goes rip-roaring at a thunderous pace at least till the interval and then some; in total for one hundred and forty minutes to be exact which takes us through the underbelly and old houses/ localities of BOMBAY (Mumbai!), seedy brothels, shady hotels and walkways...Pimps, street walking prostitutes, and cunning criminals share the script space and the frame (courtesy Cameraman - Mohanan, who has done a great job!) where this particular cop exudes a very different attitude towards life; he  cannot relate to his wife "Roshni" (wonderfully played by Rani Mukherjee), cannot sleep at night and roams around the wrong places in a city of dark desires, and is also very much angry with himself only because he and his wife, both have lost their only 8 year old son in a freak 'drowning accident' some time ago! They simply cannot cope up with the blazing agony and vacuum that their son has left behind!

However, this Cop, with a failing marriage and a disrupted mind-set cannot even touch a single thread of success in the ongoing accident case of the drowned car! The clues simply comes to a dead-end...as if nothing has happened, as if every motive, every single whiff has been blown away in a spooky chilling wind off to la-la land! His subordinates asks him to drop the case as it has no future, his seniors pressurize him to give in and 'call it a day' - but this Suri (as he is called) Sekhawat will not let go!!! He goes digging down deeper and comes in  contact with a street walker prostitute Rosy (Kareena Kapoor in probably one of her best portrayal in recent times) who feeds him with a lot of information which helps Suri to make some headway in the case... and what he finds...... is very unsettling!!!

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At this point I'd prefer not to divulge anything more about the plot at least, otherwise it will be unfair to the script writer/director and the entire cast and crew of the film and it will also ruin the exquisite thrill of watching this film altogether... however I can tell you this much, that watch out for Nawaazuddin Siddique (Faisal Khan of "Gangs of Wasseypur 1 & 2") as "Taimur", here in this film he is a sort of a urchin, a parasitic pimp of the red light area who walks with a limp and of then course Subrata Dutta (of Subrata Sen's "Swapner Feriwala in Bengali), as the local goonda! But to cut it short, I should say that Nawazuddin has simply stolen the show in all the scenes that he's there...he is in fact the second male lead here in this film and in quite a few instances I even simply forgot all about Aamir's existence; so powerful and convincing is Nawaz's Performance!!!Nawaaz is surely and steadily going forward and surprising all of us with his mind-boggling performance in one film after another..."Manorama six feet under", "Firaaq", "Gangs of Wasseypur", "Kahaani", and now - this "Talaash" (I'm awaiting to see his "Patang")!

Apart from the lead actors - Rajkumar Yadav, a new face on the block, as the assistant police inspector to Aamir "Surjan" Khan delivers his character to the 'tee'! None other than Anurag Kashyap has written the addition dialogues and Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani have backed the entire production.

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By the by, Ram Sampath's music and Background Score in this film is perhaps the best I've heard in 2012, and this is not an exaggeration, especially the song "Muskaanein jhoothi hai" - a raunchy 50's style Jazz Composition, with Double Bass, Ride Cymbal and Muted Trumpet for comfort, this song is sung by a new singer Suman Sridhar, amd yes..she has done her bit perfectly! Ram Sampath is perhaps the most under-rated music director of Bollywood, but he shouldn't be...I think he is the dark horse of the industry... brilliant mind is at work in the cranium of Mr. Sampath; his ability to cook up something new and perfect for a situation, actually derived or rather inspired from a thousand Movies of the Dark Genre made in English; in America or the British Soil! The very texture of the music somewhere starts trickling the juice of a feeling that is unsettling from the very first ding of the music - and there you go! Snatched up by the hook that "Talaash" so easily conceals beneath it's silken demeanor!

Since the release of this film last 30th Nov, Friday, many critics have coined it as a loser and a film which is 'not-up-to-the-mark' a'la "Dhobi Ghat" or "Peepli Live", both Aamir Khan Productions....what the hell!!! Why compare Chalk with Cheese? Are they out of their minds???

This movie has the chill which I experienced watching David Fincher's "Seven", or Robert Zemeckis's "What Lies Beneath", or even the 1993 film, George. C. Scott's "Legion", Mary Harron's "American Psycho" or even Sam Peckinpah's 1971 classic "Straw Dogs" starring Dustin Hoffman! Actually very few film critics has even tried out watching meaningful, matured pure Films from the West, such as the ones above, the factor being their taste; which they consider to be classy, but is not and another this is most of them haven't started watching films in their half-pants as I have, watching every single meaningful Hollywood and European flick that used to release in good old Calcutta in the early seventies, in the cinemas of my dreams like New Empire, Lighthouse, Tiger, Globe, Minerva, Talkie Show House or even Jamuna in the eighties! This may sound a little braggish, but truth witll always remain THE TRUTH, no matter what!!!

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Keeping aside all controversies and discussions by 'light' film -makers like Vikram Bhatt and Abas Mustans, I will come to the finale, and that is the reason in the very beginning I told you all that "Beauty is in the eyes of the Beholder"....and I found "Talaash", directed by Honeymoon Travels director Reema Kagti (Script by Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar) as one of the most thought provoking films in recent times...entertaining and made beautifully!

- Nilanjann Nandy (nilanjan.nandy@gmail.com)