Talaash opens with a haunting musical track, Muskanein Jhoothi Hain, filmed in Bombay’s red light district. Arresting visuals of Mumbai by night, lend themselves beautifully to the mysterious air that pervades the night. As you take it all in with the title credits rolling on to the screen, wondering what Aamir Khan’s Talaash in the film will be, the languid pace is broken by a speeding car, that loses control and heads straight into the sea after hitting the promenade in the dead of the night.
Enter Inspector Surjan S Shekhawat, played by Aamir Khan at the scene of the accident the following morning. It comes to light that a film star, Armaan Kapoor (Vivaan Bhatena) was driving the car and drowned in the process as he was trapped in the car, underwater. The case is an extremely high profile one, given that a celebrity is involved and the media interest is high. The scene where Surjan admonishes his team for giving out information to the press is very entertaining and hilarious — one of the best scenes, out of many in the film.
Surjan is an earnest man working in the police force, married to Roshni (Rani Mukerji) for the past 12 years. They are a broken couple due to a personal tragedy that Surjan blames himself for and punishes himself by pulling all-nighters at work, even when he is not required to do so. Of course he does not realize it, but he needs the psychiatrist he sends Roshni to, more than she does.
In his night-rounds of the city, he meets Rosy (Kareena Kapoor), a hooker, and a smug one at that, who he turns to time and again to help him in the case.
Talaash’s story and plot is such that to describe any scene would be to give away the suspense. The story is real, enacted by extremely able actors, who make the movie thrilling, in just the right measure. Every turn surprises you, shocks you even, and has you completely involved in the story playing out on screen.
It’s not predictable in the least, and that’s where Talaash scores high! In Bollywood, to make a film that has the audience on the edge of their seats is a huge achievement. And that’s what Talaash does. It gets you in, as soon as the first reel rolls, and holds you right till the very end.
Rani Mukerji slips into the role of the anguished housewife with ease, as only an actress with her repertoire of films can. Kareena Kapoor plays the role of the hooker in her inimitably glamourous style, where she balances the flighty edges with a serious performance.
Aamir Khan adds another memorable character to his long list of celluloid avatars with an incredible performance as Inspector Surjan. In Talaash, Aamir’s physical persona, especially his eyes, enable his performance far more than the sharply written dialogue. The scene where he breaks down and cries is heartbreakingly real, and my favourite scene in the film. Just that one scene is telling of Aamir’s unprecedented and prodigious talent as an actor.
Having said that, I also wonder if Aamir is playing Surjan or is Surjan playing Aamir in the film? Aamir is such a meticulous personality on and off screen, and has risen to such heights in terms of expectations from the audience over the years, that it is hard to tell when he is what.
All the characters in the film are well-etched and work in tandem with the story, the credit of which goes to the writers – Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti, who is the director of the film. Every actor performs ably, length of the role notwithstanding. Talaash’s thrills give you the chills, most of it with the evolving plot line and the dialogues, written by Farhan Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap that add to the drama as well as make light of it with lines like “Dukaan khuli nahi aur curfew lag gaya”.
The realness of the story has not been compromised at all and the believability factor stays high throughout. Even some parts that need explanations are not handed out like sermons or with reams of unnecessary dialogue – they are dealt with, in the narrative with action, flash cuts and voiceovers that are worked seamlessly into the storyline.
Ram Sampath’s music is wonderful, even though the background score sounds a tad like the Taj Group of Hotels’ signature music. The other thing that could have been completely avoided in the film is the railway station scene picturised on one of the key characters in the film, which sees him “do a Mazhar Khan”. It is very reminiscent of the classic Mazhar Khan scene in Ramesh Sippy’s Shaan (1980) in which he, as a cripple, paddles his way through the city on a flat board with wheels. This “borrowed sequence” just takes away from the film’s own pace and contemporary style. Other than that, Talaash is a markedly exciting film, possibly one of 2012’s best.
Reema Kagti’s search for a loyal audience for her kind of cinema ends with Talaash, which seems poised to make some serious cash at the box office as a sure fire winner. Her debut film, Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd (2007) established her as someone to watch out for, and now, Talaash confirms the expectations weren’t off the mark in the least.