**Review contains spoilers**
After queueing for tickets unsuccessfully a few times, today I was finally able to enter the cinema hall to watch Talaash, a film that had remained mysterious through its filming and even during its promotion for me and which I was patiently waiting to unveil.
Let's cut to the chase: The film starts with a fine cinematic glossing over Bombay’s underworld, sung masterfully by Suman Sridhar in what I believe is the most original song in the soundtrack. The poor, the gamblers, the prostitutes, the forgotten are all shown through a skillful lens… Once the tone has been set, a car falls into the sea in an accident that will become the object of investigation for inspector Surjan Singh Shekhawat (Aamir Khan). A few scenes later, the audience realizes that the inspector has lost his young son in an underwater accident too. This has affected his relationship with his beautiful wife (Rani Mukherjee). The plot is set to deliver a profound psychological suspense drama. The audience’s curiosity is piqued as to how the main character will be freed from his grief through the findings he will make in his crime investigation.
When all seemed to be going well, despite a few easily forgettable inconsistencies, I felt sidetracked when the film turned towards spiritism and mediums to pepper an otherwise engaging storyline. So much, I believe, could have been achieved by sticking to the film’s fundamental and earthbound premise, such a touching story is that of a parent's grief over the loss of a little one, that I was left wondering why a medium would be incorporated into the plot. "Oh well, maybe the medium has something to do with the car accident," I thought..
I was wrong. Talaash actually uses its supernatural premise to finally liberate the main character from the anger and grief linked to the terrible loss of his beloved son. As I heard part of the audience start laughing in disbelief while watching the final scenes where all is revealed, I could not help but wonder why such a taut mystery needed to be solved through supernatural means. Why not? But yet why indeed? Additionally, the director or writer spells things out even more for the viewer in a final excavation scene, as if we had not understood who the ghost is and what his/her purpose is. This scene, in my view, should have been edited out to make the film’s statement more thought provoking or to make the surprise effect linger a bit in the audience.
After coming out of the cinema hall, I have been inevitably comparing Talaash to other Hollywood or world cinema psychological suspense dramas and I am saddened to be left with the feeling that Talaash, as a script, was not up to a mark it could have very easily reached.
Watch Talaash for its extremely fine acting, mainly by the two female protagonists and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who I was very eager to watch in a meaty role. He completely nails his character and will keep audiences glued to the screen. Aamir Khan is as always, a pleasure to watch, though I have to say that this is one of the roles where I was most unable to see the scope of his talent and sadly so. He reminded me of French 70s suspense heroes, who were the epitome of elegance by maintaining a similar expression throughout the entire film as to convey their strength and maleness. He does an excellent job in his very last scene and in the instances in which he is ridden with guilt throughout the film, but I would have liked to see and feel more from him and have unfortunately been left unsatisfied in that sense. A huge thumbs up to him however for appearing in romantic scenes with a heroine who is of his own generation (this blogger has been rooting for that to happen for most 40-something heroes). The couple looks beautiful and highly convincing together.
I am certain that viewers looking for a supernatural thriller will be much more enticed by the film than those simply expecting a good mystery with a heavy psychological component. Be warned but most of all... watch it and enjoy the search.