Direction: Reema Kagti
Actors: Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Rani Mukherji
To watch Talaash is to embark on a passionate love affair that ends in frustration because the object of your desire reveals itself to be shallow and depressingly ordinary. In short, a profound anti-climax.
If I sound like a woman cheated, it's only because I was so invested in Reema Kagti's suspense drama. The film has one of the most terrific first hours I've seen this year. It's taut, twisty and absolutely thrilling. Reema creates a wonderfully textured and atmospheric portrait of Mumbai, where neon lights and garish make-up just barely disguise the hollowness within. And the story, co-written by Reema and Zoya Akhtar had me hooked from the first frame.
A famous actor drives his expensive car into the Arabian Sea. Inspector Shekhawat is called in to investigate. The tough-talking cop, played by Aamir Khan, is actually a walking wound. His son died in a tragic accident and Shekhawat blames himself for it. He is haunted by his actions - the things he did and, more painfully, the things he didn't do. His wife, Roshni, played by Rani Mukherji, finds solace in secret conversations with her dead son through a medium.
Shekhawat immerses himself in the case of the drowned actor. But just when it seems like they've reached a dead end, a tantalisingly seductive prostitute named Rosie, played by Kareena Kapoor, provides a clue. She continues to help and their relationship becomes more entangled. At one point, Rosie looks at the cop and says: 'Pyaar ho gaya kya mujhse, saheb?'
Talaash had me in a vice-like grip till the interval. And then, the curse of the second-half struck like lightning. The explanation of the deliciously intriguing mystery was so lame that I refused to believe it. I hoped that Reema and Zoya would spring one final twist on us and redeem the film. But sadly, that never happened.
Still, there are so many things to admire in Talaash. Reema and Zoya have written layered characters and all three lead actors are first-rate. Aamir, Rani and Kareena work beautifully off each other. Each one creates such a palpable sense of ache and damage.
The dialogue by Farhan Akhtar, with additional work by Anurag Kashyap, is perfectly pitched. Ram Sampath's mournful music underlines the melancholy. And the strange fascination that the cop develops for the prostitute is mesmerising.
I enjoyed these characters so much that I demand another film for Shekhawat, Roshni and Rosie. This one didn't serve them well enough.
For once, I also feel the need to explain my rating: I wanted to give four stars to the first half and two stars to the second half, so it averages out to three. See Talaash and do post comments. I'm curious to see how many were as furious as me.