‘Talaash’ is an incredibly rousing tale of deceit, betrayal and revenge, set against the backdrop of an unforgiving city.
It’s a story that forces us to look beyond the obvious, and explore the unknown.
The narrative is slow, and intended, brilliantly capturing the essence of what truly lies beneath.
We surrender to director Reema Kagti’s, and writer-director Zoya Akhtar’s, exquisite story, allowing them to influence our sensibilities, unquestioningly.
As the curtains go up and credits roll, we are introduced to a mesmeric Mumbai that awakens to a whole new world at night through Mohanan’s mesmeric frames and Ram Sampat’s foot-tapping beats.
Just minutes on, a famous actor is found speeding to his death, as three unsuspecting witnesses watch the events unravel in front of their eyes.
A police investigation is summoned, and earnest cop Surjan Singh Sekhawat is appointed to handle it.
He examines the witnesses whose frank observations don’t quite explain the tragic end.
It leads to an excruciatingly, daunting journey that forces him to push his boundaries, and accept the incomprehensible.
Reema’s incredible genius lies in her ability to involve the audience without unveiling too much until the very end.
And, it’s those few moments of revelation that’s the most riveting.
Aamir turns Surjan into a credible cop, minus the Bollywood clichés that surround every uniformed hero these days. He gives Surjan immense depth and authority, controlling our emotions and moulding our beliefs with finesse.
From taking down street rogues without any remorse, to stepping out to save the life of a streetwalker, to being sensitive to his wife’s inability to move on, to trusting another woman of questionable reputation, there are numerous layers to Surjan’s personality.
While you’d question some of his decisions, you’d never doubt his integrity.
Despite investing his every wakeful hour in solving the murder mystery, it’s the burden of losing his young son that constantly harasses him. An unfortunate event, which he believes he had caused due to his negligence.
Although he checks in his wife for medical assistance, Surjan refuses to accept he is suffering himself and spends every night reliving the horrors of that fateful day.
His wife, played by a make-up-less, light-eyed Rani Mukerji, appears more eager to nurse her aching heart and find ways to deal with her grief.
She’s exceptional as the wounded woman who is unable to solve her failing marriage, and prefers to ignore the bad and focus on the positive. Despite being projected as the weaker parent, she shows great strength and resilience.
Kareena Kapoor pouts and charms as the third crucial character Rosy, as she controls Surjan’s psyche immeasurably. Although she has dolled up to step into the murky red-light zone in her earlier movie ‘Chameli’, this act is far more convincing and daunting.
Among the supporting cast, Nawazuddin Siddiqui is exemplary as the limping Tehnur, who hopes to benefit from the murky dealings to win his freedom, and Shernaz Patel plays the intrusive, quirky neighbour with aplomb.
Reema and Zoya have worked out the most enthralling suspense drama without succumbing to any Bollywood cliché. Even Ram Sampath’s striking musical compositions are played to accentuate the narrative and not puncture it.
It’s by far the most honest movie in a long time.