Sunday, December 2, 2012

Not-so-serious review on Talaash (2012): Let the griping, Kareena-bashing commence [SPOILERS like WHOA]

Why are people smiling in this promo?!
Nobody smiles in this movie.
If you are looking for my serious, mostly spoiler-free thoughts on Talaash, they are in a guest post at theBollywoodFan’s blog. If you’re more interested in my totally spoilery humorous thoughts and love of Aamir Khan’s mustache, you are in the right place here. Because even though I loved pieces of the movie, the whole so frustrated me that I must take out my anger on it in poking fun at it. Especially one Kareena Kapoor.

But before we get into that, let me say that the theater experience for Talaash was something else. My AMC has started screening two Indian films at a time, but they’re usually relegated to small back theaters. When I went to see JTHJ there on a Saturday night two weeks ago, the theater was packed to capacity and I was sitting in the very first row. The same thing happened for Rowdy Rathore. Imagine my surprise when I walk in early for Talaash and notice it’s playing in one of the theaters right next to the concession stand — you know, the ones usually reserved for films like Twilight or the Avengers that have huge hype driving them.

Imagine my even bigger surprise when I walk in and see this is a big big big theater — as big as the IMAX screen that I watched Skyfall on earlier this week. Yes. Really. The theater wasn’t packed to capacity, but the top half was reasonably full, all things considered (unfortunately this included many babies that drove me crazy).

That being said, it was made clear last night that I have gori disease. The one that drives desis to avoid sitting next to me in a theater at all costs. But I know the cure: wait for the lights to go out, and then — no longer able to tell a gori from a desi — they will sit next to you. And the joke is on them.

So, anyway, the film tagline is “The answer lies within.” Pretty sure the movie actually says the answer lies with drowning (does Reema Kagti have a pathological fear of drowning or what?!) and a streetwalker’s ghost.

Oh, and a streetwalker’s ghost who fails at seduction. The most she can do is lure a totally messed up policeman to a hotel room where she strokes his head looking like she’s going to scratch him. And he falls asleep. Even though he’s an insomniac. Prostitute failure complete.

Perhaps the failure can be attributed to her lack of prostitute-appropriate wardrobe. Floral long sleeve shirt my grandmother would wear + bustier dress that makes your bust look small = not ample incentive to pay you for sex.

Is that really the best prostitute wardrobe you've got?
Maybe that's why you can only get this close to him.

Rani Mukherjee somehow manages to look more beautiful with almost no makeup — who knew Rani had freckles?! — and a comparatively drab wardrobe. But she has little luck seducing Suri too, even though she’s married to him, so… Maybe Suri just has, y’know, a bit of a problem.

She looks more glam in stills even than the film.
That's okay, Suri. Your police work is sketchy (both in terms of getting anywhere and in terms of ethics), you're probably crazy, your dead son wants to speak with you... Those are probably bigger problems than your sex life.

Like Rosie toying with Suri, I felt mostly like Talaash is one great big tease, and I walked out of the theater with the feeling I'd been had. The first half starts out so promising — exciting, twisting — and then it doesn't follow through.

We start off with a hard-nosed cop who promises to get to the bottom of a story — but ends up unable to keep at least three more people from dying. It gives hope of the fast-paced thriller tight-knit plot, but we end up with a lackluster pace and plot holes so big Suri can drive his police Qualis through them. Rosie starts out with promise and ends up three years dead (and why the hell is she killing everybody three years later anyway?! Damn girl, get a move on). And this may be the religion coming out in me (I don't believe you play with the dead being undead; spirits are real, yo), but the fact that Suri and Roshni have to find closure over their son's death through letters from him beyond the grave — yeah, no.

I felt this way about the talking with dead people too, Suri. Glad we agree.
And even Stevie Wonder saw the “mysterious prostitute is a ghost!” twist coming. Before intermission. Or at least I did. I guess it was too much for me to hope that the twist wasn’t that she was a ghost but some great mastermind behind the whole thing. After all, we are talking about Kareena Kapoor here. Mastermind nahin hai.

"She's a ghost! Act surprised!"

Although I admit her showing up in the back of Suri’s police vehicle with a creepy YOU’RE GOING TO DIE! smile had me momentarily terrified. But then Rosie/Simran/whatever her name is has basically killed everybody else in the movie — including Tehmur, who went for a doctor before she died… yeah, killing him is really logical — so why not add a few more?

Oh, and while we’re at it, dear ghosty veshya, by the end, Suri is the only one who knows what happened to you, and everybody thinks he’s crazy. How’s that quest for justice and recognition as a human being — reversing “how can we disappear if we don’t even exist?” idea you complain about — working out for you? Not so well, methinks.

Besides, how lame is it that all these people die because of an accident that two young, scared idiots and one pimp don't report? For the darkness of the film, leaving an already nearly-dead prostitute in the middle of the road while you try to save your nearly-dead friend does not seem like an evil big enough — though it's certainly wrong — to carry an entire film.

Thank God Rani Mukherjee and Aamir Khan are both so awesome — I don't think I've ever seen either give a performance I didn't love, even in a bad movie. I might have been tempted to walk out about three quarters of the way through the movie (if not earlier) out of frustration with the plot. But I think doing so would have cheated wonderful performances by both of them, and aside from talking to dead people, Suri and Roshni's relationship story is far better than the "thriller"-story-ruined-by-a-ghost.

These two = awesome.

So, yes, I was a bit disappointed in the film. What I wasn’t disappointed in: Aamir’s mustache. (Also note how Aamir’s angry eyebrows + his mustache = black X on his face. This amuses me.)

Montage to the utterly expressive mustache.

Mustache conveys: "Da fu...?"

Mustache conveys: baddassery. (Contrary to ears.)

Mustache conveys: "I am not pleased."

Mustache conveys: "I am listening but not caring."
Mustache says: "I am still frowning while he is laughing!"

So, even though I liked (even loved) some parts of the movie, this is how I felt after the end:

"I'm going to give another awesome performance and trick them all into watching a poorly executed plot!"
"And so I told them I could act. And they actually believed me!"


  1. Acting wise all are excellent. But the storyline is lacking. It was more of an emotional drama than that of any investigation. The hero was alwys in pensive mood and he didnt try to do much of any ivestigation. I mean he was not much proactive in his investigation. his character could have been much stronger. The movie could have been a much more thriller than it is. The pace of the film could have been faster. The cop is shown as very weak personality where his emotions took over his actual duty to investigate. To say the cop didnt ivestigate much as everything went on revealing because of kareen kapoor.

    1. Agreed! If you look at the movie not as the thriller or investigation that it pretends to be, then it's a decent movie. But when you consider what it's supposed to be, it inevitably comes up weak.

  2. I too thought the act wasn't evil enough to let kareena do all of that. But then again, who said spirits have to act justifiably? Neither real claims nor the movie ever expresses that right? That makes it all that more creepy, disturbing & fun.

    1. Yes, well, the fact that a ghost is the culprit in the movie definitely proves that this one goes by its own rules!

  3. Should be a nice movie.. Click on my name for more Bollywood gossip.

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  5. Hi again!

    I've been wanting to watch this movie, along with Barfi and Student of the Year online with English subtitles, but I can't find any online with Eng subs! I was wondering if you can help?? Btw...I really love your blog!! Thanks a lot!

    1. I know Student of the Year and Barfi are on with subtitles. Talaash probably won't be on there or out on DVD for a while, though.

      By the way, I loved Barfi and Student of the Year!

  6. I was able to watch Student of the Year, and I loved it as well. I had my initial reservations on it after watching the trailer, but they were totally gone after I saw it haha! I haven't been able to find Barfi yet, it's not on
    And I really do appreciate your blog - as a non-desi (Arab), it speaks to me a lot to find fellow non-desis in love with Bollywood, India, Indian culture and clothing and food, etc!

  7. I too agree that Kareena is bad at acting in this film (and in my opinion, in others as well). She's the anti-Katrina Kaif to me; while Katrina has no expression on her face, Kareena has far too many.

    1. Oooh, the anti-Katrina. That is a brilliant thought.