Movie review: Talaash
Cast: Aamir Khan, Rani Mukerji, Kareena Kapoor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Direction: Reema Kagti
Whoooo.... a street dog ominously howls on a deserted road by the dark sea and you know something ghastly is about to happen right away. A celebrity death follows, even as the opening titles end. Ghastly leads to ghostly soon enough. By the first hour, as the sinister quietly soaks the frames, you are sure there is a ghost lurking amidst the cast.
Like most character cliches in our films, Bollywood ghosts can be good or bad depending on who is playing them. If it is a leading star essaying the role of a ghost, he/she is on the prowl strictly to settle scores baddies and has no negative intention otherwise. Invariably, the starry ghost will have a heart of gold.
If you overlook the fact that the most intriguing character of Talaash suffers that snag, Aamir Khan's new film is one hell of a ride. Suspense thrillers in Bollywood are rare commodity, films within the genre that create scope to delve deep into the minds of its protagonists are even rarer. Talaash creates its chills primarily tapping into the dark side of the mind, which makes it an unusual Bollywood film. Any resemblance to Joseph Payne Brennan and Donald M. Grant's 1979 novella, Act Of Providence, is purely coincidental.
Writer-director Reema Kagti and her script associate Zoya Akhtar have created an enigmatic screen cop for Aamir Khan- in command at work, yet out of control in personal life. Aamir's uniformed avatar, Inspector Surjan Singh Shekhawat, is a bundle of bottled angst. He is summoned to probe the bizarre death of a Bollywood superstar. In the dead of the night, eyewitnesses recall, the superstar skidded off an empty road and swung his car right into the sea. Primary tests reveal no trace of alcohol or drugs in the victim's body and most in the force feel the case cannot be solved.
Kagti adds to the puzzle with each new character that enters the tale, as Shekhawat goes about scouting for clues with his sidekick (Rajkumar Yadav). We get to know his wife Roshni (Rani Mukerji) is still coming to terms with the drowning of their only son. The over-friendly Parsi woman next door (Shernaz Patel) talks of communicating with the dead. Shekhawat meets a sex worker, Rosie (Kareena Kapoor), who could possibly provide some leads. The red-light underbelly where Rosie lives is home to an interesting mix too, chief among them being Tehmur (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), slimeball with a limp who obviously knows more than he pretends to.
The parallel subplots of Shekhawat's trauma as a bereaved father and a cop obsessed about cracking his case set up the backbone of the story. Aamir strikes a balance between the two tracks with trademark subtlety, the way only he can. Kareena Kapoor's Rosie is underplayed till a point. Although she seems ill at ease with the mannerism of a sex worker, Kareena adds the essential glam quotient.