Tamasha takes the first 15 minutes of the movie just to introduce Ved’s character. Which is pretty unorthodox for a movie that has been sold to us as a romance movie by its trailer. This is where you first start to see that this movie isn’t going to be just about the love story.
I think we can all agree on the fact that Bollywood has no shortage of movies about love stories. There are at least two which come out every year and apart from each having its own quirk, they’re pretty much all the same. Boy meets girl, song sequences, more flirting, song sequence, minor inconvenience, sad song sequence and the grand gesture done by one of the two or both parties which resolves everything and the movie ends.
I’m not complaining, I mean who doesn’t like love stories and it’s the one thing that is always a moderately safe thing to bet on in Bollywood.
But, every once in a while, a movie like Tamasha comes around which can be classified as a love story but is actually more than that.
In most love stories, both main characters are introduced at the same time or given the same amount of screen time for their introductions to play out. And each of these characters end up being same thing with quirks and that is all you ever get.
Most of these movies are littered with song and dance sequences. Befikre had 7 songs in the movie and one song played twice, which is 8 song sequences. And if we take the average length of a song as 3.5 minutes, that amounts to 28 minutes of the movie. 28 minutes of a 2 hour 10 minute long movie are spent singing and dancing. I mean it is a great way to keep the audience distracted from the fact that there is no story to really grasp on to.
Tamasha has a song and dance sequence, but it has just the one. The rest of the soundtrack is utilized in a mostly transitional sense and that is how music should be used. Don’t show me something just because it looks good. Make sure whatever you decide to show has a purpose other than just looking good.
So, after the song and dance sequence is both the main characters immediately fall in love. It’s like ripping off a band aid, you know you have to do it and you know it is gonna sting so might as well get it over with quickly.
There are some really clichéd yet heartfelt moments between the characters before they eventually part ways.
Something similar happens in another movie which had the same two actors in the lead roles but it was handled in a more conventional manner.
We created a video so that you don’t have to read through all of this. Watch it here:
In Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, after everything that happens which brings Kabir and Naina together, it is revealed that Kabir is going to go to Chicago to study journalism and they end up parting ways.
Once they meet again, it is implied that the love between them resumes as it was and nothing has really changed. Apart from the fact that Naina has gone from awkward nerdy girl with specs to casually attractive confident girl with lenses for no real reason.
Here, Imtiaz Ali does the same thing differently. Once Tara and Ved part ways, we follow Tara’s story and see how things go for her for the next couple of years. She breaks up with her boyfriend and slowly starts becoming more and more important in the company she works for but above all else she is still pretty lonely.
So after doing some socially acceptable stalking, she finds Ved. And just like the characters in every other romance movie, she assumes that the love between them will resume from where they had left it four years ago.
But in the case of the first movie, where after the two characters meet again, the minor inconvenience was Kabir having to choose between a life with Naina or living abroad to follow his dreams, in Tamasha Imtiaz Ali sees this opportunity to throw in a not so minor inconvenience.
Ved isn’t the person that Tara had fallen in love with and this alienates her to the extent that she leaves him, making him go haywire.
Where in other romantic movies this part is usually the shortest and comes near the end of the movie and is usually put in there as a formality, Imtiaz Ali decided to make this the halfway point of the film and seizes this opportunity to delve deeper into Ved’s suppressed character and shows the emotional struggle he goes through in order to get back up on his feet and become the man he always wanted to be.
This movie stood out for me because it avoided taking the easy way out and chose to not do something different but the same thing differently. It for the most part follows the exact same beats just like every other love story does but in doing so chooses to tell a more detailed and important story. We don’t really see a lot of love stories that have little to do with something other than the romance that exists between the main two characters.
This is something that takes a lot of courage to pull off because there is always a risk of people leaving the theatre, scratching their heads. We rarely see films where the director doesn’t stylize his film with the help of over the top characters and repetitive song sequences just because there is a love story at play.
Tamasha is in my opinion a really underrated film. Back in 2015 when it was released, it got a moderate response from both critics and audiences and was very quickly overlooked. Even I remember not being that impressed with this film when I had first watched it. One of the reasons behind this underwhelming response could’ve been that all the promotional material for this film severely misrepresented what the film was really about. The main trailer of this film tries to sell you a love story and while there is a love story at play, the film is about a lot more than just the love that exists between the two main characters.
My initial disappointment with this film was mainly due to the fact that I had expected this film to be something it wasn’t trying to be and it was my expectations and the idea I had of what I thought this film was supposed to be that let me down. Because of those things I ended up comparing this film to Rockstar, which was a love story through and through. So, the comparison I made was unfair and it ended up making me feel like this film was lackluster. Even though the performances, music and cinematography were all great, I didn’t really connect the film like I had with Rockstar. Something was stopping me from doing that and I didn’t know what.
Before I start talking about this film in depth I should warn that this video is spoiler filled. So if you haven’t seen the film yet, check it out and then come back to the video.
I recently re-watched this movie after two years and was extremely impressed by it because now I truly saw the film for what it was.
This film is not about the love story between Tara and Ved but it uses that love that exists between them to tell Ved’s story and watching it a second time made that a lot clearer. Imtiaz Ali spends the first 12 minutes of the film setting up the character of Ved by showing his childhood and no generic love story spends that much time with just one character even if he is the protagonist of that film. This flashback sequence is where we learn about Ved’s passion of storytelling. His passion develops every time he interacts with a local storyteller of the town he stayed in. For him, these stories serve as an escape from a reality that he knows he has to return to at the end of the day is obliged to stick to.
Now we go to Corsica where we first meet Tara and the love story comes into play. Tara meets Ved and one song sequence later she feels like there is a legitimate connection between the two. If the song didn’t convince you that she genuinely finds Ved special, we see follow her story after she returns home. We see that as years go by, she’s emotionally stuck in the same place. So after some mild but socially acceptable stalking she runs into Ved again and feels like this is her chance to be complete again. As time goes by she realizes that there is little left of the man that she fell in love with. Tara feels alienated by what Ved has since become and decides to leave him which makes him go haywire. This is where ved’s conflicted personality starts toying with his everyday life as for the first time someone refuses to accept him as what he was forced to become.
This where the movie mainly becomes about Ved. The loss of that love does irreparable damage to him and he is split as to what he should do next. Should he just continue to live his new life and forget about Tara or fully realize what he really is and try to be that person he’s always wanted to be. After being fired and unemployed for six months he returns home, where he hopes to find the answers to the questions that he keeps asking himself. Not knowing what to do with himself, he returns to his hometown where he finds the old storyteller. Convinced by the notion that everybody’s life is just a story that has already been told, he asks the storyteller to recite to him what happens next in his story. The story teller, frustrated by Ved’s questions makes him realize that his story is his own, but he must be brave enough live it.
Imtiaz Ali uses Love as an element to tell a larger story about a conflicted individual who finds the courage to be the person he has always wanted to be. He pays more attention to Ved’s suppressed personality and uses love as an excuse to explore it.
All in all, an excellent watch.