Monday, December 14, 2015

Imtiaz Ali's 'Tamasha' like his 'Rockstar' deals with the difficult issue of what it is to be an artist, and like in 'Rockstar' falters and falls flat

It needs a certain amount of courage to make an emotional movie without any lifeguards as it were. The romantic myth about the artist is that he or she has to be serve the 'inner daemon'. It is a phenomenon that has been made popular with Socrates. The Athenian philosopher felt that he was being driven by some divine force to speak the truth and he had no choice in the matter. The image of artist an inspired figure was revived during the Renaissance period in Europe and then again during the Romantic period. Imtiaz Ali has been trying to put this romantic image of the artist in 'Rockstar' as well as in 'Tamasha'. But he fails to tell the story of the inspired artist, who is a little different, and who is above the ordinary folk. It would be unnecessary to argue against the romantic myth of the artist. What we need to look at is whether Ali has managed to convey the idea convincingly enough. Ali fails, and fails rather badly.

In 'Tamasha' there are echoes of Raj Kapoor's 'Mera Naam Joker' but one need not quarrel too much with it. But Ali's movie would have been more convincing if he had not done that creative filching from Raj Kapoor. The second mistake that Ali makes is to tell the story of his hero finding his artistic self through a slicing the narrative going back and forth between past and present. It does not make for clarity.

The director also fails to make a compelling contrast between the 'Tamasha' hero Ved Sahni (Ranbir Kapoor), who works in a private corporation and Ved who disguises himself in the imaginary character of Don. What he could have done is to have shown how Ved leads a double life of the artist as storyteller and of the 'regular, normal working guy'. He botches up the contrast between the roles and that is what lands 'Tamasha' in an insipid soup. In contrast, the artist in 'Rockstar', again played by Ranbir Kapoor, is the demonic artist obsessed and consumed by his own passion and emotion. It appears that Ali has tried to make the narrative about the artist a little more complicated but it has not worked out.

Ranbir Kapoor has a problem. He is not able to get out of the shadow of the legendary Raj Kapoor. This year, he has tried to recapitulate the Raj Kapoor persona in two films, Anurag Kshyap's 'Bombay Velvet' and in 'Tamasha'. It is proving to be counter-productive. He may have to rethink his artistic persona. He had one of his own in films like 'Rocket Singh', 'Wake Up Sid'.

Deepika Padukone is becoming bolder by the day as an actress. She is willing to show her vulnerable side by letting herself go into expressions of raw emotions. It is an admirable thing but she too will have to rethink her approach. Perhaps she may have to use some kind of an artistic filter to play out the emotions of the characters she portrays.


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