Two years ago ensconced in a theatre in Delhi, the palest face in an arena of enthralled Indians, mesmerized by a Bollywood film revolving around the escapades of good and evil politicians, even without subtitles, I was astonished by the depth of the actors skills. Today, once again the lightest-complexioned individual, surrounded by Indian-Americans, in a Midwestern city, hypnotized by “Talaash”, blessed with subtitles; feeling a sliver of optimism that Indians, removed from the confines of India’s borders, are finally succumbing, supporting their fascinating genre in the Western world.
“Talaash” stars the iconic actors: Aamir Khan, Rani Mukerji, Kareena Kapoor; all with a myriad of films hosting their inimitable talents. Aamir Khan plays mustached – Inspector Surjan “Suri” Shekhawat, a fractured soul searching for meaning in the accidental death, of heartthrob film star, “Armaan Kapoor” (handsome model/actor, Vivan Bhatena); Mukerji, “Roshi”, Surjan’s clinically depressed wife, battles the coldness of her husband and surviving in a world deprived of her greatest treasure; she gives a sublime, sensitive, stunning performance. Kareena Kapoor is “Rosie”, a “woman for hire” who aids Inspector Shekhawat as he wades through the miasma of mystery, death and mayhem; she imbues the character with enough mystique, charm and evasiveness to trap one’s attention, especially in her alluring moments with the Inspector.
The film succeeds without one huge Ziegfeld song and dance production; the absence of “Falstaff” or any Shakespearian comic relief, is positively refreshing; the actors had to sign a contract prohibiting them from disclosing the ending. Many found the conclusion problematic, melodramatic. I did not; it reflected the karmic aspect of the Indian’s philosophical composition. The underlying message, question of how one addresses what the gods have deemed irrevocable; should grief be enshrined? When does intransigence become a vice? Is justice meted to the culpable in this life or the next?
The answer, remedy “lies within”, requiring monumental courage to flay the layers of denial, obfuscation; revealing a path to redemption, acceptance, peace.