Talaash

 

There are no mysteries in the age of social media…

Pic source: Wikipedia

Pic source: Wikipedia

Before you read any further: I have tried to keep this post spoiler-free and basic plot points mentioned here are already shown in the film’s trailers. However, if you are going to watch the film regardless of the reviews, I recommend reading this or any other review after you’ve seen it.

Talaash may not be the best thriller we have seen this year (my vote goes to Kahaani) but I am glad the makers (Excel Entertainment, Aamir Khan Productions and Reliance Entertainment) tried to attempt something different with the movie. It has an interesting story, great performances by the cast and an unexpected ending, which thanks to loud-mouths on social media got ruined for many including me. I feel bad for everyone who could have enjoyed the film more if they did not know about the big twist in the end. In the age of Twitter and BBM, it is a challenge for filmmakers also to make suspense thrillers that can stay strong despite the spoiler getting leaked out.

Coming back to Talaash, it is decent film that gets many things right but does not keep you at the edge of your seat. People have been complaining about its slow pace, but it worked for me; writer-director, Reema Kagti (screenplay with Zoya Akhtar) creates a mood that brings together the eeriness of a murder mystery with the personal grief that her main protagonists are going through. Inspector Surjan Singh Shekhawat (Aamir Khan) and his wife, Roshni (Rani Mukerji) are unable to cope with their 8-year-old son’s accidental death, which strains their marriage. Surjan’s investigation of a high-profile death case contributes to his personal troubles as he finds himself drawn to an unlikely friend, a prostitute named Rosie (Kareena Kapoor). Surjan and Roshni’s story is probably the strongest part of the film; their grief is portrayed sensitively by the two actors, especially Rani who has got a role that exploits her talent after very long. Kareena is also good in the film and I hope she continues to choose interesting characters like this, rather than insignificant roles in mega-blockbuster masala films. Regarding Aamir, he is excellent as a cop tormented by his own demons – on one hand he is a tough police officer and on the other a hapless father. Kudos to the casting director (Nandini Shrikent) for also getting a talented supporting cast on board including Shernaz Patel and Nawazuddin Siddiqui – now this man is a chameleon – from a revenge seeking gangster in Gangs of Wasseypur 2 to a pimp’s right-hand man in Talaash, he is a delight to watch.

With superlative performances by all the actors and an interesting plot, Talaash starts on a promising note but does not confuse the audience enough to make it an exciting affair. Surjan keeps finding clue after clue and the film moves in a straight line till the ‘unexpected’ climax. Now, I had a rough idea about the final twist but I was able to piece things together within the first ten minutes of the film. The makers relied too much on the twist, which also is not entirely a fresh idea. Because I had a clue to the end, I may not be completely fair to the film but it is a lukewarm thriller and the murder mystery unfolds in a dull manner, except the surprise element in the end.

Music by Ram Sampath goes well with the mood of the film but is not outstanding (why do most big releases this year have just about average music?) Cinematography by Mohanan is nice and he uses a dull color tone to give a dark and gloomy feel to Mumbai in the film.

Talaash is certainly a one-time watch for the actors’ performances and you may enjoy it more if you don’t know the spoiler. So, go for it before someone tells it to you.

PS: I got my spoiler from a well-known journalist, Kushan Mitra (@KushanMitra) who inadvertently revealed similarities to a Hollywood film on Twitter. So-called actor, producer, Kamaal R Khan (@KamaalRKhan) also tweeted spoilers to the film.

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Karthik Calling Karthik

 

A good attempt, but…

Pic: Excel Ent; Source: Wikipedia

What if you got a phone call from yourself? Writer-Director, Vijay Lalwani presents an innovative concept with his debut film, Karthik Calling Karthik. Congratulations to his producers, Excel Entertainment (Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar) for always trying something new, whether it works or doesn’t. Karthik Calling Karthik is an interesting thriller that could have been much better with tighter editing and maybe a better climax.

Karthik Narayan (Farhan Akhtar) plays an introvert whose existence goes unnoticed at work unless someone has to shout at him. He likes a girl in his office, Shonali Mukherjee (Deepika Padukone) but is obviously too shy to even respond to her when she accidently acknowledges his presence. In other words, he is a complete loser. His life changes when he gets a call from Karthik Narayan; yes, that’s him only. I have to admit that the basic premise is extremely interesting and throughout the film there are situations that surprise you. I will not reveal the story any further as that would take away from the experience.

Farhan is good as a middle class working professional who aspires to succeed at work and also go out with the most attractive girl around. Deepika looks great with a new hair-do (something that all actors get in a film produced by Farhan… good job Adhuna!); she may not be a great actor but has good screen presence. What is good is her choice of characters of strong, modern Indian women. Shefali Shah has a short role that does not do justice to an actor of her caliber (Gandhi-My Father, Monsoon Wedding).

The music is just about fine (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy) with ‘Uff teri adaa…’ becoming a chartbuster; it is a nice song and is shot well. Other songs were not really required as they stretched the narrative. In the technical department, editing could’ve been better as the film starts sagging especially in the second half. That’s where I blame the screenplay too; there is a very interesting build up but not so exciting resolution. That’s a problem which a lot of filmmakers face, where they do not know how to conclude a good plot line; Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes is another example where the film completely crashes towards the end.

Overall, you can give Karthik a call but don’t expect to be wowed.

My Rating: * * * Three stars on five

Shrey Khetarpal

 

Teen Patti

 

You’ve got a Joker…

Pic: Hinduja Ventures; Source: Wikipedia

You take first rate actors like Amitabh Bachchan and Ben Kingsley and waste them in a super boring copy of a super interesting English film (though the makers refute the claim but a lot of us have seen Kevin Spacey’s21’); that is what Teen Patti is, a boring film. It is director, Leena Yadav’s second film after Shabd, which didn’t work but was far superior to this dud.  

Teen Patti is about a Mathematics professor, Venkat Subramaniam (Amitabh Bachchan) who comes up with a card counting technique using the theory of probability. He wants to submit the same as his dissertation. He is convinced by his colleague, Shantanu Biswas (R. Madhavan) and a few students (Dhruv Ganesh, Shraddha Kapoor, Siddharth Kher and Vaibhav Talwar) to test the same through practical application. Since we do not have Vegas like casinos in India, the gambling scenes are either presented in dingy illegal gambling dens or at private parties. There are many gambling sequences in the film but none of them gripping enough to hold your interest (remember the card game in Casino Royale). Anyways, there are other twists in the film that becomes a whodunit in the second half. There are many forgettable and unimpressive cameos and actors like Jackie Shroff, Ajay Devgn, Mahesh Manjrekar, Shakti Kapoor, Raima Sen and Tinnu Anand are completely wasted.

Amitabh Bachchan does what he is asked to do in the film and so does Madhavan. Both of them are unable to save the film because of the lousy screenplay and poor acting by the new comers. Leena Yadav clearly made this film for the multiplex audience as an important part of the film is in English (AB’s interaction with Ben Kingsley), that too without Hindi subtitles limiting any chances in the smaller centres. She should have realized that the audience she is trying to reach out to have already seen 21, Casino Royale and the Ocean’s series. And why is Ben Kingsley there? Just because you got him to say yes! If you do not have a proper role for an actor of that caliber, please do not approach him.

Overall, Teen Patti is one of the lamest films I have seen lately and would not recommend it to anyone.

My Rating: * ½ One and a half star on five

Shrey Khetarpal