Movie Review: Talaash (2012)

Talaash_poster3.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Talaash: The Answer Lies Within is exactly I wanted it to be: an engaging thriller with great performances.

Talaash opens with footage of Mumbai’s red light districts set to a jazzy theme: an intro to the excellent soundtrack by Ram Sampath that permeates the film. The action begins as a car veers suddenly from a seaside road near the red light district, soaring over a wall and crashing into the ocean.

The car’s driver is Armaan Kapoor (Vivan Bhatena), a famous actor. The circumstances of Armaan’s death — Why was he in such a seedy part of town? Why was he driving instead of his chauffeur? — are suspicious enough to lead Inspector Surjan Shekhawat (Aamir Khan) to treat the case as more than a simple accident.

The case also provides Surjan with a convenient escape from the tension at home. He and his wife, Roshni (Rani Mukerji), are struggling with the recent accidental death of their young son. Both blame themselves, but Surjan refuses to discuss his feelings with Roshni, choosing to throw himself into his work.

Surjan finds an investigative ally in Rosie (Kareena Kapoor), a coy prostitute who knows which of Mumbai’s least savory residents has clues to Armaan’s death. Two persons of interest in the case include a pimp named Shashi and his much abused errand-boy, Tehmur (Nawazuddin Siddiqui).

Rosie does more for Surjan than just help his case. She provides him with a place free from memories of his son. At home, Roshni stares at Surjan with expectation, waiting for the chance to really talk with her husband, whereas Rosie’s eyes hold an invitation.

Khan is powerful as the tortured Surjan. Whether it’s investigating Armaan’s death or following beguiling Rosie, Surjan is desperate for a problem to solve. All that comes from thinking about his son’s death are the questions of what he could’ve done to prevent it.

Mukerji is likewise terrific as Roshni, who is just as saddened by her son’s death, but even more troubled that Surjan won’t work with her to heal their wounds. She stares at her husband with such longing before finally resolving to find peace on her own.

Kapoor’s Rosie is too coy at the start, and it takes a while before she seems like a real person and not a caricature of a prostitute. When she finally starts to discuss serious topics with Surjan, she does so with an evasive glibness.

As is the case with seemingly every movie he’s been in recently, Nawazuddin Siddiqui again steals the show. Pitiable Tehmur is the perfect target for abuse: his mother was a prostitute and he has one misshapen foot, so he has no other option but to do what Shashi says. Siddiqui plays Tehmur as resourceful and scrappy, and he seizes an opportunity to get rich quick, even if it gets him in way over his head.

The sweetest relationship in the film is between Tehmur and Nirmala, a prostitute who’s been told she’s too old to be of any value. World-weary Nirmala is not overly affectionate with Tehmur, but because she’s the only person who treats him with any kindness at all, he acts as though she’s promised him eternal love. The relationship wouldn’t be so affecting without someone as skilled as Siddiqui playing Tehmur.

In Talaash, director Reema Kagti and her co-writer Zoya Akhtar have created an entertaining thriller that uses every one of its 139 minutes wisely. It’s easily accessible for anyone who’s a fan of thrillers, as the English subtitles are well-translated from Hindi.


23 thoughts on “Movie Review: Talaash (2012)

  1. Keyur Seta

    Nicely expressed as always, Kathy. Read your Khiladi 786 review as well. I have a different take on both films. I personally think Khiladi 786 was getting close to racism but I didn’t find it offensive. We can agree to disagree again πŸ™‚

    Links –

    I also saw Life Of Pi. Me and my friend were disgusted by it –

    Cheers πŸ™‚

    1. Kathy

      Thanks for linking to your reviews, Keyur. As for the racism in Khiladi 786, playing “black” by wearing blackface and Afro wigs will someday be considered as offensive in India as it already is in most of the rest of the world. I wish the producers would’ve chosen to be progressive on the issue rather that mocking people of African origin just because they can currently get away with it. πŸ™

      1. Keyur Seta

        You most welcome, Kathy πŸ™‚
        I really didn’t know it is considered offensive in many countries. I guess I need to watch that footage again.

        Cheers πŸ™‚

  2. Vivian

    Hey Kathy,

    So finally you did review Talaash, good job. I had watched it the first day itself. For me initially, the movie was a little slow paced but after the twist in the end it all made sense the pace of the movie and everything. I too enjoyed the overall movie. It came as a surprise to me being an Aamir Khan fan that I am, that he chose to do a film of this genre.

    For me Talaash would be the last movie that I watched at a cine in 2012, no other interesting movies for me atleast releasing in Dec.

    I don’t know how its there, but here during the interval they did show the promo of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag starring Farhan Akhtar, ( I am Fan of Farhan Akhtar too be it the movies he has directed or acted in, loved them all) it did look really interesting. Directed by Rakeysh Om prakash mehra of Delhi 6 and Rang De Basanti fame. Looking forward to that, will have to wait till July though πŸ™

    1. Kathy

      Thanks, Vivian! One of the things I appreciate most about Aamir Khan is the way he chooses a variety of roles. He’s acting rather than just playing himself onscreen.

      I adore Farhan Akhtar, so I’m really looking forward to Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, too!

  3. Anushka

    I really liked the film a lot.The film successfully triumphed in creating a riveting atmosphere and its very absorbing.Actually,it was the personal life and the trauma of aamir’s charactor that I found fascinating.Not only were they very well enacted by both aamir n rani but also well-executed.The movie manages to engage you in the proceedings.But at times I felt some of the charactors were unnecessary and a little stretched beyond a point.Considering the end,I actually predicted it pretty much before the revelation nd I don’t think it was difficult to predict at all.I thought,it was kinda cheesy.the camerawork was superb.and performances were pretty good,though kareena was weird with her exaggerated expressions in the initial portions,like u mentioned a bit caricaturish.but fell it place my verdict will be good,mostly because it engaged me as a drama than a thriller.

    so this is the final film I see this year…I really hate the masala nonsensical crap like dabanng,singham,rowdy rothore etc that bollywood is churning out these I have completely kept myself away from the sight of these kinda films..

    1. Kathy

      Anushka, I agree that Surjan’s internal struggles are even more engaging than the mystery he’s trying to solve. That story focus allows Reema Kagti to put an interesting twist on a traditional chase scene. Instead of pursuing a suspect in a car or on foot, one of Talaash’s chase scenes takes place as Surjan slowly follows Rosie through a crowded market. She teases him as she walks through a stall with fabrics hanging from the ceiling. I thought it was really clever.

      The original Dabangg was one of the few Salman Khan movies to acknowledge some of the absurd aspects of his usual characters, and I hope to see more self-awareness in the sequel. I’m optimistic.

  4. ankitdf2009

    See, i told you, Talaash was going to be a wonderful experience. Probably, u dont like my mails (i tried to explain rebirth and then, history of India, in one of my mails) so , i wont write much. But i am an honest person with sincere intentions. This blog provides an excellent American perspective of Hindi films , and hence, makes enjoyable reading.

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