Director, Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha moves on from a Romeo and Juliet story to a Romeo vs Romeo story. It’s essentially a story of internal conflict. Here we only know and understand Romeo through Juliet. But as for Juliet, we never know who she is, except that she is a more positive reflection of Romeo.
With a nice, unique concept by Arif Ali, Tamasha is about a dreamer who tries to confirm to the so-called real world. It shows how that inner conflict of what’s true or false for the self, spills over into a young man’s world, both at work and in romance.
The film opens to a stage performance of two actors-a clown (Deepika Padukone) and a robot (Ranbir Kapoor) where the clown tells the robot to take everyone on a journey between ‘ dil aur duniya ‘. Sounds familiar? Ali’ s Rockstar had ended (if memory serves correctly), with a Rumi quote saying, “Beyond an idea of right doings and wrong doings, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
The world of Tamasha is as vague or philosophical, as the quote, depending on how you see it. The protagonists clearly don’t like living in the real world. As a little boy in Simla, our hero would run to a storyteller baba to hear about Ram and Sita and Laila-Majnu. With his imagination growing riper than the tales, he grows up into someone who introduces himself as a Don to a young girl (Padukone) on a holiday in Corsica. Quickly playing up to his make believe world, she turns into Mona Darling (the character of a goon’s moll in the film Zanjeer) who knows where Teja’s (goon in Zanjeer) gold is.
The two enter a pact that they will not reveal their real identities or meet after the holiday. For the next 7 days, they turn into whoever they want to be, ranging from Don and Dev Anand to Mona Darling and a famous Indian actress who breaks into Italian English.
The scenes allow for a suspension of disbelief, purely thanks to Ravi Varman’s skillful camera moves and Ranbir and Deepika’s utterly adorable performances. Ranbir charms in his Dev Anand head tilt and smooth gait as the nonchalant traveller happy with his fun charades.
Once the holiday ends, the girl cannot forget the guy for several years. When they do meet in Delhi, the story takes a really interesting turn. The girl is Tara. He is Ved, a sales manager. Revealing anything more would be a spoiler. The film reaches a great interval point, after which it goes into a long drawn explanation of Ved’s psychological makeup. Too many childhood and adolescence flashbacks and Ved’s sudden transformation at office turn into a series of mirror scenes where Ved tries to resolve his demons.
Three very well written scenes between Ved and Tara, Ved and his father (Javed Sheikh) and Ved and his boss, make Tamasha a great story with a lesson. Deepika and Ranbir display their finest in both emotions, body language and chemistry during a heartbreaking moment of conflict in the latter half. This is their ultimate Laila-Majnu moment. All credit goes to its sensitive direction by Ali. However the tug of war between Ved and his soul takes away from Ved and Tara’s love story until it reaches a predictable ending.
Somewhere between a love story and a self-journey, there is an imaginative Imtiaz Ali field with tortured characters. Tamasha meets you there. The message is as real as the world is unreal. Watch the film to dissect that dichotomy.