Talaash (Search) is an ambitious film. Because it aims at doing what few Hindi films do. Marry mainstream Hindi film with authentic cinema. Have A-list stars portray characters that are well-sketched out and do not remind you of the superstar status of these actors. And wonder of wonders, have a solid screenplay that resonates at several levels. What’s more, it’s even more ambitious because it pulls off a genre-bending act by combining the elements of a crime thriller with those of a supernatural movie with hefty doses of drama.
The story revolves around a cop who is tasked with investigating the death of a popular actor following a bizarre car accident. As the case unravels, leading the protagonist into the underbelly of Mumbai’s red light district, he grapples with his relationship with his estranged wife after the loss of their only child as he finds an unlikely confidante in a hooker.
What’s interesting is that Talaash avoids falling into the trap of a whodunnit and its ‘supernatural’ angle too remains grounded, which makes the twist at the end more believable. It carefully lays the groundwork and sets up the twist right from the first frame when we see a car go careening off a deserted street in Mumbai and plunge straight into the Arabian Sea. Sure, the ‘twist’ wasn’t as shocking as the revelation in Sixth Sense, and though you could see it coming towards the last quarter of the film, it never seems unbelievable or out of place. In fact, even after the revelation, the film doesn’t lose its impact as the film ends focuses on the drama and the emotional catharsis for the lead characters.
The authentic portrayal of the characters and their dilemmas is the highlight of the film. The strength of the movie is in its script and has layers to it that invite you to take a closer look at the nuances — a film that would be just as enjoyable even on a second viewing, even though the subject is not really that of a ‘feel-good entertainer’. Kudos to director Reema Kagti who has co-written the screenplay with Zoya Akhtar for making a movie that’s a riveting watch.