Movie Review: TAMASHA (2015) – Misunderstood Story Of A Protagonist With Mental Ilness

Published by Shah Shahid on

Imtiaz Ali makes great movies. Sure, they have their flaws but they’re experimental and abstract enough, dealing with subject matter on a much deeper level than his contemporaries, that his movies can be classified as truly great. 

He’s a director that pushes boundaries, albeit in a very familiar way, and almost always about a similar protagonist. His last movie ‘Tamasha’, is the story of a creative soul wanting to be a storyteller, obsessed with stories, but ironically Ali makes many mistakes while telling this particular story itself.

So here’s my Spoiler filled Review of ‘Tamasha’ directed by Imtiaz Ali

Rating:

Movie Review: TAMASHA (2015) - Misunderstood Story Of A Protagonist With Mental Ilness

Movie Review: TAMASHA (2015) - Misunderstood Story Of A Protagonist With Mental Ilness

Tamasha‘ is all about Ved, (Ranbir Kapoor) a boring engineer suppressed by societal pressure to conform, until one day his creative side attempts to break through in order to save his love, and more importantly, himself. Or rather, that’s what the writer-director would have you believe, because none of that reveals itself until the second act. And even then it’s kind of misguided.

The story starts in the French town of Corsica, a word so often uttered by the characters that I feel like it’s where my neighborhood bar is located. A cute-meet occurs as the helpful Ved rescues damsel in distress Tara, (Deepika Padukone) initiating a whirlwind vacation and essentially a no strings attached (platonic) fling, as they promise to never reveal anything about themselves to the other.

The rest of the first act is the two having adventurous fun set against gorgeous exotic locations, while basically roleplaying as obscure characters from old Hindi films, with go nowhere conversations. Tara is perplexed but very much intrigued by Ved’s completely energetic dedication to his role and his general love for life.

Predictable inevitability strikes when Tara falls in love with Ved, and then spends years pining for him after the trip ends. She eventually tracks him down and the two embark on a more normal, everyday relationship. The plot turns as Tara discovers Ved to be a completely underwhelming and uptight office slave; a complete 180 from the man she spent a week with years ago. Shocking!

Ironically (again) the flaw in writer-director Imtiaz Ali’s depiction of a tortured artist repressed in a day job, is as conventional as that occurrence itself. Through abstract flashbacks and specific glimpses into Ved’s past, Ali tries to show us that he is a creative soul, whose creativity was never nurtured or encouraged, causing him to be the kind of meek and cowardly person he is, caught up in the everyday hustle of adult life.
Movie Review: TAMASHA (2015) - Misunderstood Story Of A Protagonist With Mental Ilness

as Vanilla as vanilla can get…

Once this is revealed, Tara and his relationship implodes as Ved has to deal with the realization that he is not who he thinks he is. This self awareness comes in disturbing incidents of what can only be described as Tourettes during  business meetings, intense mood swings and an intentionally self destructive behavior and a very violent shift in mentality. Yet Ali romanticizes all of this and the audience is meant to sympathize with Ved, despite his obvious mental issues.
 
Tamasha‘ is a great idea; how parental pressure and expectations can affect a young child’s developing personality and social attitudes. It’s an extremely common occurrence that is rarely explored in Bollywood films with the weight that it deserves. Ali however, takes the issue almost too far with a completely left field depiction of the situation. A person trying to discover themselves don’t act like they’re suffering from a mental illness.

‘Tamasha’ is a flawed execution of a tortured artist’s soul repressed by the conventions and expectations of society.


 Strangely enough, the movie feels a lot better, poignant almost, if you watch the whole thing under the assumption that Ved is suffering from an actual mental illness. An earlier song montage shows a young Ved seeing characters from famous stories in his everyday life; hallucinations. When Tara breaks up with him, Ved reacts with inexplicable range of emotions that involve sudden changes in voice and expressions that are almost reminiscent of demonic procession; schizophrenia. Ved’s insistance on literally acting like a completely different person, not for the departure it provides or the excitement of something new, as seems to have been the case for Tara, but more as a necessity, also indicates some sort of multiple personality disorder.

Movie Review: TAMASHA (2015) - Misunderstood Story Of A Protagonist With Mental Ilness

heartbreaking scene…

Even Tara’s reaction after the half way point of the movie, fuels this theory. After breaking up with him, initiating this change within Ved, his bizarre actions cause her to return to him, worried for his well being, willing to stand by him and support him through this obviously turbulent time.
 
Without the mental ilness angle, ‘Tamasha‘ comes off as an extreme overreaction to not being able to pursue the career someone wanted in life. Speaking from experience, not getting parental approval to follow a creative career, more often than not doesn’t cause a mental break, compartmentalizing aspects of one’s personality into different corners of their brain. In comparison, the character played by Shahid Kapoor in Ali’s previous film ‘Jab We Met’, showed a much better example of this character archetype. Or even Ranbir Kapoor’s own portrayal of a lost and creative soul finding himself in Ali’s (again) ‘Rockstar’!
 
While it’s admirable that Ali creates stories about characters for whom the burden of creativity and reconciling their artistic nature creates complications in their lives, the overtly exaggerated manner through which he attempted to depict this in ‘Tamasha’, is full of unnecessary drama and a complete lack of understanding of emotions.

Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad

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