Tamasha

I am going to take a break from Flipkart to write a pseudo movie review about a film that I saw today. Its not that it affected me so deeply that I am considering changing professions, but I was impressed with where Indian cinema has come in the last couple of decades. I saw only a handful of movies growing up in Bombay, and in those days the excitement of being able to go to the theater trumped the abysmal quality of the movie. Most of my Bollywood experience is from watching movies back home in US, and it was seeped in two themes — The grand NRI love stories of SRK and the annual pilgrimage to watch Aamir Khan movies with their above average stories and reasonable acting.

Cut to today, and its a bit of a different time altogether. First of the all, at least some of the theaters look like this…

Well not all of them, but the absolute high end is downright gorgeous. Its not the same thing as sitting in the single screen theaters of 90s among the coin-throwing, whistling hordes, but this sure has its own advantages.

Back to the movie. Tamasha is another one of those coming-of-age movies that are becoming de-rigueur in India these days. The story is pretty straightforward really. In fact, its the new Bollywood template. Boy/Girl/Both meet in a foreign locale, they fall in love. In a new age gender reversal of sorts, the girl makes the move, something intervenes and they are back to their mundane lives back home where things are generally broken and … umm real. The rest of the movie is figuring out how to get these puppies back together.

But I thought this movie had way more depth. The director probably knew that the audience will anticipate the plot, and so the first part shot in gorgeous Corsica was almost matter-of-fact, the chemistry between the leads so palpable that the director did away with the story, and let them just hang out around each other. I spent the first half trying to figure out where the movie was going. And then the eminently better second half came to fore. My profession must be coming of age too, since the boy turned out to be a boring product manager, and the girl realized that she was in love with a different person, perhaps not with a person but a concept that she left behind in France.

Which one was the real relationship? The one in technicolor Corsica or the one in grey Delhi. When we hold on to the best of our memories, do we cast a shadow on those that we create everyday? Who is the real us? The one that we put on when we go to work everyday amidst the pressures of our everyday life, or the one we display when we are jumping around in the rain with our friends?

The rest of the movie tries to answer that. Regardless of the subtle plot flaws, and some simplification towards the end, I found these questions interesting and for that I credit Tamasha and its makers. In the end there were so many layers to the story that I left the theatre unsure if the director was confused or whether he really intended to put all these threads together. But even so, the movie gave me a lot more to think about than any average Bollywood fare, and is worth a watch.

Back to the world we operate in, and I feel that our lives are full of this race to win something. Sometimes its money, sometimes fame, sometimes power. We think we run behind things that we care for, but deep down its almost always defined by the society around us. But most keep running and few notice the subtle schizophrenia between that race and the other lives that we live among our friends, family and loved ones.

If someone can break away from that bipolarity and find their true calling like the hero of the aforementioned movie, then they can call themselves successful. But trust me, more often that not, that person is not showing up on the front page of Forbes, or in the list of billionaires. They are driven by something else. The happiest people in the world are incognito. And that is a shame. There would be so much to learn from them.

But its cool. Its all a Tamasha anyways.