Wednesday, December 09, 2015


A couple weeks after the Fantasia Festival, I was talking with another attendee who was a little bummed out about having missed the Bollywood film (which he shouldn't have been, because it was Singham Returns and thus not good), and I said I don't really love seeing Bollywood stuff there because it's kind of people gawking at the weird thing and laughing at it, and I kind of don't like being that kind of fan.

I kind of still am, though - as much as I go to these movies at Apple Fresh Pond hoping for a bit more of an authentic experience, I hope I'm not just gawking at that, too. I mean, I do repeat the story of the crazy audience for Endhirian fairly often, but I hope I'm coming across as admiring and not patronizing, and I tend to go to these movies to see something different as opposed to a sideshow.

That said... I was surprised while watching it how much I was enjoying Tamasha in the way I enjoyed other movies, noting the way the director put it together and did new things rather than primarily seeing it as this oddity to be experienced. It's still kind of that, because I don't see enough of these movies for them to even be a sort of normal for me, but "interesting" and "unusual" are different if often overlapping things.

Anyway, I was glad I caught this one for reasons beyond being a fan of its female lead and noting that the English bits of her dialogue seem to get a little better in each film, enough that I'll wonder if Deepika Padukone will make the same attempts at Hollywood stardom that Aishwarya Rai and Priyanka Chopra have (although, kudos to Chopra for trying to do it via television, which is a pretty big commitment for someone who is already a star in her home market; I'm genuinely curious whether anybody will try and get fans of Quantico to check out Bajiro Mastani next week). It's a pretty good movie, and also a reminder that there actually are some big rooms in the Fresh Pond cinema, even if the ones upstairs are more deep than wide.


* * * (out of four)
Seen 6 December 2015 in Apple Cinemas Cambridge #1 (first-run, DCP)

It had been a while since I last saw a big Bollywood romantic comedy with singing, dancing, and a little bit of everything, and after seeing Tamasha... Well, it's still been a while since I've seen that sort of movie. I'm not disappointed, because this one uses its post-intermission redirection to go somewhere interesting, and it banks a fair amount of delight before that.

The first place it goes, sort of, is Corsica, where a Hindu tourist (Deepika Padukone) has lost the bag with her wallet and passport and is having trouble finding anybody who speaks English, let alone Hindi, to help her out. Fortunately, there is another tourist nearby who can help, and just as they are are about to introduce themselves to each other, he (Ranbir Kapoor) stops, pointing out that if they do that, it will lead to the same boring conversations they could have back home, and introduces himself as Don, international outlaw. She likes this and calls herself Mona Darling, representative of the criminal kingpin he came to Corsica to meet. They spend a week role-playing and having adventures, until "Mona's" replacement passport arrives. They will, of course, meet again in Delhi, but will Tara Maheshwari feel the same way about Ved Sahni, product manager for a communications technology company?

Like many Indian movies, Tamasha splits fairly easily into two parts,and the first half in this case supplies the fuel for the second. It doesn't take place entirely in Corsica, but the time spent there is a sheer delight. Writer/director Imtiaz Ali recognizes that he's presenting the audience with a fairly kooky scenario, and has the good sense to squeeze every bit of fun from it that he can without pushing it to the point where the audience has any reason to get over practical questions. The beautiful scenery - where it only rains to refresh or give a couple a reason to huddle close under cover - combines with the film's most traditional musical number and even a bit of off-color humor to create an ideal and seductive fantasy world; that some pretty mild jokes are bleeped on the soundtrack or starred-out in the subtitles might even be deliberate rather than the work of a timid censor bureau, a chance for "Don" and "Mona" to act differently than they would at home without incurring any sort of penalty. It's very much the light romantic comedy one might expect, and carries that off very well.

Full review on EFC.

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