Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone in a Bollywood ‘Tamasha’  

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Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor in 'Tamasha'

Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor in ‘Tamasha’

A Tamasha with Ranbir Kapoor & Deepika Padukone

The hot star team of Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, fabulous foreign locations in Corsica and Tokyo, and A.R. Rahman’s music: ‘Tamasha’ seems to have it all, but the  ‘tamasha’ movie-goers get to see leaves you a tad unfulfilled.

The film, directed by Imtiaz Ali and produced by Sajid Nadiawala, seems to have a lot going for it yet has you hankering for something more satisfying. After all, we’ve all been weaned on love stories and know it when we see the real thing!

Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor in 'Tamasha'

Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor in ‘Tamasha’

Tara (Deepika Padukone) and Ved (Ranbir Kapoor) are two strangers who meet briefly in Corsica and decide to play a game of keeping their real identities secret from each other. So Ved becomes ‘Don’ and Tara is ‘Mona Darling’ –  and what a fun fling they have in Corsica! The two are a visual delight, especially Deepika, who is one of the most beautiful actresses in Bollywood with acting chops to match.  There’s such an electric chemistry between the two (that’s not news!) that your eyes are glued to the screen.

Alas, the fantastic Corsica chapter ends. When they accidentally meet up in India four  years later, Tara is stunned to find Ved is a routine-bound, very average product manager – the dash and free spirit of Don is nowhere to be found. He tells her that the lackluster Ved is the real thing and that Don had just been an act.  Via flashbacks you learn how a young bright-eyed boy who loved theatrics and story-telling has been suppressed by adulthood, the everyday routine world and expectations of family and society.

Tara, however, believes he has quite a different man bottled up inside him and that’s the one she loves and wants to release. There follows a lot of angst till Ved finally figures out who he truly is and that he is responsible for writing the ending to his story.

While thanks to Imtiaz Ali  it’s a very entertaining and visual ride, you don’t leave the theater feeling fully involved. The tag line is ‘Why always the same story?’ – and so is this one, of a young man forced by conservative parents to become an engineer when he’d rather be letting his hair down and be a storyteller. Half the population in India has this dilemma but most don’t become so schizophrenic about it as Ved alias Don does. You can mix and match bits of your personality but with Ved it’s either all or nothing. Did he never act in a school play or college event, if story-telling was his passion? Could the person who is Don at heart really feel no spontaneous wild passion on meeting Tara again?

The conflict seems contrived – not a real battle – as if Ved is shadow-boxing with himself when he doesn’t really need to. Tara’s conflict – being in love with someone who doesn’t really know himself – seems much more real and poignant. I know this is a Bollywood movie but somehow with all the talent involved, one wants more from it.

Stars, check. Foreign locations, check. Musical numbers, check. All fabulous. Story – uh-oh. Not so strong.  Heart – mostly missing.

Yes, the one thing the movie lacks is a heart – and so it cannot really connect to your heart. In spite of spending lots of moolah on this movie, the end result is fun but forgettable. Three days ago I had seen the small budget Tamil movie  ‘Kakaa Muttai’ (‘Crows Egg’) which is shot entirely in the slums of Chennai – so you see garbage piles, rail tracks and the inside of shanty-towns. No overseas tour this but you relate so warmly to the characters and root for them. The story is simple but heart-felt with so much layering, and the viewer is absolutely riveted.

So I guess a big bucks budget is nice when you’re making a movie – but don’t skimp on the story – and the heart.

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Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who writes for several international publications. [email protected] & @lassiwithlavina Sign up for the free newsletter to get your dose of Lassi!

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