Starring Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, and Rani Mukerji. Rated PG
With many elements of film noir, Reema Kagti’s Talaash is a subtle, nuanced, and captivating film. It begins as a police procedural that slowly unravels the murky ways in which the lives of the very rich and the very poor are tangled and interdependent.
Aamir Khan is pitch perfect as middle-class police inspector, Surjan Shekhawat, whose new case involves the untimely death of a rising young Bollywood star. He is also a father mourning the accidental death of his young son. Rani Mukerji, in a role that confirms her wonderful maturation as an actress, plays his grieving wife. In the course of his investigation he meets Rosie (Kareena Kapoor), a femme fatale and a sex-trade worker, who may have exclusive insight into the case.
Surjan and Rosie form a bond, and through her guidance he begins to understand his case and the casual injustice that underpins any urban society. A scene in which Rosie details the routine indifference of the police to missing sex-trade workers might particularly resonate with Vancouver viewers.
The power of this film is in its acting. From the three main leads to the multiple character actors who fill out the sub-plots, each performance is delivered with skill and precision. The pace is slow, but as tension builds, you don’t want to look away.
The music, with lyrics penned by the great Javed Akhtar, is all off-screen, taking nothing away from the tone of gritty realism. Final song, “Laakh Duniya Kahe”, is the stand out number and ties the emotive threads of the film together.
The last fifteen minutes of the film are nearly without dialogue and contain one of Aamir Khan’s best performances. This is a film that is as unexpected as it is unforgettable.