Had it been released any other year, Talaash would've probably been the best film of the year. Lucky for us the audience, the year was 2012, which gave us another excellent Hindi mystery thriller, Kahaani. It's difficult not to talk about the two films in conjunction with one another, as they both involve an urban setting, a main character trying to piece together what seems like an unsolvable mystery, a plot twist and attempt to hood-wink the audience into not seeing that twist coming. They're also both films you're best knowing the most minimal amount of premise, going in.
So here's what I'll say about the plot - things you can piece together from the first trailers, which hit the internet about a year ago: a man drives off into the sea on an entire empty road, for no apparent reason. A police man (Aamir Khan) tries to piece together what happened, while growing distant from his wife (Rani Mukherjee) and running into the lady of the night, Rosie (Kareena Kapoor), who helps him try to solve the mystery.
I will try to discuss the film without revealing spoilers, but you're very sensitive to this sort of thing (I know I am!), you may want to stop reading now.
Talaash is a finely made movie with competent direction, littered with strong performances (from the heart-wrenching one from Rani Mukherjee to the crooked yet sympathetic character portrayed by Nawazuddin Siddiqui). It's definitely a step up from Reema Kagti's debut, Honeymoon Tavels Pvt Ltd, which was adorable but not too ambitious. As such, it's hard to phrase why the film doesn't really make it into my favourites. It's got so many things going for it, from the performances to the themes it portrays (which I cannot really discuss without going into spoilers), to the excellent cinematography. Going into it, I didn't know much, but I was expecting a lot - that's what tends to happen when three of one's favourites are shoved into the same film, with a promising premise. I'm not quite sure if the film delivered on all the things I really wanted it to.
I suppose one factor was the relatively slow pace of the middle third of the film. As a viewer, you're trying to put together the same mystery Aamir's Surjan is attempting to solve, but coming up with very little. I wasn't really at my sharpest when watching, so perhaps I could've seen the twist coming, had I concentrated a little more, but by the time the film got to its half-way mark, I found myself as frustrated as Surjan seemed to be. Things just weren't adding up in a satisfying manner, and the film began to feel a bit boring. I was fine with the twist, when it arrived - it seemed strangely fitting, and I didn't mind the aspect it added to the film. I figured it out, I suspect, exactly at the moment the director wanted me to figure it out, considerably before Surjan does, but not so early as to ruin the discovery.
So what I was left with was "just" a good film. When put up next to the crop of other good films, Talaash definitely stands out as a good film, but not so overwhelmingly strong that I'd say I loved it. I also wasn't so personally moved by as to call it a favourite. But worth seeing, especially if you like any of the three big stars in the main cast? Absolutely.