Talaash tries to tackle a lot of societal issues. It is a story of doctors. Yet, it ends with cousin marriage. How did that not register in the minds of the scriptwriter, the director, or anyone with a stake in the film is simply incomprehensible.
As difficult as it is to get past that, there are certainly some good things about the film. The three doctors played by Noaman Sami (Khurram), Fariya Hassan (Tania) and Ahmad Zeb (Saleem) all impress with their performances. Especially the lead pair Noaman Sami and Fariya could do well in a romantic film. It is one of the main conflicts in the film and there was plenty of room to go overboard with melodrama. But both show restraint in their actions, which for two newcomers would have difficult to manage. Noaman Sami has a little bit of early Fahad Mustafa like quiet about him, which is always welcome. Saleem Meiraj and Mustafa Qureshi are two proven performances and it shows. Meiraj is especially having lots of fun as a wadera.
There are a few characters who are present to move the narrative forward. Adnan Shah Tipu’s while fun also add emotional weight to the film. The local daie, who had come out of the Sanjay Leela Bhansali universe does well to create a monster. The fight sequence we see of a glimpse of in the trailer has a fun twist and earn the most laughs in the cinema. Production quality is praiseworthy. The DOP has captured rural Sindh quite well. The one wedding song in the film is extremely well done, especially in comparison to what we generally see in Pakistani films. Perhaps most importantly, director Zeekay closes off the story nicely with no strings left untied.
Yet there are issues with the film. The script tries to marry numerous social messages with a love triangle of sorts. There is an over-enthusiastic attempt at including comedy, which lands rarely. These doctors distressed at the situation in Thar, decided to set up a camp at one of the affected villages. Tania and Saleem, travel together as the rest of the crew joins them later. Here, they get caught up between a progressive and “evil” wadera. The love angle conveniently fits in this setup.
The role played by Tania is perhaps inspired by Amir Khan’s PK. Someone who comes from outer space and is amazed at the ways of the world. However, when Tania decides to wear ripped jeans and almost a tank top to a village, it looks absurd. Yes, the problem is with the people ogling and not her, but would any girl, no matter how ‘posh’, would visit interior in that kind of ‘appearance’, I leave that to your judgement. Her self-righteous tone throughout the film is a bit bizarre for a grown woman who has at least spent five years of her college in Karachi. What’s more, she gets away with it, always.
The comedy is also a bit overdone. Saleem’ addiction with selfies becomes more annoying each time it is forced in a scene (a lot of times). The doctor’s boss has the habit of winking randomly and that appears to be his sole purpose in the film. A girl exists to try to entice Saleem with throw away one-liners. While another is there to respond sarcastically to her lines. This eats up a lot of the time of the film and achieves little. To add to this some serious scenes have been diluted with forced comedic lines when the situation demand for them to be serious. Another peculiar angle of the story of is it’s tiptoeing around the issue of waderas. The generous and kind wadera has a palace, organizing extravagant marriages as kids who died of malnutrition are buried outside. It’s bizarre.
The target market perhaps should be rural areas, where they could actually benefit from learning some of the things mentioned in the movie. As opposed to the urban audience who has some (I repeat: some) level of access to health care. Anyhow, given our sunsan cinemas, it’s a film you could watch for its performances.