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Tamasha (2015)

CRUMBLIES… 4 crumblies

Vibrant Vinay knew old Jack here was feeling a bit down. Medical arsery and winter skies are a lousy combination. Young Steve, and even Jacketta and the micro Jacks (generation 3, as I like to think of them), have visited a fair few times, but they don’t have the insight of the Vinster. He understands. And so to Tamasha.

This is a clever film, cleverly made. It tells three stories and intertwines them beautifully. We have a boy, learning the magic and power of stories. We have him as a young man, wandering Corsica with the most beautiful woman on the planet, falling in a kind of love as they knowingly adopt false personalities – the truth never told – and cheer each other along until love blossoms. And then, a few years later, when they meet again and reality gnashes brutally at the story they once wove together. Tamasha (it means spectacle) is everything to salve the soul of an old romantic.

The boy’s story is the simplest. He meets an ancient story-teller on the road and basks in his inconsistencies and the power of invention. You’ll love the wonder of these years, says life.

The Corsica stuff is gorgeous. It is about that boy made man, but with invention intact. Ranbir Kapoor is Ved, or ‘Don!’, and a cheery chap with thoughts like crazy paving, at once bouncy,  charming and fun. He flirts around Tara, the also-joyous Deepika Padukone, and their romance is born in sunshine, rocks and holiday. If I’m honest, I wasn’t sure about Kapoor in these early scenes. Every so often, things seem forced. Vinay said I was talking out of my newly medicated arse and just to wait…and Kapoor took the craziness to at least two wholly unexpected places…

Years pass. The re-meet is of adults not kids at play. Oh, that snagged at old Jack’s heart. Remember those moments when life lost its inventiveness and fun? All those times with stern teachers, earnest colleagues or blank faces and coffins. Tara and Ved, both in proper jobs, meet a few years later. Neither have found true happiness, each lost in work and remembering that week of identity games. And – as you’d expect – disjointedness and pain erupts. They want to hit it off again, but Ved is really an earnest man held in place by his Dad’s ambitions. Ditto, though less so, Padukone’s less damaged, truer Tara.

And the inevitable happens. To find each other again, there is break-up, breakdown, a long walk of life and personality. Kapoor is properly engaging as he fights out of an uptight truth into the living-lifer he was on Corsica. Padukone balances this with a terrifically accessible sadness and hope. She is patient.

The film, for old Jack here, flipped around two key moments: Ved facing his Dad and earning the right to tell stories for himself (for we old men must learn to let our youngsters live their best lives…); and a sort-of pantomime, Padukone and Kapoor hidden behind garish costumes, as stage silents, playing out the angst of those trapped in the quiet desperation of normal life.

If you’re down, jump in. Tamasha is a lovely film. Imperfect, surely, but in the moment I needed it most, it kicked off some emotional scabs and let me – as much its heroes – grow.

Stories are our friends. They refresh us. So knows Vinay.

Did I mention it’s funny?

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