Tashan – A Late Review May 5, 2008Posted by astralwicks in art, Blogging, Culture, Directing, Films, india, Movies, Personal, Reviews, Tashan, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Writing.
Tags: Bollywood, Hindi films 2008, review of Tashan, Saif-Kareena in Tashan, small town india in Bollywood, Tashan review, Yash Raj Films
I watched Tashan a few days back. Since then some people have been waiting for my review of it. Not that people are dying to read it but general friendliness I guess. Also they want to save a few hundred bucks, I feel.
Anyways I was accompanied by very generous friends. 3 of them had already watched it and encouraged me through the week to watch it, so that they can accompany me. Strange, but I am grateful to them.
It was playing at Chandan. Everybody in Mumbai knows about Chandan. A mammoth single-screen theater with close to 1300 seats per show. If it runs at Chandan we know it’s a hit. Simple.
I was told that the film was not doing good at the window. It has a stellar cast. The twosome of Saif – Kareena, Akshay and Anil Kapoor. Nowadays you either love or hate the Yash Raj banner and their kind of films.
The grime, angst and violence of papa Yash has been replaced with the aesthetic of an India shining. Papa Yash also liked white chiffon, which has been updated with you-name-it yuppie Brands of a shrinking world. There stories are of a successful India or of an emerging India. India of the small town or village with dreams in their eyes. A Kanpur here or an Indore there. Lovable rascals from small town India whom you can laugh at initially and then laugh with is the new Yash Raj formula. Banti aur Babli being the zenith.
Coming back to Tashan. Tashan means ‘attitude’. Tashan’s one line is ‘attitude’. It is also the sacred ‘one line’ of the film. The one line that runs through and through the script, from beginning to end, through the 3 Acts. Therein lies the rub.
A film about attitude still has to have a story. Here is the story. 3 people each in love with the other, have to cheat each other to survive. Interesting! Very gripping in fact. Could have been fodder for great cinema. But doesn’t happen in this case.
Tashan doesn’t work because – it is not a story of lost and found love (Akshay and Kareena).
It doesn’t work because it is not even a buddy movie (Akshay and Saif) in the mould of Main Khiladi Tu Anari. Saif in Tashan is reduced to a side-kick.
It is not a revenge drama (Kareena’s story).
It doesn’t work because it is not even a ménage a trios (Saif falls for Kareena; Kareena cheats Saif; Kareena wants to cheat Akshay; Akshay falls for Kareena; Kareena realizes her love for Akshay; Saif realizes that Akshay and Kareena are old, childhood lovers).
Why does this happen? We as audiences in the dark are always sympathetic to people, in this case, heroes and heroines, in love. But not in this case. Is Tashan projecting a world view where there are no morals, only self-interest. Yes. We cannot deny that the world we currently inhabit is ruthless. Is it a nihilist film? Obviously not. Because the film makers don’t know what nihilism is!
The realization of love in a selfish world is a great moment in the sacred dark of the cinema hall. Akshay Kumar, in fact, moves us, briefly, in the boat scene, because, he makes us see his humanity, his weakness. It never happens again.
That is the fatal flaw of Tashan. Attitude has to have an audience. And Tashan has none. Because Tashan’s attitude is borne out of the film maker’s conviction that ‘attitude is all’. It has no reigns, no dynamics, no parameters, other than the Yash Raj paradigm of glitz, glamour, oomph, pyrotechnics and loudness.
Growing up, we believed in heroes and villains. Even the cardboard kind with their ‘addas’ and molls. In Tashan the over the top is defined as ‘attitude’. It is so over the top that it becomes spoofy. You don’t believe in any of them. Not the heroes or the villains. Till the end the audience might be fooled that all of them, including Anil Kapoor are on the same side or playing a stupid game to fool us – the stupid audience.
Mr. Acharya had previously written the two immensely successful Dhooms. Films that have no semblance of a plot, movement etc. Star driven vehicles that work because of no particular reason.
Well there are reasons – Aishwarya in a bikini, Bipasha in a bikini and the two of them in a semi-naked state in the rest of the film. Not to forget the males – Hrithik and Bachchan. Then there is action, which is good by Indian standards and bad internationally and the ever-present songs. These hits don’t stay with you. It is not even like Jab We Met, which still makes you smile, laugh or cry honestly.
In one way Yash Raj has perfected the art of the emotionless Blockbuster, just like Hollywood. No memories after the exit and popcorn.
Tashan might not even be a success. Time to evaluate the stable’s weaknesses. Time to step down from the pedestal. Time to realize that small and subtle can have attitude also. Time to realize that attitude doesn’t need to be rammed down. If it’s real, it will stick.