Tamasha tells the story of a man called Ved. Of course, there is a woman too, the love interest. In recent times, Imtiaz Ali’s movies have been the subject of many memes saying that the story always shows a troubled man who has to be rescued by a woman, and that that is really the only role she plays in the movie. But in the case of Tamasha, we see Tara’s side of the story too, and though it is mostly in the span of one song, the film uses ‘Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai’ as a superb narrative element to take us through Tara’s journey after meeting and losing Ved.
On the face of it, ‘Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai’ is a peppy number. It has Mika Singh’s breezy vocals and a vibrant, folksy beat. But the lyrics tell a different story. The woman it talks about has a sadness that lies below the surface of everything she does. As the song puts it, very simply, ‘Heer toh badi sad hai, aaj kal very bad hai’.
But the Heer in question, Tara, is no simple brooding Juliet. She has a thriving career and material comforts; she has a family to come back to every day; and she has a social life outside of these. She even has moments of joy that no one else is privy to, when she dances in her bedroom to music played on headphones or eats cake on the balcony in solitude with a big smile on her face. But there is a sense of incompleteness that she knows has entered her life ever since Ved left it, one that Deepika Padukone expresses magnificently through her eyes and nothing else.
Even though the song is about Tara, it also tells the story of most modern women. The void that Ved left behind in Tara’s life may be something else for someone else—a lack of creative fulfilment; not being appreciated at the workplace; not having an honest friendship where she can truly be herself; or, as in Tara’s case, the lack of a significant other who truly understands her. All these Taras and Heers have one thing in common though—they all have something brewing inside them like the pressure cooker that their brains are stewing in.
In the movie, the song ends with Tara entering a joint in Ved’s city, where she thinks it likely to run into him. She is eventually successful in her attempt but has other challenges lying ahead of her. And perhaps that is how it is for all of us. We can take whatever steps we deem fit to correct a situation but there is always another hurdle to overcome, making sure that we are never at that imaginary pinnacle of pure happiness. Heer may not always be ‘badi sad’ but she still is somewhat sad and is also occasionally ‘very mad’ at something or the other.
Imtiaz Ali uses songs effectively to take us through years or months of a character’s journey—‘Main Kya Hoon’ in Love Aaj Kal shows Jai’s journey from elation to loneliness and ‘Aaoge Jab Tum’ in Jab We Met shows Geet’s desolate life after Anshuman spurns her. But there was something very specific in those songs which made for great viewing without my feeling the characters’ feelings. ‘Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai’ is different because it shows Tara allowing herself a few nuggets of genuine happiness through the everyday things in life despite her looming sadness, something that has become even more relatable with the several restrictions imposed by the pandemic.
And so, while Tara’s story is a microcosm within Ved’s larger story in Tamasha, ‘Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai’ takes on a life of its own, possibly becoming the daily soundtrack to the life of woman everywhere.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.