Tamasha: Deepika Padukone’s Tara Embodies The Quest For Love And Fulfilment

Tara embodies a person that any of us can be and tells us that courage doesn’t have to be loud
Tamasha: Deepika Padukone’s Tara Embodies The Quest For Love And Fulfilment

Imtiaz Ali is a filmmaker who continually explores a single theme across his body of work. The plots typically revolve around an encounter that causes the protagonist(s) to undergo an existential crisis and seek out lives that are more authentic. Deepika Padukone and Ali's previous outing, Love Aaj Kal, did so under the premise of love. Meera, Padukone's character in Love Aaj Kal, who realises on her honeymoon that 'galti ho gayi', sees this crisis crop up in the form of love and who she chooses to spend her life with. Six years later, we see a more layered and nuanced version of this crisis show up in Tara's life in Tamasha.

Corsica bares itself to the charades of Ved and Tara as they choose pretense over practicality. Padukone's ability to shift seamlessly between Tara and Mona Darling throws us deep into the yearnings of a timid, 'practical' girl who wants to be spontaneous and live with abandon. Throughout her time in Corsica we see Tara truly turn into Mona Darling, a woman who runs through fields and dunks her head into a stream. While what happens in Corsica stays in Corsica, Mona Darling and Don rightly pique the interest of the viewer enough to ask 'What happens after Corsica?'

Tara has enough awareness to ask herself this, the rumination of which we see in her as she leaves for the airport and the scenes preceding her departure. Self awareness is a quiet trait, most often not visible on the surface of those we encounter on a screen for three hours. Yet, Padukone leaves one feeling palpable as she contemplates the consequences of her decisions and Corsica at large. Cut to Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai, we see a beautifully curated montage of the slow creepings of an existential crisis. After having tasted a life that allowed her to live with abandon, we see the shackles of her uninteresting life slowly take back some of the reins. As a continuation of her self-awareness, we see her meek efforts to create a life that can be authentic. There's an unapologetic confidence as she ends a dull relationship, turns away suitors and moves across cities and Tara comes into her own. At the heart of it, my love for Tamasha is rooted in my love for Tara. A woman who is smart enough to recognise the potential her life can have and have the courage to go after it. A courage that's not overt and singular, but accompanied by nervousness and shaky breaths. Tara embodies a person that any of us can be and tells us that courage doesn't have to be loud.

Chased by the feeling that she still can't recreate the magic she previously felt, she seeks out Ved. Her forced casual pretense as she recognises him at a bar, then runs up and down a spiral staircase as that same courage fluctuates, the viewer is left rooting for her. One wants her to take that chance and ask him out, even if he says no. The beauty of this moment is that she's not chasing love, she's chasing fulfilment.

As Ved and Tara begin dating one another, we see her disappointment to see that he's not nearly as brave as she'd like him to be. Here again, with her tentative eyes and half smiles, we see Padukone conveying a growing sadness that the relationship may not be what she sought after all. She sees through his act and confronts him on his defensive pretense. She tries to break through his shell, only to learn that it has to come from within. Staying with him would mean regressing on her own courage. She calls off her relationship with him, not because she doesn't love him, but because she can't risk losing her authentic self anymore.

Cut once again to Agar Tum Saath Ho, one sees the painstaking scene where Tara is willing to forsake her authentic life in order to help Ved escape from the facade he's locked himself into. It broke my heart to watch her, in the weaknesses we all possess, to give up her sense of self in order to help him look for his. She confuses love and fulfilment and assumes one can replace the other.

I'm glad the movie ends the way it does. Ved is pushed to a breaking point where he's forced to reckon with himself and it is only after this that he come back for Tara. More aptly, Don comes back for Mata Hari. He's created his own path to a fulfilling life and seeks Tara, who can understand and seek the same for herself. The two dance to their tunes, side by side, in what is a poetic but fitting close to the film.

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