Tamasha: In A Film About Ved, I Couldn’t Take My Eyes Off Deepika Padukone’s Tara

While I might not have felt understood by the film, I felt understood by Tara because of the life Deepika Padukone breathed into the character
Tamasha: In A Film About Ved, I Couldn’t Take My Eyes Off Deepika Padukone’s Tara

When Tamasha was released, I watched it with a big group of people which included my best friend Amna. Walking out of the theatre after the film had ended, both of us had starkly different opinions about the film: while Amna had felt seen, heard, and understood by Imtiaz Ali, I had felt deeply disconnected from the message he was trying to get across.

Being an avid Imtiaz Ali fan, needless to say, I was quite disappointed. As the years passed by, I continued to nurse my dislike for Tamasha, making these feelings more than apparent to Amna every time the topic of Tamasha or even Imtiaz Ali popped up in our conversations. This only led to her trying all the more harder to convince me to give one of her favourite films another chance.

Recently, during one of our classic Imtiaz Ali fangirl conversations, Amna said to me: "There aren't many characters in the films that I've watched whose lives I would like to know more about, beyond what has been already portrayed on screen, but it's not like that with Tara from Tamasha: I want to know about her childhood, and why 'Asterix in Corsica' was her favourite comic; I want to know what sort of person she was before she fell in love with Ved in Corsica; I want to know how she felt when she began realising that the Ved she was dating in Delhi was not the Ved she met in Corsica; I want to know about her inner turmoil in the days leading upto the iconic scene where Agar Tum Saath Ho plays, when she confesses to wanting Ved back even if he's not the Ved she fell in love with; simply put, I want to know everything and more about her, I want to know her story."

Upon hearing Amna's monologue, I was intrigued. I decided to give Tamasha another shot, but quite regrettably, even after my rewatch, I still don't like the film very much. While I understand what Imtiaz Ali was trying to do and say with the film a lot more than I did before, I'm still not able to connect with the film the way Amna and so many of Tamasha's fans have.

However, there was something, rather someone, who I felt immensely connected with in the film, and that was Tara. I realised that Amna, in her monologue, had been onto something. Tara was so fascinating and I simply could not understand why: in a film about Ranbir Kapoor's Ved, why was I so obsessed with Deepika Padukone's Tara?

I decided to look for an answer by scouring various blog posts dedicated to reviewing and analysing Tamasha and interviews of the cast of the film. However, rather poetically, I got my answer from Imtiaz Ali himself, as part of the 'Inside A Scene' segment that he did with Film Companion for the film. About 7 minutes 14 seconds into the video, while talking about feelings of nakedness and shame being prevalent in Ved's outburst at Tara in the moments leading up to Agar Tum Saath Ho playing, Ali says about Tara:

"A modern girl, why would she take this shit? But then, why would any woman take shit? But she is, and she can't even help it. That's shameful itself."

At that moment, hearing Ali uttering these words, I knew why Tara was so much more important to me than Ved, in a story about the latter: I love people close to me exactly the way Tara loves Ved, especially in that scene.

Just like Tara, I love them with just as much, if not more, intensity and desperation and vulnerability. Just like Tara, I've said things like, "I promise main sab theek kar doongi", to have them be a part of my life even if it's in some unsatisfactory capacity. Just like Tara, I've lost myself in them, brought out and seen their true self, and wanted to run after them when they've run away from me, especially if it's because I've hurt them. Just like Tara, I've taken their shit, probably a lot more than I should have. Just like Tara, there is Dhanya, and she can't help it either.

While I might not have felt understood by the film, I felt understood by Tara, and the main reason Tara came across the way she did, was because of the life Deepika Padukone had breathed into the character with her acting. In fact, in numerous scenes, where Ved was doing most of the talking, I was unable to take my eyes off of Tara.

While books often span pages describing how a character feels in a particular moment, actors in a film have the daunting task of portraying what their character is thinking merely through their expressions. Deepika has an uncanny knack for doing this, and I cannot think of a better scene to illustrate my point than Tara reacting to Ved first proposing that they lie to each other about their real identities.

Initially, there's curiosity mixed with mild concern on Tara's face, upon hearing this stranger suggesting something so incredulous, especially considering the fact that they are in a foreign country where nobody speaks english, she is all alone, and she has lost that one "bag jo kabhi nahi khona chahiye" But ultimately, her face lights up with excitement when she hears Ved say "Don!" Somehow she can't help but trust him and their connection is instantaneous. Oh, and the most striking part of this? These vastly different feelings come through one after another on Tara's face in a matter of seconds, blending seamlessly into each other yet leaving their individual impact.

In fact, Deepika's range as an actor comes through in so many other moments in the film as well, with a couple of my personal favourites being: the way Tara says "So, this is it, huh? This is what they say, love and all?" when her and Ved are at the entrance to a cinema hall, and you can see that she's excited to finally be with him but its slowly creeping up on her that something about him and them feels off; and the way Tara utters the word 'complex' while confronting Ved, almost knowing that with this single word she'll be detonating the ticking time bomb that Ved is but hopelessly failing at coming up with an alternative. It would not be too bold of me to say here that Deepika Padukone is a force to be reckoned with and will go down in Bollywood history as one of its finest gems.

And now, having said everything I had to say, the most fitting way for me to end this piece would be by saying that Amna and I will continue to hope, even if its irrational, that Imtiaz Ali will make a sequel to Tamasha and one day, give us the story of our beloved Tara.

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