Saturday, April 16, 2016

Tamasha—Of Rushing Up and Down the Stairs

One of my absolutely favorite moments in Imtiaz Ali's Tamasha is the scene when Tara (Deepika Padukone) is reading Joseph Heller's Catch-22 at Social, and in her heart, she is waiting for Ved (Ranbir Kapoor) to show up. One day, he, finally, turns up, and she is thrilled. When she sees him sitting behind her, a smile comes up on her face, but deep inside, she is elated. Her wait has ended, and she is bursting with happiness, but she cannot share this moment with anyone. She immediately goes downstairs, trying to pretend as if nothing has happened. She pauses downstairs, then, comes back up, and again, rushes downstairs. This time she lets out an even bigger smile, and that smile has relief and ecstasy. She rushes up back again, and composes herself to show that everything is normal. The beats of Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai play in the background, and the scene conveys her emotions splendidly. It gives me so much joy to see that scene again and again, and I start smiling to myself. I have never experienced this feeling, but seeing Tara's emotions, it is as if this thing is happening to me. I started to think about her other scenes. Interestingly, there is another similar scene in the beginning of the film. When she is about to leave Corsica, she surreptitiously goes downstairs without saying a goodbye to Ved, but again comes back up. She goes to Ved's room, and they sleep together, and then, she comes back downstairs again. The song Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai starts playing. Again, something similar happens in the final scene in the tea conference in Japan. When she sees the ring on a tea cup, she rushes to the elevator, but it closes, and then she takes the stairs. She goes out and sees no one, and comes back up. This time, she meets Ved, and they finally spoke like they did in Corsica. In a deleted scene that follows this, Tara and Ved come back down. Immediately, before this scene, the beats of Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai had played, when the storyteller baba told the young Ved the story about Ranjha going to meet Heer. In all the three cases of rushing up and down, Tara finds Ved in some way or the other and meets him. Chronologically, when she rushes back to his room before leaving Corsica, Tara meets Ved physically in a sexual way. Second time, she meets the real Ved physically at Social after waiting for him for years. Finally, she meets Ved-Don in Japan physically again and also emotionally. In all three cases, Tara experiences happiness, even though the song talks about Heer's sadness. In fact, the film is full of scenes of Tara taking the stairs. Her house is full of stairs. When Ved and Tara sing Matargashti, there is a gorgeous scene of them together on the stairs. In Corsica, she is often seen near the stairs, and they sit near the stairs. They take the stairs together to her room, They take the stairs on the road. In a scene in which they go to watch a movie in Delhi, they are again seen taking the stairs. On the other hand, we don't see many scenes of Ved near the stairs alone except when he in his house in Shimla when he is young, and when he finally confronts his father about his life. Otherwise, he takes the elevator daily in his office. I am not sure if it was really intentional or not, but there is nothing that I can say with certainty about directorial intent. Perhaps, it has something to do being Tara being the guiding star to Ved to the ups and downs in life. The only connection that I could gather was that in one of the interviews regarding the making of the film (video link below), Deepika describes Tara as someone who is fast, and takes small steps. She is also seen near the stairs, perhaps, it has something to do with it. Of course, this may not mean mean much, but I was very curious, by the constant rushing up and down, and the number of such scenes that could have been edited out. Else, just listen to the gem of a song Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai again for its sheer uplifting quality :)

Oh, that realization and that magical feeling

He takes an elevator 

Tara takes small steps

Other Reading:
1. On Tamasha (link)
2. On Agar Tum Saath Ho (link)

Dialogue of the Day:
"Na khaati peeti.
Rona dhona mushkil.
Pyar ki loo mein itni jal gayi,
Loo meain jaana mushkil hai,

Loo meain jaana mushkil hai."
—Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai, Tamasha


  1. Hi Pankaj!
    Loved this piece!! Tamasha is so meticulously detailed, it makes you wonder how thrilling the process of crafting it would have been. I wish I could get a peek inside Imtiaz's brain, that guy's a genius. Speaking of which, have you figured out why did the climax take place in Japan? I've watched that scene along with the deleted ending several times yet haven't been able to decipher anything. Maybe I have to watch it again. Lemme know if you've found something. Also, would absolutely love to chat about movies with you!!

  2. Hi Vinay,
    Thanks. I had thought about Japan a lot but could not come up with an explanation. Ved and Tara meet in Japan at a tea conference where the building's board says Oracle. Japan is a place known for its robotic mechanization, and efficiency. Perhaps, that has something to do with it. They are at peace in Japan and have found love in Tokyo.
    I also found someone mentioned online that perhaps it is a tribute to Love in Simla and Love in Tokyo to Joy Mukherjee.

    Any time ready to talk about movies :)


  3. the down stair thing is so awesome.. only you can see this .. loved it..


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