There are moments in Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha that are so powerful they pierce you straight in the heart. One such bit comes late in the film, when Deepika Padukone’s character, wracked by guilt and consumed by love, urges Ranbir Kapoor, a man wrestling with his own demons, to forgive her. It’s a scene filled with genuine emotion, and performed with such honesty by both actors, I found myself fighting back tears.

But Tamasha is an uneven film; it oscillates between inventive and indulgent, never quite striking a consistent tone.
 
Ved (Ranbir) and Tara (Deepika) first meet in the sun-kissed French island of Corsica. There’s a connection there, but the pair decides not to tell each other their names, to keep their hands off each other, and to spend their time together play-acting as Don and Mona Darling.
 
Bit of a stretch? You don’t say. But hey, we get some eye-watering photography of the gorgeous island, that great Mattargashti track from AR Rahman, and the crackling chemistry of our leads.
 
Four years later, Tara’s job takes her from Kolkata to Delhi, where they run into each other again. But gone is the free-spirited charmer; Ved is a buttoned-up, straight-laced nine-to-fiver. Nothing like the man Tara fell in love with in Corsica.
 
Imtiaz recycles many of the same ideas he’s pushed in his previous films, and the second half of Tamasha feels like a message movie, except there’s more than one message he’s driving here. The film makes a case for following one’s dream, for living in the moment, for seizing the day. It’s also about the power of love to help one discover one’s true identity.
 
Not every idea is communicated effectively however, and the script – which cuts routinely between the present and the past to explain Ved’s transformation – feels contrived in places. That’s a shame, particularly for a film that celebrates the very craft of storytelling.
 
Expectedly, it’s the affecting performances of Ranbir and Deepika that keep you invested in the film until the end, even when the script feels like it’s going around in circles. Ranbir displays incredible maturity and just the right amount of restraint in a complex part, once again giving proof of his abundant talent. Deepika does the bulk of her work with those big expressive eyes, and conquers challenging scenes with natural ease. She practically steals the film, despite it being Ved’s story essentially.
 
In the end, Tamasha doesn’t come together satisfactorily, but it’s not for a lack of trying. I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five. There’s a lot to appreciate here, and more than a few moments that’ll break your heart.

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