Every Indian has now become used to the story-telling of Hindi movies. Sometimes some one from the audience tries to ask that why are we seeing the same thing every single time in the exact same way. Isn’t there anything more to it?
As soon as you ask that a huge uproar of voices muffle yours in order to protect their idols and their heroes.
Here I am safe and you, as a reader, are safe too. Nobody to judge. Just a little analysis over a movie which I loved but was panned by the masses and even forced the actors to return a part of the profits to the distributors. Now, there lies the difference.I don’t care how much a movie earns. I was extremely glad that it got made and I didn’t understand it then, but Tamasha brought a change to the manner in which a story is told to the viewers. I was very moved due to some reason and I defend the movie whenever someone says it’s garbage. For 2 straight years I did that about various aspects of the movie and unknowingly I created a compilation of the various aspects that the movie has which is radically different from other mainstream movies.
Now please keep this in mind that I am no expert. I have watched movies. I have watched videos of LFTS, Folding Ideas, Every frame a painting, Now you see it, Chris Stuckmann and Nerdwriter1 and all my knowledge is based on what I’ve perceived from these videos. I maybe completely off the rails and completely wrong about what I am explaining but I’ll leave that for you to judge.
Basically, Ved suffers from dual personality disorder. One is of Don and the other is of the corporate guy. Now this could have been done in a very linear fashion by using dialogue, exposition and other characters explaining what the current state of the character is. Imtiaz Ali takes a different route. With the help of S. Ravi Varman, Ali uses each and every frame to showcase in which frame of mind the character is.
First, let me get rid of the simple analogies. Let’s follow one story that the story-teller tells us and that is of Ram-Sita-Ravan. Here Ram is Ved himself. He is the rajkumar of the story and this shot establishes it that Ved is the main focus of the movie and how he wishes to be and that is a Hero.
Sita, is the personification of Ved’s dreams, love and everything he wishes to achieve. Raavan is obviously the villain and the personification of every obstruction that he faces on his route to achieve his dreams. That can be established because Raavan was shown very early in the movie and reappears when Ved’s boss attacks him. That establishes the fact the subconsciously Ved saw his Boss, not as an inspiration but as the obstruction.
The mirror scenes were something. The usage of Ved’s conversation with the mirror is his confrontation with his inner self or his original self. It begins right from his childhood after he is reprimanded for his low scores. This shot down here shows that he has already started the procedure of creating an alternate self.
Then, during his teenage years after he faces his father and confesses about his shortcomings he fully sets into motion of creating an alternate self and I say that because every single reflection is complete unlike the previous one where they weren’t complete. The most unique feature about this shot is that I haven’t been able to figure out where the camera is.
Now as Ved’s corporate life starts he never talks with the mirror, which means that he isn’t stopping to think that whether he likes what he is doing or not. He completely shuts down his innocent self and due to that he only sees how he looks and whether he is presentable or not.
After he gets rejected, his entire psyche suffers a breakdown. He used to think very highly of himself because according to him he had created the perfect human being and that’s why he just couldn’t accept that Tara has rejected his proposal. That is why after his meltdown, when his boss asks him that whether something is wrong with him you can see that his reflection can be seen on the glass behind his boss. Now this could be completely wrong but the reason why I think this is intentional is because Ved’s reflection isn’t shown anywhere until that point.
Another scene, which proves my theory is when Ved has his 1st fight with Tara at her apartment and then leaves in an auto. In the auto he gets into an one-on-one with the driver. He talks very honestly to the driver and there again you can see his reflection in the auto’s mirror, as if his inner self is trying to come out of this false image of Ved.
During this process, Ved begins to interact with his mirror. It’s a war that the two personalities are waging against each other. You can deduce that because every conversation ends with the “corporate” self making a retort at the “Don” image.
FRAMING and PERSPECTIVE:
This is what I suppose what built the corporate Ved and it was necessary because corporate Ved is stubborn. He puts a leash on himself. He confines himself to feeling certain emotions and that is why we see him through small scopes. I don’t know the technical term for it so please, maaf kar do. I am marking them so that you can see that whenever the director intends to show Ved in his corporate image or in a situation where he is trying to conform to the norms, he uses these methods of framing the character. I am marking them with a red frame.
Tara suffers due to this relationship with Ved. The moment where she falls in love is depicted with her picking up the book “Catch 22”. The exact definition of Catch 22 is “a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions”. It’s like a foreboding of what is about to come. As Deepika’s character is an expert in dual-personality disorder, she understands the situation she has put herself into. Due to that we constantly see her in a proverbial jail. I know, she isn’t shown to be in a jail but very often her character is shown through parallel lines which is a reference to a jail. The jail which she has put herself in due to love. I’m marking it with white just so that it is visible.
Coming to Ved’s perspective. As most of the movie relies on the corporate Ved, the director allows us to see what he sees and he has a very narrow view of the world. This is shown through Ved’s car. Till Ved breaks out of his own self, we get to see only a part of Ved’s car. Clean, neat and tidy just like Ved. Doesn’t it bother you that we can only see a part of the car?
After Ved’s final break out of his former self we get to see the state his car is really in. It tells a story in itself. The story that Ved has a very narrow view of the world. He only cares about the part through which he has to see. Only when he breaks out is the moment we get into close-ups of his car and also inside the car.
SHOT and REVERSE-SHOT:
The most boring way of showing conversation is shot and reverse-shot. You might be thinking what the hell that is but don’t worry. I learned this a few months ago. It is the technique where the two or more characters are in conversation and the camera swings between the characters who are speaking. In Tamasha, it is used in a very unconventional way. When Tara and Ved are speaking as themselves there is an establishing shot which shows where they are. Then the camera swivels between the two but when Tara is speaking to the Ved who is not himself, the camera goes into a jarring close-up. We are expecting a certain reaction because our minds are programmed to gauge a reaction but the close-up allows us to see something completely different. An abnormal reaction or emotion.
In the above image, you see how excited Tara is but then the jarring close-up shows the lack of emotion in Ved. This happens again when Ved says “I love you” to Tara.
Only when Ved and Tara are being honest with each other, meaning Ved is seeing Tara as he wants her and when Tara sees Ved in his original self the conventional shot and reverse-shot is done. Or else it isn’t used at all.
The use of this technique doesn’t only apply to show the relationship status of Ved and Tara but also to show the mental status of Ved at his workplace. During the final meltdown scene the camera jumps from the small frame with Ved and his boss and to a much larger frame. My deduction is that the small frame depicts Ved’s urge to work in this office and the large frame is when “Don” tells him to escape and chase his dreams. When he is shouting and pleading the camera once goes to the small frame. That confused me.
But, once he gets on the table, Imtiaz establishes that now there is no turning back, now there is no corporate Ved. Now there is only one way left and that is to become Don.
I think most of you will scroll down to this part directly. Some of you might have left already but what the hell. This is my favourite aspect of the movie and that is the usage of the skyline.
Sky is always linked with freedom or openness. So when Ved is in his corporate self the sky isn’t shown. Don’t believe me? Go watch the movie. It shows that Ved doesn’t care about the outside world or the concept of freedom and being open is dead.
All the shots are from an angle where we can’t see the sky. Even if he is in the open that gives a sense of claustrophobia. The office ceiling also acts like a lid on Ved’s life.
When he was an innocent kid he had a more open view of the world. Hence the sky can be seen. Even when he confesses to his father, you can see the outside of the house. Before going to the hostel he takes in the open sky for one final time because that is the last time he experiences freedom.
Until, he meets Tara. When he is his original self, there is the sky and underneath is a usual love story told in an unusual way.
The movie ends with a beautiful montage of Ved shifting from a tight small frame and into the open, signifying each moment of his shift from what society wanted him to be into what he wants to be.
The final scene shows Ved becoming who he is i.e a storyteller and a mid-credits scene shows both Tara and Ved dancing under the open sky. Freedom from societal norms, at last.
A very big thank you, if you read the whole thing. If you haven’t, thank you anyway. I might be wrong about the entire thing but it is what it is. I am quite sure neither Imtiaz nor S. Ravi Varman will come and give me assurance that I am not completely mad. I am happy that I got this out of my system and I am thankful to all the above mentioned Youtubers for showing me a new way of watching and appreciating film-making.