A fable rarely gets its cinematic interpretation in Bollywood. But acclaimed cinematographer Santosh Sivan decides to do so for his new outing Tahaan.
Tahaan is a soothing experience. Also, amidst the story of a child's obsession for his pet donkey, it also opens your eyes to the fact that children can be soft targets for carrying out nefarious activities.
Agreed, a film like Tahaan caters to a niche audience. But its simplicity is its USP. There's another reason to go for it: Child artiste Purav. You can't take your eyes off from this sensational discovery of Sivan.
Tahaan [Purav Bhandara] lives with his grandfather [Victor Banerjee], his mother [Sarika] and older sister [Sana Shaikh] in the serene meadows of Kashmir. They all live in the hope that someday Tahaan's father, who's been missing for over three years, will return.
The death of his grandfather prompts the local moneylender [Rahul Khanna] to take away the assets of the family, including their pet donkey Birbal. For Tahaan, bringing his favourite donkey Birbal back home becomes the sole purpose in life. Tahaan is devastated to learn that an old man, Subhan [Anupam Kher], has bought Birbal and taken him across the mountains. He traces Subhan and tells him about Birbal.
Subhan doesn't befriend Tahaan at first sight, but slowly warms up to this energetic and determined soul whose love for Birbal is paramount. On his way back home, Tahaan encounters a teenage lad ldrees, who convinces him that his efforts would never be sufficient to get Birbal back. Instead, he promises to get Birbal back for a favour. All Tahaan will have to do is carry a package across the mountains on his next journey. Seeing Tahaan's eagerness, ldrees hands him a grenade.
Tahaan sets off on his second journey with Subhan, the grenade and package tucked away under Birbal's saddle. What is the price that Tahaan will have to pay for Birbal?
Santosh Sivan travels a seldom travelled path in Tahaan. Sure, he's telling a simple, uncomplicated story, but a simple story could be difficult to narrate. The film has its share of interesting moments, but the finale is, without doubt, the best part of the enterprise. However, the screenplay is not as convincing and gripping as one expects it to be.
Tahaan belongs to the young actor -- Purav. Post Darsheel's act in Taare Zameen Par, Purav's is the most confident act by a child actor. Anupam Kher also stays with you even after the show has concluded. Sarika is excellent. Rahul Bose doesn't deliver this time, mainly because the role lacks meat. Rahul Khanna has a miniscule role. Ditto for Victor Banerjee.
On the whole, Tahaan is for a niche audience, more for the festival circuit.