‘Tarak’ review: A family drama that works well in parts, but lacks the focus of a good film

The comedy scenes are the worst offenders, taking attention away from some fairly poignant scenes of family conflict.
‘Tarak’ review: A family drama that works well in parts, but lacks the focus of a good film
‘Tarak’ review: A family drama that works well in parts, but lacks the focus of a good film
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What if a film were to reverse traditional roles, and have the heroine stalk the hero, instead of the other way around? Would it look romantic? As it turns out in Tarak, it would still look horrendously offensive.

It’s not as if films need to check off all the boxes of political correctness. But we do still keep one eye on the ground even as we set logic aside to go on a roller-coaster ride of emotions. However, nothing is going to look fresh simply by having men and women switch roles.   

In Darshan’s latest film, Meera (Shanvi Srivastav) follows Tarak (Darshan) around until he falls in love with her. And Tarak, who spends most of the first 20 minutes of the film trying to keep her out of his life, finally agrees to go on one date with her and returns wearing the rose-tinted glasses of love. Yes, the entire sequence is as ridiculous as it sounds.

Kicking off with this incongruous act, Tarak takes its time to get to what is actually a family drama. The romance, featuring the Kannada-speaking man and woman in an exotic foreign land, is just a prelude to introduce us to Tarak’s family members in Bengaluru.

As the story shifts from Europe to India, Tarak Sr (Devaraj), the hero’s grandfather, and the assorted people living in his house come into the picture. This is where the real drama begins and it is this thread of the film that holds up better than anything else.

Devaraj plays a very old patriarch, who’s also the head of a business that manufactures ready-made food mixes. So he shakes his hands nervously (to announce his screen-age) and speaks in riddles to show off the ‘wisdom’ that comes with experience. Between him and Tarak Junior lies a vast gulf of tension, primarily focused on the latter’s parents.

The eternal clashes between children's aspirations and parents' expectations are painted well in this film, in broad, clean strokes. And Darshan’s frustrations stand out in this part of this film, thanks to some decent lines.

In the end, thanks to a framed family picture, Darshan get to the bottom of the pain he’s suffered over the years. Along the way, he also meets the other female lead in the film, played by Sruthi Hariharan.

Though Sruthi’s role is a step above Shanvi’s, one is left wondering why she too speaks in riddles like Devaraj’s character. Proverbs are great when they’re packaged as occasional one-liners that liven up the script. But, marking every scene with such dialogues gets tedious after a point. 

The comedy bits (including one scene where a child urinates on his dad) are the worst parts of Tarak and should really have been edited out to hold onto the many moments of poignancy in the film. In fact, it is an action scene in which Darshan crumples up a machete that unintentionally proves the funniest in the film.

Tarak works well in parts because of the grandfather-grandson story, but should ideally have been edited to cut out all the unnecessary bits around this.

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