First things first, 'Talaash' is not a film that cannot be watched. In fact it is a film that has quite a few positives going for it (the entire first half and the twist during the pre-climax). It is just that all of it doesn't sum up into a perfect film that one was expecting from the makers here, especially considering the fact that the premise was wonderful enough to warrant a fascinating tale.
Aamir Khan plays a no-nonsense cop who is very unlike the one that he played in 'Sarfarosh'. He is entirely dry, has a disdain for his personal life and at an occasional instance when he feels like smiling, he says it (like the scene at a brothel) instead of expressing it. That's Inspector Shekhawat for you. Of course you do go by him. After all, he has suffered a persona loss and isn't able to come out of the trauma of losing his only son.
His wife (Rani Mukerji) too suffers from the trauma but at least tries to find means, both conventional as well as unconventional, to get some peace of mind. What is not conventional though are some of the accidents in the underbelly of Mumbai that are lying unexplained. While Aamir is intensifying his 'talaash' for the answers, he gets support from Kareena Kapoor, playing a prostitute. In the process of helping him, she tries to not just bring him closer to the truth around the accidents but also lends him good ear when it comes to battling his personal trauma.
Not quite a regular 'whodunit' or 'whydonit', 'Talaash' starts off very well. In fact as the characters are introduced (Nawazuddin Siddiqui, a pimp, his girlfriend, a dead superstar, his wife, his best friend), you only get seeped into the drama. It keeps you in the hunt, well literally, even as one episode after another is churned that opens more chapters than closing any. Frankly, you are hooked and by the time interval card flashes, it is literally a point of no return.
The second half starts off well but after a while the plot starts meandering. Too many conversations start taking place in the silence of nights and you start wondering that how two distinct stories around Aamir's professional and personal life could actually end up being connected, if at all they had to. Yes, the twist in the tale does give you a sudden jolt but post that when you would have expected the narrative to further pick up momentum, none of that really happens as the drama slows down with too many 'let's justify what really happened' shots diluting the overall impact.
However that part of the film which ends up puzzling you most is the whole 'connect' factor w.r.t. Aamir's trauma. Frankly, if one looks at 'Talaash' as just one intense suspense drama around the accidents, it works (and that too in a major way). However another angle, and that too a major one at that, around Aamir's personal life doesn't really work. Also, one ends up wondering if the makers had something deeper to say but it somehow got lost in the middle of it all.
Though it would be incorrect to say that he Aamir Khan playing a role of a lifetime in 'Talaash', the fact still remains that he cracks the character quite comfortably and doesn't come with one wrong shot. Kareena is quite good and adds a lot of weight to the story. Rani underplays her part well and looking at Nawazuddin, it is hard to believe that someone who was playing a gang-lord not too long ago (Gangs of Wasseypur) didn't hesitate one bit to enact the part of a sidekick (albeit with a good screen time and importance to the plot).
The second half syndrome - Now if only that wouldn't have struck 'Talaash' hard, the film would have given tough competition to 'Kahaani' as far as being one of the most intriguing suspense thrillers to come out of Bollywood is concerned. Really, while the first half of the film is absolutely brilliant, the grip loosens in the second half where the plot meanders and the ending only ends up resulting in more questions than answers. Result? As a viewer you are in 'talaash' of catching hold of various strings.