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Kahaani (2012)-Hindi movie starring Vidya Balan mesmerize audience (User Review)

Mar 14, 2012 (Calcutta Tube): Vidya Balan, Parambrata Chatterjee starrer ‘Kahaani’ has a superb and mature storyline, backed by a talented medley of actors. Directed by Sujoy Ghosh, the thriller film promises to spellbind the audience for weeks if not months.

Bollywood Actress Vidya BalanSuspense reigns supreme from the very first scenes as a mass murder occurs in the Calcutta Metros leaving passengers of an entire carriage gassed to death by a virulent chemical. The authorities are baffled and the case apparently closes without anybody being convicted. But two years later, events start taking curious turns when a software professional from a London firm, Vidya Venkatesan Bagchi, six months pregnant, arrives at Calcutta in search of her missing husband Arnab. She explains to the police that her husband, also another software specialist, had been assigned a job with the National Data Centre (NDC) but just after two weeks of his arrival all communications ceased between them and Arnab went untraceable. The distressed Vidya, found no other option but to travel to Calcutta in his search. Though the officers on duty including the young sympathetic sub-inspector Satyaki Sinha aka Rana, felt it to be no more than a case of fraud played upon the innocent Vidya but matters soon started taking unexpected turns.

Stationing herself at the same guest house where Arnab had supposed to reside prior to his disappearance Vidya launches a parallel investigation of her own. Exhibiting the only snapshot of her camera shy husband, as she starts enquiring at NDC, Agnes, the centre’s veteran HR manager found striking similarities between him and an ex-employee, Milan Damji. But it appears Milan’s records are restricted from general access, and the only way out is mining the data up from old hardcopies stacked at the decrepit record’s room of the old NDC quarters. Unbeknownst to Agnes and Vidya, the joint endeavour had not gone unnoticed as they seemed to inadvertently stumble upon the right path to uncover a latent mystery. Infact the probes into Milan Damji’s past seemed not only to rattle the criminal minds but made its tremors felt among some high ranking IB officials as well.

Grim events followed as murder takes place and IB chief Bhaskaran delegates his deputy, Khan to Calcutta to look into the matter. Meanwhile the young Rana, a debutant in the police forces, is intrigued at the turn of events and goes out of his way to help Vidya. But the sleuthing suffers a jolt as Khan seems all eager to hush up the investigation. Convinced that they are heading along the right path, the undeterred Vidya, with the help of Rana, follows Agnes’ lead and unearths Damji’s file and forces an annoyed Khan to come to terms.

With IB now keeping a close watch it becomes more complicated for Vidya and Rana to seek the truth and danger looms large as the murderer makes his presence felt more than once. As moles in IB and the NDA pose additional hindrance, vital clues seem to be in store of an ex-IB personnel and an aged local informer – both very much uninterested to cooperate. At a time when the city rejoices in the festivities of the Durga Puja, it is left to Vidya, Rana and Khan to uncover the harsh truth. With Khan setting trap disregarding innocent lives, the audience waits with abated breath for the ultimate showdown that is so startling and deceptive that it clearly distinguishes the film from any ordinary mainstream.

A fascinating thriller directed by Sujoy Ghosh with the skilled editing of Namrata Rao, the added attraction of Kahaani is the charming portraiture of Calcutta. Woven into the very fabric of the city of joy, cradle to some of the finest detectives of fiction – Byomkesh-Feluda-Kiriti – the city salutes the fearless and resolute Vidya as she carries on her sleuthing among the dingy nooks, the grimy tea stalls, the shabby offices and above all, the pride of the city – the metros. Selecting a season when Calcutta offers her best show, the magic and the festivities of the city has been captured by the enthralling cinematography of Setu with the selected collage of the antiquated tramways, the art and artists of Potopara, the vibrant Durga Puja and the traditional grandeur of Bijoya Dashami when Calcutta bids farewell to the Goddess of Power until the next year. Infact the splendour continues till the very climax that has been interleaved with the immersion festivities as Vidya, representing Devi Durga on her mission to cleanse the Mother Earth of all evil, shows her mettle as she evades security to confront the villain all by herself.

Not only during the climax but throughout the entire movie Vidya Balan (Vidya) has been simply outstanding. Blending well with her surroundings she carries on the role with her characteristic ease. Shifting the moods from the distressed wife to the determined truth seeker her effortless transitions makes the character more realistic than ever. Accompanying her with his naive looks, Parambrata maintains the role of the young sincere sub-inspector (Rana) to such a degree that sometimes the character seemed too pure to be true. Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the shrewd, unabashed Khan was a prudent choice as was Dhritimaan in the role of the IB chief Bhaskaran. Barring the central characters, two more persons deserve special mention for whom no praise seems sufficient. They are Kharaj Mukherjee and Saswata Chatterjee. Kharaj plays the part of senior officer to Rana and he balances the tempo of the movie with the subtle relief without compromising on the seriousness of the situation. Showcasing his fatherly figure, the character releases the stress at intervals that agrees well with the pace and the mood as and when demanded. On the other hand Saswata, playing the role of the sinister contract killer in the guise of an insurance agent, Bob Biswas, though is devoid of any significant dialogue, but his appearance is sure to send shivers down the spine. Maintaining an ominously cool composure he is amazingly different from ordinary villains and the personality that he infuses into the character inspires a mixed reaction of hatred and feel-good from the audience. Abir Chatterjee, Darshan Jariwala, Shantilal Mukherjee, Indraneil Sengupta, Nitya Ganguli, Kalyan Chatterjee, Collen Blanche and all the others including the child actors Riddhi Sen and Ritabrata Mukherjee as casted by Roshmi Banerjee seemed to comprise a careful selection that fits into each role perfectly. Infact inclusion of professionals like Rumki Chatterjee, Falguni Chatterjee, Arindam Sil, etc. in guest roles that lasts not more than a few seconds speaks of the meticulousness that has been followed as their expressions in those short scenes elevates the dimension of the movie even more. Added to this is Suchismita Dasgupta and Sabyasachi Mukherji’s costume design who seemed to excel in the detailing and adds to the realistic touch as also evident from the use of regional actors who doesn’t require additional make-ups to represent the place where they belong.

The songs (music by Vishal Sekhar) in the movie had been sprinkled at just the right places and never for once tarnish the suspense but why Amitabh Bacchan was required to lend his voice in “Ekla Cholo Re” where professional Bengali/Hindi singers could have been opted for will remain a mystery to me. The compositions themselves seem to be precisely hand-picked as not only the pulse of the city is conveyed by the melodies but the use of the all pervading Rabindrasangeet has bestowed a sense of completeness to the movie and metropolis.

Having said these, a footnote must be dedicated to something that my head demands contrasting to what my heart speaks. Yes, this immensely enjoyable thriller does have certain flaws that though are trivial but a little more detailing could have ensured a feeling of totality. I will point out four mistakes, the first three of which can be easily overridden while enjoying this intriguing tale of peril and courage but the fourth is nothing less than a glaring error of research. The first and foremost is the obvious detailing missed when the IB gets involved. Given the gravity of the situation and the Milan menace posing as a national threat, the IB never bothers a background check of Vidya who claims to be his wife for quite some time. Secondly, throughout the movie, Rana is shown to help a pregnant Vidya more from his sheer kind-heartedness than in a professional capacity but never for once does he solicit Vidya to consult a gynaecologist or queries about her medical condition as regards the baby she is carrying. Thirdly, during Vidya’s private sleuthing with Rana the later is seen often in police uniform that seems a most immature choice for a sensible sub-inspector. But the most appalling error is when Vidya, getting introduced to Rana’s good name Satyaki, refers this to be synonymous to Lord Krishna, charioteer to Arjun in the epic war of Kurukshetra and the phrase is repeated during the last scenes signifying Rana remained all along the charioteer to Vidya while she executed the evil force. The error lies in the fact that Satyaki or Yuyudhan belonged to the same clan as Krishna namely the Vrishni but is never the same person at all. So this is a noticeable inaccuracy among the otherwise accurate script.

Well, now that my brain is appeased, I would once more recommend the movie to one and all for its delightful thrill, a most gratifying plot and an aesthetic presentation – all of which are increasingly becoming a rarity in commercial endeavours.

- Anirban De

Kahaani (2012)-Movie Review (Starring Vidya Balan, Parambrata Chatterjee)

Mar 9, 2012 (Calcutta Tube): Kahaani is a 2012 Hindi film directed by Sujoy Ghosh with Vidya Balan and Parambrata Chatterjee in lead roles. Read the movie review at Calcutta Tube.
A thriller with no frills attached

Vidya Balan means business and she is back as Vidya Bagchi in ‘Kahaani’ to prove that to us.

The background

The movie takes its stance from the word go and it comes alive with a haunting memoir of terrorism and death. Yup it leaves nothing to your fancy and grips you with an unnerving sequence from the very first ordeal where a chemical attack in a metro train in Kolkata kills several people. So the ‘Kahaani’ begins and it keeps the sincere anxiety alive when the pregnant wife of a software engineer called Arnab Bagchi travels from London to the city of joy to locate her missing husband. She is the enigmatic and powerful lady Vidya Bagchi played by a brilliant Vidya Balan and she is not someone whom you should mess with.

As the movie progresses we see that her expedition leads us into the dirty muddled backstage lanes of the Intelligence Bureau of India and what was looking like an emotional journey at first, suddenly pumps up some invisible adrenaline into your veins as it transforms into a spy thriller with a case of double identity. But don’t go expecting some rather vapid outlining of mistaken duplicate case because this film will blow off your clandestine ideas and analysis with a smiling smack down the throat.

The story – 4/5

Finally there is something to cheer about a storyline in Bollywood because all things said and done the real hero of this film is its ‘Kahaani’ (story) itself. It stops, turns, whizzes and twists and keeps you on your edge at all times. Just when something becomes apparent the tables are turned and it feels like you are in this deliberate cat and mouse game. Racy, cagey and crafty, the tale of this celluloid venture from Director Sujoy Ghosh is bound to keep your eyeballs fixed and your mind roving in apprehensive uncertainties.

The film unfolds like a magic act with three layers of performance; first comes the exposition of some strikingly real characters with the backdrop of a city that almost plays a double role itself. Next comes the enchanting and gripping body filled with questions and puzzles that refuse to coalesce and then comes the prestige with all its gruesome glory to knock your bails off. The cherry on the cake has to be the parallelism with the Goddess Durga who seems to manifest in us to cure our society of the many demons that we ourselves create.

There are some improbabilities and a slight romantic interlude that pulls the narrative astray for a few moments but keeping the minor flaws aside, take a deep breath before you walk in because I guarantee you there will not be any opportunities for respiration once inside.

The direction and technique – 4/5

You could say that Kolkata is a vintage city with its own darkness that lurks in the numerous alleys that crisscrosses throughout its body but you cannot deny that it has its own separate character.

Sujoy Ghosh manages to capture that vibrancy and gloom in one blurry platter and breathes a life into the background that comes alive on the screen.

The colours and the sights mingle to create an addictive panorama of ancient splendor and massive anarchy and the cinematography of the movie erupts with volcanic spirit but never does it wipe out the leading lady and her thrilling journey from our minds. The canvas is alive with a restrained glory and some cut throat editing from Nirmala Rao never allows the pace to slacken only reserving the very best for our entertainment.

Banzai to that and banzai for the gripping treatment that somehow makes every part of this movie integral and hinges together the splendid story telling with some rarely seen gusto in Bollywood.

The acting – 4.5/5

Can you make a thriller that you just feel like watching again for the hands on performance of the lead actress? You sure as hell can! Vidya Balan is proving to be a gem in an industry were the scarcity of powerful actresses were proving to be almost as big a challenge as the insipid scripts that populated it. As Vidya Bagchi she is definition herself and manages to play the many topsy-turvy moods of the protagonist with authority and restraint. So there are no tear-jerking melodramas, nor are there superfluous eye-candy moments in a performance that is sure to make her competitors sit up and take notice of her again (And she just bagged the National Award too). Be it the loving wife, the mourning partner or even just a motivated individual, she oscillates between the many shades of with effortless grace and realistic consistency.

This part is incomplete without a mention to the gala of splendid supporting performances that kept this tightly knit script from breaking into shambles.

Parambrata Chatterjee as the helping cop brings with him such an ingenuous charm while remaining grounded to the nitty-gritties of our real world grime that he almost stands out but as I said almost; because even he seamlessly manages to hog just enough limelight without pushing the charismatic leading lady out of our scopes.

Cameos from Kharaj Mukherjee, Indraneil Sengupta along with the brash intelligence hotshot played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui are very much impressive and all of them carry their defined posts with much dexterity.

A special mention has to go to the contract killer played by Saswata Chatterjee who just can’t help but display a rather devious grin after each successful hit that he makes.

The music – 3.5/5

The music is both haunting and an adequate associate to the brilliant story telling. Despite that one blotchy moment where a modern age adaptation of Tagore’s song is made, the music manages to hold its own.

One special moment near the climax where the ‘Dhols’ merge with the soundtrack to create a brilliant resonating effect deserves a rather special mention.

So a Kahaani to watch out for?

Certainly so and irrespective of the fact that whether thriller is the pocket loosener for you, you will find this gripping journey alongside a woman in search of truth enticing and breathtaking.

So before you dwindle on your entertaining tidbits this weekend, make a stop at your nearest theatre and go have a blast!

By Arnab Chakraborty/IBNS

Pasand Apni Apni-Hindi FIlm starring Mithun Chakraborty


Director: Basu Chatterjee

Music By: Bappi Lahiri

Cast: Mithun Chakraborty, Rati Agnihotri, Utpal Dutt, Ashok Kumar, Atul Agnihotri  and others

Mithun ChakrabortyThis alluring comedy by the Indian auteur Basu Chatterjee is stamped with his love of the trivial details and casual observations of everyday life in contemporary India. It is a humble piece celebrating the lives of the affluent and the working classes but its richness lies in its fiscal observations of the impoverished middle class and their struggle to survive, albeit Basu makes this a real blissful  ride with satire and humour which are disguised as a very subtle but sensitive love story where the endearments are not uttered or sung by the characters in the absurd Bollywood manner, but rather evolve in the script as character development ,this simply make this endearing movie a treasure to cherish although it is as simple in aptitude as it is lacking in attitude.

The synopsis revolve around a struggling theatre actress who through a mischievous misunderstanding is assumed by her small time theatre company to be the amorously involved with one of the richest business tycoons in the country ,her domestic and fiscal milieu obliges her to exploit this opportunity and she doesn’t deny the allegation, obviously she becomes the toast of the rather trivial little theatrical troupe whose owner played by Utpal Dutt starts dreaming of getting the industrial giant adroitly played by Mithun as Sandeep to be their official art patron and starts heaping immense favours on the young belle hoping she will allure her alleged lover to support her artistic venture.

The playboy industrialist meanwhile gets wind of this mischievous conspiracy and out of sheer boredom decides to investigate the whole episode disguised as a common employee of his giant firm, as he reaches the theatre and encounters the gorgeous but innocent chanteuse played by Rati Agnihotri, he is intrigued enough to find out more of the veracity of this rather alluring situation and the Shakespearean comedy ensues in full splendour as the actress starts liking the small time employee who is actually the most eligible bachelor in town and he gets a taste of real India with the astonishing verisimilitude of the girl and her family who are living on a shoestring budget after her father untimely demise.

This is where the movie inspires you as the affluent and bored billionaire starts to actually respect the middle class virtues and the girl’s courage more then her beauty and the alabaster belle of his imagination becomes a dream to cherish and applaud.

The misunderstanding and its resolution is a comment on the lower middle classes of a country where the worker is stripped of all rights and exploited by the powerful as witnessed by the rise to stardom of the female lead once her name is associated with a celebrity, this is scintillating satire delivered in a platter of laughs with enough sophistication to make Bollywood proud but then Basu Chattrerjee is an authentic auteur and given the natural talents of Mithun and Rati, he wields his magic wand to create an extremely likeable and polished comedy.
Mithun has perfect comic timing with natural grace and here he plays his tycoon with a poise which will remind you of Cary Grant comedies ,his costumes enhance his spontaneity immensely whether he is in a casual sport jacket or in a traditional Indian dress, but his turn in a tuxedo will make his female fans ecstatic and I think he plays his true self as his performance is so casual it seems he is playing his own persona, but he is just as charismatic as Rati who is the moral beauty, at once naive, innocent, but caring and pragmatic who adores the young man as a friend but still will not cross the boundaries of decency, yet their silent love is adroitly expressed in their everyday encounters in their casual conversations and their intimacy is reflected by body language rather than touch, this is true cinema which doesn’t need any absurd dialogues or hackneyed comic episodes to convey its modern love fable.

The musical score is charming with five numbers of which the best is a simple dance in Sheraton with Mithun and Rati, there are two song which could easily be deleted as they seem to be forced into the script by the distributors but at least they are in the milieu of a theatrical setting and performed on stage, the editing is natural and propels the story whereas the costumes and cinematography is toned down to give the movie its genuine and realistic look very authentically and the director is to be credited for these whimsical but all important trivial details.

The credit is due to Basu and the plaudits are equally shared by the 2 romantic leads, with their flare for spontaneous histrionics and their absolute dedication to underplay their roles so the humour can shine bright and this is what sets this movie apart from the average sit-com, as for rom-coms I am not going to humiliate this effort by even suggesting the notion it belongs to that genre as it has more intelligence in its little finger then the whole embodiments of the Karan Johar so called rom-coms which drown themselves in their gigantic set pieces, gaudy costumes and overwrought melodrama.

Basu made other comedies like Shaukeen, Khatta Meetha and Baton Baton Main and they are equally good as they also are conceived out of observation about a common man and how people live in their modest two room dwellings in urban Indian metropolises and the joys that the human beings can derive from simple pleasures in everyday life, even when you are taking a crowded public bus or suburban train, while you can be equally miserable in a Mercedes or range rover if you are discontent in life genuinely.

This is a venture that puts that message across very affectively and convincingly in the profound manner of a Shakespearean play of mistaken identities but the wisdom of the bard and his comic sense of genius are retained in an astounding manner without resorting to clichéd Bollywood antics and acrobatic minus the mangled melodrama which make them so nauseating generally, but this is a charming exception and its humility makes it even more endearing than ever.

- Dr Usman Khawaja

Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu poster-Kareena Kapoor, Imran Khan

Ek Main Aur Ek Tu (2012) Bollywood Hindi Movie Review

Feb 12, 2012 (Calcutta Tube/ IBNS): Ek Main Aur Ek Tu is a 2012 Bollywood Hindi movie starring Kareena Kapoor, Imran Khan, Boman Irani, Ratna Pathak Shah under the direction of Shakun Batra. Read the Hindi movie review at Calcutta Tube.

Ek Main Aur Ek Tu: A rom com with a twist

Ek Mein Aur Ek Tu is hardly as long as its namesake and manages to offer a peppy and spritely romantic comedy with the right amount of gags and a trinket of dramatic romance.

The Background-

Give it up guys and galz for Geet version 2 (obviously Kareena Kapoor) who is back to take the stiff guys on a fun ride of life. This time the lucky winner is mama and papa’s boy Rahul Kapoor (Imran Khan) who gets to have his life turned upside down by Riana Braganza (come on you knew it was Kareena right?). So what if they meet in Vegas and so what if they get drunk and unwillingly married, that’s about all the similarities it has with What Happens In Vegas; and everything that follows is a small sweet deal of “mazaak”, “dosti”, “thoda pyaar” and more “maazak”.

The story – 3.5/5

EMAET is a story of funny clichés and some funny original innovations. It is a story that will keep you grinning till the end and despite the obvious gloom of dramatic moments it never drags you down; all the while spinning the yarn with subtlety.

No, it isn’t free of all the typical Bollywood flare, yet EMAET brings with it a fresh vibrancy of the new generation, and the ending progresses along different roads than the usual but let’s not spoil the surprise!

The characters are more realistic than the usual Punjabi aphorisms of surreal nature that you get to experience on screen. Yup they are alive and they make you feel the same too. I won’t say that the confrontation between stick em up parents and the caged child is any new matter, nor is the love by accident anything novel and yet amongst all that mediocrity, the entire coalition of humdrum events hits you in a very pleasant way.

Rahul breaks free and Riana inspires him to do so but they make that banal and overused journey come alive with many frizzy moments and some unexpected dialogues. This pair of opposites attracts and repels in known trajectories but that does not make this offing any less fun.

The direction and technique – 4/5

The little things and the lack of too many of them is what makes this offering from Shakun Batra stand out of the crowd of many many other contemporaries.

They say that life displays itself with utmost vivacity in the smallest of moments and one can say the same for EMAET. Moments crop out of nowhere and give you insights about the characters while still making you rock with laughter, like the time when “stiff” Rahul irons his sock or when carefree Riana spits on the car window; moments like that are scattered throughout the movie.

Yet the flick is also a bag of surprises that keeps you entertained and guessing till the end. Watch out for those nice subtitles behind the calendar that marks the days!

But the best part about the movie is the strict and tight editing that scuttles its length to less than 2 hours, now that’s a feat you don’t get to see in Bollywood as often as you would want.

 The acting – 3.5/5

Kareena stole the show as Geet and in this upgraded version of her wild on screen avatar she manages to do the same.

Riana in its own way is close and yet quite far from Geet. She displays the unexpected exuberance and yet knows where to draw some lines. So she is the fun filled energy vessel who is confident and “has a plan” but she has the reserved reality of a true human being, and Kareena pulled that off with utmost ease.

Imran is once again the good boy (I wonder how many times this has been said!) but with stiff shoulders in need of excitement in life. This being a quite comfortable place for the young Khan, he pulls it off with a neat and tidy touch, kind of like Rahul himself.

Boman Irani is wasted as the grumpy and hard-working father but Ratna Pathak Shah as Rahul’s mom displays a sense of immaturity that is one chirpy note in itself.

The music – 3.5/5

Amit Trivedi has the magic of Dev D riding on his back and he doesn’t disappoint here either. If the soft melodies soothe you then the party tracks want to make wear those tango shoes.

Aunty Ji is one song that is going to be heard in all kinds of places very soon and let’s face it, you’ll love it!

Aside from the inclusion of a slight misfit in the form of Mozart’s piano concerto no. 21 at the dining scene, all the other background tracks keep buzzing with the screenplay and makes the joyride even more fun.

So will this be your Valentine treat?

Sure pack your bags and dress up to visit your nearest halls and have a little bit of light headed fun that also surprisingly doesn’t tell you to keep your brains at home.

If however you want dramatic delicacies that move you and make you tremble then perhaps EMAET is a little too shallow for you.

- By Arnab Chakraborty