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

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