Movie Review: KAHAANI by FENIL SETA

The National Awards results couldn’t have come at a better time! Just when Vidya Balan was in the midst of promoting Kahaani came the news that she has won the Best Actress Award in the 59th edition of the coveted awards. It gave the promotion of Kahaani a bonus push and put Vidya Balan under the spotlight…that too for the right reasons! And the talks of Vidya’s feats will go on for few more days for sure as Kahaani has turned out to be a riveting and mind-blowing thriller! The film has loads of thrill and nail-biting moments to keep you at the edge of the seat. And the suspense just shocks!

The story of the movie: Seven-month pregnant Vidya Bagchi (Vidya Balan) arrives in Kolkata from London to look for her missing husband Arnab Bagchi (Indraneil Sengupta). However, she reaches a dead end when she goes to his workplace and guest house and is told that they have never come across anyone by the name of Arnab Bagchi! The cops too lose hope and feel that it’s better that Vidya returns to London inspite of going around the city and that too when she is just 2 months away from delivery. However, sub-inspector Rana (Parambrata Chattopadhyay) gets fond of Vidya and helps her in finding her missing husband. How she manages to do so and in the process open up a can of worms is what the film is all about.

Kahaani is a thriller/mystery/suspense drama in the true sense of the word. The film engages you right from the first frame and doesn’t leave you till the end. One instantly gets sucked into the journey of Vidya Bagchi as she goes around the festive but intriguing city of Kolkata. When the first promo was out, it seemed as if the makers have given away almost the entire story! But viewers are proved wrong as the film has lots of surprises that were wisely hidden from the promos!

The opening scene of the film is chilling! The film gets on track as Vidya Bagchi arrives in Kolkata. One has seen zillion times in the promos that the cop mispronounce Vidya’s name and yet one laughs as the scene arrives…that’s the way in which the film engrosses! The film gets better as it moves ahead and new and new and interesting characters are introduced. 2 characters that remain etched in mind are HR manager Agnes and Bob Biswas. The latter, played by Saswata Chatterjee, is funny yet intriguing and the tension levels go up as soon as he arrives on screen or receives MMS!

Coming back to the film, the second half too is exciting and the mystery gets deeper as more characters enter the narrative and their hidden agendas come on the forefront. After a point, this does get a bit heavy on the viewers when it’s get difficult to understand where exactly the film is heading. However, then comes the climax and that’s when all the answers are revealed. As said before, the suspense just shakes you! It would be very difficult for the viewers to guess the suspense correctly beforehand and hence the film wins due to the unpredictability factor! One respects the director-writers more as they kept the suspense hidden and at the same time threw sufficient clues around for viewers to guess! And this is what after all an ideal suspense drama! Hats off!

Talking of performances, it was evident from the promos itself that Vidya Balan has scored yet another sixer in Kahaani and that she’ll deliver yet-another award-winning performance! And bingo! That’s what she does! She’s proved not once but as many as 5 consecutive times (with Paa, Ishqiya, No One Killed Jessica, The Dirty Picture and now Kahaani) that films with women having a strong role can work and can be a significant factor behind its success! No other actress has managed to do so, so many times! Hats off to this powerhouse of talent and hope she keep entertaining us with her lovely performances! Kudos!

Parambrata Chattopadhyay has an important role and underplays it very well! An actor to watch out for! Nawazuddin Siddiqui (as Intelligence officer Khan) was as usual terrific and gave a new dimension to characters of officers working for the cause of the country! Bob Biswas, as said before, was simply mind-blowing and one of the plus points of the film! The lady who played Agnes was too good! Great to see director Sujoy Ghosh roping in actors who look so authentic and aam aadmi-like! Indraneil Sengupta shines in a special appearance. Dhritiman Chatterjee (Bhaskaran) and Darshan Jariwala (Bajpayee) play their parts as well. The actors who play Sridhar, Monalisa Guest House’ manager, inspector at Kalighat Police station, the police informer and the two kids also give in their best shot!

Vishal-Shekhar’s music compliments the proceedings well. Only 2 songs feature in the film – Aami Shotti Bolchi and Ekla Cholo Re (sung by Amitabh Bachchan) – and both were too good! Clinton Cerejo’s background score uplifts the impact in several scenes! Setu’s cinematography beautifully captures the festive and mysterious spirit of Kolkata! Namrata Rao, who has edited popular films like Ishqiya, Love Sex Aur Dhokha, Band Baaja Baaraat and Ladies VS Ricky Bahl does her a great job yet again. Same goes for Sabyasachi who has designed Vidya’s clothes and it would be no surprise if pregnant ladies too start dress up like Vidya Bagchi!

Sujoy Ghosh and Advaita Kala’s story was not only well-written and sketched but as far as my knowledge goes, it was original too! Suresh Nair and Nikhil Vyas’ screenplay ensured that there’s not a single boring moment throughout the film. Sutapta Sikdar, Ritesh Shah and Sujoy’s dialogues were memorable, especially the epilogue recited by Amitabh Bachchan! And finally Sujoy Ghosh’s direction was just magnificent! He began his career with the successful Jhankaar Beats and although his later films (Home Delivery and Aladin) were considered duds, these films had flashes of brilliance too! And with Kahaani, Ghosh proves that he still is the best! Coming up with a women-centric story and standing by it even when producers refused to back the project is worth applauding! Moreover, this was no easy film to execute and Ghosh gets 10 on 10 for directing it so neatly without leaving the viewers confused or scratching their heads! The Metro rail incident as shown in the film didn’t seem childish or tacky (as it happens in several of our Hindi films) and the entire film and its happenings seemed absolutely believable! All questions get answered by the time the final credits roll, except the mystery of the peacock at the guest house’ elevator! But on second thoughts, this mystery too is unveiled! Brilliant work Sujoyda and hope he maintains this form for a long long time!

Some of the best scenes:
1. The opening scene in the lab and train (impactful!)
2. Vidya Bagchi arrives at the police station
3. Vidya goes to the guest house
4. All scenes of Agnes
5. All scenes of Bob Biswas
6. Khan interrogates Vidya
7. Vidya at the old office of NDC
8. The intermission point
9. Vidya at Milan Damji’s residence
10. Vidya hacks Sridhar’s computer
11. The last 20 minutes

On the whole, Kahaani is how an ideal suspense drama should be! It also reaffirms the fact that women-centric film can generate excitement and attract audiences! The film boasts of another National Award worthy performance from Vidya Balan! Sujoy Ghosh’s neat and uncomplicated direction, interesting supporting characters, impactful background score and a fast-paced script ensure you get your money’s worth! Reserve your seats now…after all, you don’t get to see such flawless films every Friday! Aami Shotti Bolchi!!

My rating-**** ½ out of 5!

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