ravings, rantings and ramblings
It is a little difficult to start when an entire film, from start to end, is remarkable. Kahaani (or ‘story’ in Hindi) is exactly that.
As the name suggests, most films, these days are manufactured without that single most important ingredient. Try and remember films that had strong storylines and you will find yourself struggling. And this ‘kahaani’ is a bold one – that of a pregnant woman searching for her husband in a city that is teeming with millions!
Director Sujoy Ghosh debuted with a film (Jhankaar Beats) that paid tribute to the genius of R D Burman and then went on to make two more films that were rather nondescript, despite a good cast. His fourth outing, obviously, had some question marks dangling. Not a typical Bollywood film; no bankable hero; no size-zero heroine; no exotic locales; no item-number; no scandals to promote the film. With these boxes unticked, the director clearly was walking against the tide. What he chose instead ensured immense viewing pleasure and that was investing in great story, slick editing, taut screenplay and direction and signing up the saving grace of the current crop of actresses – Vidya Balan.
Little wonder when news came in that Vidya Balan won the National Award for The Dirty Picture (Read:https://calmdev.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/the-dirty-picture/). Expectations also pipped up considerably. And from the moment, she alighted from her flight and filled in the screen, Vidya Balan clearly showed what it takes to be called an actress. She is definitely the ‘hero’ – not just in the film but in the film industry as well.
You do realise that often preferences for an actor is based on looks or a mix of looks and talent. Even if we do not accept it, but likes and dislikes hover around appearances. Picking up from my postulate, I am prone to bias about Vidya’s goddess-like looks. But then when one looks at her body of work and the sort of work she has accomplished, one realises that the bias is not misplaced. Even at the risk of being odious, I’d compare her to a Penelope Cruz or a Meryl Streep! Not one moment in the film would you believe that Vidya is not pregnant! Her mannerisms were spot-on! She was the character in the film. There was a moment, when she resembled the fiery and righteous Lolita from Parineeta, and there was a reason for that too.
The plot cannot be revealed. Simply, not. All that can be revealed is a cerebral, suspense-ridden whodunnit. Special mention of Vishaal-Shekhar’s music, including Amitabh Bachchan’s rendition of Rabindranath Tagore’s very inspiring ‘Ekla Cholo Re’. And thank heavens that none of the songs were forced in the film. There was just no place for it.
Calcutta (or Kolkata now) – christened the City of Joy – is the seat of this story. The city itself is a story in itself. Director Sujoy Ghosh and his team did a fabulous job in capturing various aspects of the city. Needless to say, to the person who hasn’t yet been touched by Kolkata, it will take some time to get the flavour. The lanes and bylanes, the Victorian buildings, the weathered trams, Kumartoli – where multitudes of Durga idols are made annually and many more. There is a reason to factor in Durga Puja with the plot of the film. The film draws its inspiration from the legend of Goddess Durga. Vidya’s character draws strength from the analogy of the Mother Goddess. The climax of the film is something that the viewer would never have expected and that is the biggest plus point of Kahaani!
Supporting cast did what was expected of them. Parambrata Chatterjee had a fine Bollywood debut as a young inspector, Kharaj Mukherjee provided the subtle humour needed, Saswat Chatterjee was haunting and eerie as Bob, the insurance agent with a cause and Nawazuddin Siddiqui was very able as the special intelligence officer Khan.
The woman who gave Kahaani the skeleton is Advaita Kala. Her story certainly made for a fine cinematic experience. Advaita is now planning to publish this ‘kahaani’ as a novel.
This film has a tag that says ‘A mother of a story’! Absolutely true. A film worth a well-deserved second view. Kahaani needs to sit in a film-lovers collection. Kudos to Sujoy Ghosh and his team for Kahaani! Thank you for brining back storylines to films. And for the protagonist, I only have two words, “Oh Vidya!”