TheCalmDev (Dev J Haldar)

ravings, rantings and ramblings

Kahaani – film review

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: 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!”


12 comments on “Kahaani – film review

  1. Gaurav Paul (@gauravdxb)
    March 9, 2012

    Good review of a great Kahaani.

  2. Malini
    March 9, 2012

    Thanks for the review. Will surely check out the movie.

  3. vibsbha
    March 10, 2012

    c dis is why i wait for ur blogs…it exactly says wht i wanna say but can never put it in words like u do…i just hve to share ur blog….. thnk u sooo much for this review..was wtg for it and totally in agreement wid u word for word 🙂 the movie from the start itself felt like i was reading a real gud suspense thriller (jeafrey Deaver is one whom i ❤ and so sompared it to him) each scene is like "now whts gonna happen" ..superb superb… no nonsense film… thnk u again and am sharing this blog of urs wid ur permission 🙂

    • You are very kind. Sure, you can share the link to the blog. Thank you.
      I just got word from the director (via Twitter) that he loved my review! 🙂

  4. vibsbha
    March 10, 2012

    Sujoy ghosh ….wow… all respect for him after this movie 🙂
    Congrats !!!!!! review well written 🙂

  5. Prakash Dadlani
    March 10, 2012

    Hi Calm Dev…. very good review. the best part is that you have provided the names of the supporting cast.

    when was the last you went for a movie with very little or no expectation and come out highly satisfied. It doesn’t happen too often. I went to this movie with no expectation – infact I didn’t even know who has directed it. I only knew of the story as in search of missing husband but that says nothing of the movie.

    Sujoy Ghosh – had an immensely likeable debut (Jhankaar Beats) after which there was a downslide. But then what a come back with brilliantly told Kahaani.

    Vidya Balan – ab kya bolein is super talented actress ke liye. I would only say thanks to her to say us from the glam doll show which we have been subjected to all these years. Vidya is in the league of performers like Meena Kumari, Waheeda Rehman, Nutan and Nargis.

    I must say that at the end of the show I did have issues with the story as such but then Sujoy and Vidya have worked magic in making sure that the viewer’s attention is not diverted to the flaws during the show. this was one hell of an experience – from start to finish.

    Sujoy Ghosh shows that the director is the boss….. that there is cinema without glamour quotient, without item number, without exotic locales and designer dresses. thanks Sujoy for reinstating our faith in Indian cinema.

    • Prakash thank you for your views. Agree.
      Thing is that nothing really is fault-free but the idea is that there are a few things that you are willing to overlook as cinematic justice, if I can coin that like poetic justice!
      I usually think of Anand when I think of storylines in films. Cant be blamed when films back in the days, were made where the story was the hero!

  6. Pingback: Movie Review – Kahaani (2012) « jhakaasyabakwaas

  7. swapna
    March 11, 2012

    Great review just one point though Advaita kala is a woman, she wrote the Fabulous chick lit Almost Single also the script for Anjaana Anjaani.

    • Swapna, thank you. I stand corrected.
      Judging by the name, I thought it was the opposite gender. Makes much more sense now! 🙂

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