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An Unmissable KAHAANI! - Film Review

© Hindi Cinema Blog

Shah Rukh Khan once said about his co-star Madhuri Dixit: "Madhuri is the most solid man I've met in the industry. Yeah, you heard right. She's truly like a man. She's the most solid thinker, solid emotionally, solid believer (...) She's the complete Indian film heroine."

The above quote today inevitably brings to the mind current "hero-ine" Vidya Balan. In a male centered film industry, her sound script sense and her talent currently make her one of Bollywood's most regarded professionals, up there with the sharpness of the market-savviest male stars or the talent of the best actors in the industry. She has turned the audience's focus to women characters with a solid hand, making men and women alike love her for it. After Ishqiya, No One Killed Jessica and The Dirty Picture, it is today Kahaani's turn to blow the spectator away with Balan's ability to subtly perform within a team, focusing on her characters as individuals more than as female roles, while intelligently allowing her co-stars to shine along with her too.

Kahaani is the story of Vidya Bagchi (Vidya Balan), a 7-month pregnant woman who arrives in Kolkata from London to look for her missing husband but is confronted with clues that her husband in reality does not exist. It is natural to feel for a Vidya who struggles to know who is telling the truth while the story effectively morphs into a suspense-thriller, with the audience hanging on to every moment hoping to unravel the mystery and wishing that the main character will manage to keep her and her unborn baby safe.

Mrs. Bagchi's kahaani is however not solely about herself. This queen is surrounded by a tight circle of  highly accomplished actors and interesting characters. Let us take a closer look at the performers that make this Bengali story alive:

First and foremost, we should mention marvelously cast Parambrata Chattopadhyay, who embodies police inspector Rana and scours the town along with Mrs. Bagchi, becoming her faithful aid and unrequited admirer. He is a fabulous match to Balan's talent and his character has heroic undertones that are masterfully performed.

No less merit goes to Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who fantastically plays the consummate Intelligence Bureau officer, scorching the screen with his natural presence and giving his character oodles of attitude, layering it all to perfection. Saswata Chatterjee gives a chilling impersonation of an insurance agent who also earns his life by murdering on contract. Indraneil Sengupta, Dhritiman Chatterjee and the two child artistes also richly add to the performance quotient.

Last but not least, this is the only recent film in my opinion that convincingly incorporates a city as if it were a full-fledged character. Kahaani would not be what it is without Kolkata and the intriguing way it is filmed, at times colourful and vivacious, at others in all its dingy glory. The city silently permeates the screen with its presence and makes the audience fear and hope, alike an excellent actor giving life to a vibrant but mysterious character. Kolkata comes alive and we say cheers and kudos to Satyajit Pande, in cinematography for accomplishing such an impressive feat.

Yes, we all wonder why an inspector takes it to heart to help Mrs. Bagchi, how clues appear so suddenly or how the surprising climax came to be, but unlike a vast amount of films, the script takes center stage in this one! Sujoy Ghosh, Advaita Kala, Nikhil Vyas and Suresh Nair have done a superlative job in terms of writing, successfully navigating between a moving situation and a compelling thriller and giving audiences a film that is proudly Indian (observe Kahaani's deep symbolism in its continuous referrals to Durga Puja throughout its narrative) but universally capable of being well received. Sujoy Ghosh's direction is of sterling quality and suitably enhanced by Namrata Rao's nimble editing. The movie succeeds in keeping us at the edge of our seats.

Consequently, Kahaani is the type of film that we would wish to share with cinema enthusiasts in India and beyond. It has the ingredients to engage audiences from any culture. Sujoy Ghosh's film can cross borders and does away with Bollywood clichés, pushing storytelling forward. A definite thumbs up. Do not miss it at a cinema near you!

Visit the Kahaani Official Website
Read the Kahaani Music Review
Purchase the Kahaani soundtrack
Follow Kahaani on Facebook

Director: Sujoy Ghosh
Producers: Kushal Gada and Sujoy Ghosh
Cast: Vidya Balan, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Indraneil Sengupta, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Darshan Jariwala, Saswata Chatterjee
Screenplay: Sujoy Ghosh, Advaita Kala, Nikhil Vyas and Suresh Nair
Editing: Namrata Rao
Cinematograhy: Satyajit Pande
Music: Vishal-Shekhar


Kajal said...

I watched it on Thursday and loved it..

Mridula said...

Sounds interesting and have not read till now that it is a remake of any English move :D

Bikram said...

I have to wait for it to come here although this is the third review i have read and all asre saying its lovely


Arun Kumar said...

Thanks for your excellent review. Looking forward to watch this movie.

S.R.Ayyangar said...

After a long time a film has come which can truly be described as 'Edge of the Seat thriller'. Apart from superb performance by Vidya Balan, cine goers would now like to watch the movies of Parambrata Chattopadhyay & Nawazuddin Siddiqui, unknown to Bollywood who have given a flawless performance to win the hearts of viewers.Three cheers to the Writer,Director Sujoy Ghose for this classic film, never to be missed.

Haricharan Pudipeddi said...

Hi there. Very well written post. Loved the way you started. Keep up the good work and visit my blog at your convenience and share your thoughts.

KitchenKarma said...

I loved the movie :-) Generally I do not enjoy thrillers, find them too stressful ( my family laughs openly, I generally watch thrillers with one eye, so that in case they show something gruesome or scary I can quickly close the other....*sigh*)
Anyways went to watch it on a cold London evening just for Vidya Balan...I adore her and that adoration in increasing with every movie of hers...she is one Indian actor in recent date who has dared to go against the tide and do all kinds of different things on-screen. We need more of her work and also others following her path. Maybe this will bring about the end of three act heroines where they initially fight with the hero, then dance with the same hero in Swiss Alps and in the last scene wear a white sari and cry prettily and then hug the hero. Am I being too optimistic? Frankly I am tired of dumb divas.
To get back to the movie, being a Kolkatan, I can say that the way they showed the city is completely true to life. There is no dressing up or down and they have captured Bengalis also very well--a little curious, not to optimistic, little lazy, yet gentle and kind....
The suspense was very tight and eventually all our guesses were wrong! Excellent cinematography, editing, storytelling, frankly did not hear the music much was so engrossed...
I am so glad that the movie has been declared a hit!
To continue the discussion forward I think that last time a city was so nicely shown was in Kiran Rao's Dhobi Ghat....loved the way Bombay was shown in that movie!

Unknown said...

So glad you got to watch it early on, Kajal!

Unknown said...

:-) Well it really is not a remake, it is 100% original as far as I know, nicely crafted too! :-)

Unknown said...

Hi Bikramjit and Arun!

I hope you both can watch the film soon. It is one of the best I have seen in recent Hindi cinema.

Hello Haricharan and thanks for your thoughtful comment. I will check out your blog too :-)

Unknown said...

I absolutely agree with you, Sir! And I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat, just as you have very accurately named the thriller... I am also extremely glad that the film was cast as it was and am very happy to have discovered both actors. I hope you are doing well and that we keep enjoying such films more regularly too :-)

Unknown said...

Hello Suchi and what a wonderful comment to read! I can completely understand your love for Vidya Balan... I have long liked her but she has really gotten my full attention with every new film she takes on. She is doing such a wonderful job!!

Like you, I certainly wouldn't mind heroines being less pretty but acting better and being more picky about the roles they agree to play on screen. They have such a huge role to play in how women are perceived where there are so many avid moviegoers.

Even though I think Dhobi Ghat had some good moments or that it is a promising debut, I personally prefer Kahaani's portrayal of the city than that of Dhobi Ghat... I feel I got a full impression of Kolkata through Kahaani, which I did not feel I got from DG (Bombay). I agree mostly with M. Gilbert's review posted here:

Globally speaking, to me Kahaani had a lot of "YES! That's the way you make cinema!" moments. The mounting suspense, the love story that never happens but doesn't leave you feeling as if something was missing from the film, the chick-centered plot, the cast, the roles, navigating between a quirky niche suspense film and commercial cinema. Great film!

Abcdindia said...

KAHAANI, Really Good Movie. No Dirty Scene, No Songs... Excellent.

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