Monday, March 26, 2012


‘Kahaani’ lives up to our expectations. A suspense thriller, it is almost on par with the best Hollywood flicks of this genre. And Vidya scores again!

The film begins with a very much pregnant Vidya Bagchi landing at Kolkata International airport – she instantly wins us over – even as she single-handedly tackles the sea of taxiwalas almost pouncing on her to bag the prospective passenger. From then on we follow her in admiration as she undauntedly goes straight to the police station, then to the hotel, and soon to various offices – in her mission to find out her missing husband. Her heavily pregnant state and ‘no-nonsense’ demeanor and grit and guts completely win us over - along with the unbelievably chivalrous and soft-hearted police at the chowky – the charmed Rana is indeed Arjuna’s (Vidya’s) charioteer Satyuki – dropping her off, accompanying her and assisting and guiding her in her mission.

The characters are etched carefully and minutely – Vidya’s little mannerisms don’t escape our notice – her penchant for cleanliness even in the ‘less-than-mediocre’ hotel room, her playful amiability with the kids, her sense of humour with Rana, and her ‘one-track-mind’ which almost makes her forget her advanced stage of pregnancy as she restlessly flits in and out of overcrowded by-lanes and narrow buildings in the various scenes. The ladies in the auditorium can’t help gasping in concern – as the stream of pedestrians could bump into her and knock her down in their hurry! Way to go Vidya – thanks for packing more punch to women-empowerment! Undoubtedly Vidya Balan has already notched a place in next year’s awards nominations with her down-to-earth yet powerful portrayal. All the other characters are props but they leave an indelible stamp of their own – be it the soft-natured Rana, the tough-nut Khan, the gentle Agnes, the sleepy gunner Bob, or even ‘running hot water’ Bishnu.

This movie is an ode to Kolkata. Kudos to the cinematographer who has beautifully captured Kolkata in all its varied shades! We fall in love with the city (despite some of its dilapidated offices and ancient filthy tenements) – not only for its culture and metro and landmarks and a few modern buildings but also for the thronging crowds spilling out on the streets, and the yellow Ambassador taxis and hand-pulled rickshaws (we thought they had become extinct!). The early morning scenes bring a smile on our lips - and the only song in this movie is in Big B’s impressive baritone – haven’t we heard this one before? The dazzling Durga Puja scenes – with close-up shots of the Goddess in all her grandeur and glory are scene-stealers. The icing on the cake is the racy climax picturised amidst the Puja procession.

An edge-of-the-seat thriller from start to finish, the absorbing story and taut screenplay keep the audience guessing through and through. There is not a dull moment as we follow the protagonist who wastes no time as she tries to connect the dots to solve the mystery. The well-guarded suspense is maintained till the very last frame. Kudos to director Sujoy Ghosh and leading lady Vidya Balan for the crunchy treat! Certainly more than worth a ‘dekho’ – for the ‘kahaani’, suspense, thrills, Vidya and the visuals - not necessarily in that order!

© Copyright 2011. Brinda Balasubramonian.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


(Penned on my mother's third death anniversary)

When I was little and made tall demands
Ma, you’d say, “Don’t ask for the moon!”
Soon a time will come when my grand kids
can plan their honeymoon on the moon!

With so much technology and advancement
can’t I hope for some 11G smart phones,
to call our dear departed
wherever they might be?!
Then my first call will be to you, Ma!
Remember you’d talk to me some 40 minutes
every single day for tidbits and updates.
I have a lot of catching up to do now –
It’s two – wait – three years since you bid adieu!

You considered your children as crucibles
to pour in your cribs and complaints –
Most of them insignificant and baseless,
A few grave, others beyond our control!
That was your nature Ma – harping on endless trivia!
And I’d typically pooh-pooh your unfounded fears!!

We’d go on and on about some day-to-day issue –
“The power-cut has been increased to three hours.”
“But Ma, you have the inverter, don’t you?”
“What will happen in the summer?”
“We’ll think about it then, Ma! Why, you can come down to my place."
“Oh, but I can’t use the lift there!”
“Why not?”
“Can’t trust the fickle power, that’s why!”
“As it is, you don’t go out much, Ma!”
“It’s all very easy for you to say!”
We did have good repartees, no Ma?

I know you never liked your ‘kids’ answering back!
But we too have our say Ma.
You simply loved to look for problems rather than solutions!
If they were minor ones, we’d let you cling on to them,
So you wouldn’t come up with fresh ones!

Some other day, your target would be the maid –
“You know Kala bai turned up an hour late!”
“It’s ok Ma! You don’t have any office-goers!”
“But I can’t have all the housework pending.”
“Well, Ma, she doesn’t have a watch!”
“Ok, go ahead and buy her one!”
Really Ma, you sure had a sense of humor even in your anger!

Another complaint was about the regular tender-coconut-vendor -
“He has not turned up for the past three days!”
“Have something else – ‘nimbu paani’ may be?”
“Can ‘nimbu paani’ equal tender coconut?”
I guess not – stupid me!
There could be no substitutes or adjustments for you, Ma!

Sometimes you’d be agitated with yourself!
“I keep forgetting and misplacing things.”
“Quite natural – you’re getting old, Ma!”
“Not me! Even you are forgetful – didn’t you say so?”
“Yes of course – though I’m much younger!”
“But you have your hubby to hunt for the stuff.”
What’s the connection, I’d ponder.
Stupid of me not to realize you miss appa!

At times you’d complain about sleepless nights.
“I took a sleeping pill prescribed by my doctor.”
“See that you don’t get addicted, ok Ma?”
“All very easy for you to say!”
“Ma! It’s a common complaint in old age.”
“How do you know when you aren’t old?”
I’d feel like tearing my hair but would end up
Clutching my head to retain my cool.
“Why don’t you make up with a nap?”
“A long nap will again result in a sleepless night.”
Always you had to have the last word, Ma!

‘Your brother hasn’t called for over a month.’
‘He must be globe-trotting as usual, Ma.’
'Tell me which country is so backward -
without phone facilities? 
And doesn’t he have the Blueberry or Strawberry….?’
‘Blackberry, Ma!’ I’d chuckle at your wit.
The next day you’d go ga ga over your son’s call –
His long conversation, his concern, care and affection.
You’d blow hot, blow cold – always spontaneous, always blunt.

Most days you had my sister’s company
at home and for small outings.
Some weekends you’d call me after your nap.
‘I’m bored – is there anything worth a watch on TV?’
I’d suggest a musical extravaganza or dance program
Which would have you glued for the whole evening.
Now whenever I’m watching them I can’t but think of you!

You were my window to our family, Ma!
Your calls would connect the dots
To uncles and aunts and cousins.
You’d talk nineteen to the dozen
And I’d be very calculative with my words!
Now I realize what I miss –
I wish I’d spoken what you’d have loved to hear
Rather than being just matter-of-fact.

I want to flip back the calendar by some four years -
Just to hear your non-stop chatter all over again.
Or I wish to get connected to you in the other world -
I know you’ll have lots to share about these three years!
I'm just waiting for another Steve Jobs with fingers crossed!
Believe me, it’s just a matter of time! Or isn’t it?

© Copyright 2012. Brinda Balasubramonian.