‘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!