“I already figured out the suspense!” boasted a youngster on his way out of the auditorium, after watching the film, ‘Kahani’. “Yaar who cares about the suspense as long as we’re watching Vidya act?” quipped his friend about the film starring Bidya, oops Vidya Balan, Vidya Balan, and Vidya Balan. Hold your horses, folks, for there are other brilliant actors too in the ensemble like Parambrata Chatterjee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Saswata Chatterjeetoo who are surely worth a mention.
To begin with, the review of ‘Kahani’ can never be written unless one sings hymns of Vidya Balan who, on one hand can give the Khans run for their money and on the other, offer viewers value for their money with entertainment, entertainment, entertainment. After ‘The Dirty Picture’, the actor seems to be riding on the crest of her booming career, and this film takes her to yet another level. So now that we’re done with the obligatory ritual of praising Vidya Balan, let’s give the devil – the director his due.
After ‘Jhankar Beats’, a tribute to the legend, RD Burman, the filmography of director Sujoy Ghosh finds poetic justice with ‘Kahani’, where Kolkata is a character that hums a background score sprinkled with Pancham Da’s compositions. Like a phoenix, Sujoy Ghosh rises from the ashes of ‘Home Delivery’ and ‘Aladin’ to ‘Kahani’. A self-taught director, who grew up on Satyajit Ray movies, Sujoy Ghosh refrains from slow-paced narration like his idol to narrate the engaging plot of ‘Kahani’.
Apart from the leading lady, another woman who deserves applause is Namrata Rao, who has films like ‘Oye Lucky Lucky Oye’, ‘Ishqiya’, ‘Love Sex aur Dhokha’, and ‘Band Baja Baarat’ to her credit, and edits ‘Kahani’ with an exemplary restraint. A deep fascination for comic books, especially Amar Chitra Katha and experience in documentary films reflects the way Namrata Rao edits the film, employing a seamless way of unfolding the story – a must for any suspense thriller worth its salt.
A revelation: ‘Kahani’ is a suspense thriller and not a lament of a pregnant woman in search of her missing husband, like what the initial promos of the film would like one to believe. This could perhaps be one of the reasons why many were sceptic about watching the film. One of my friends opted for an escapist Hollywood film as he didn’t want to watch a pregnant woman crying and puking all her way to hunt her man. Maybe an alternative approach to its promos could have helped it cross its commendable initial box office collection of 13.5 crores in the first four days of the film’s release. Watch the film and you just might nod in acquiescence.
The story by Sujoy Ghosh and Advaita Kala (author of the bestseller ‘Almost Single’) and screenplay by Sujoy Ghosh, Suresh Nair, and Nikhil Vyas lends the film warmth and tautness walking hand-in-hand. For instance, it kicks off with a jet lagged Vidya heading straight to the police station looking for her husband, while lingers over the ice-breaking conversation between her and policeman, Satyaki/Rana essayed by Parambrata Chatterjee, talking about the tradition of a person having two names in Kolkata.
Cinematographer Setu captures Kolkata in its full splendour, be it the riverside conversation between Satyaki and Vidya, to the tea stalls and Durga Pooja.
The close up shots of Nawazuddin Siddiqui as a fuming cop offer the actor a deserving platform to demonstrate the histrionics that his character demands. If you might have missed observing this fact, the credit goes to immaculate cinematography. After all, a cinematographer doesn’t make his viewers notice camera angles, not even the close up shots, and yet effortlessly converse with the audience in visual language.
Director Sujoy Ghosh takes a leaf from Satyajit Ray’s Aranyer Din Ratri (he’s also adapting the original novel by Sunil Ganguly into a film), by letting camera follow the lead character, hence making the viewers feel like passengers embarking on this edge-of-the-seat entertainer called ‘Kahani’.
The director’s commitment to the film’s narration is evident by the way he uses or rather ‘not uses’ Vishal Shekhar’s mellifluous compositions in ‘Kahani’. The restraint persists despite the Bangla Rock ‘Aami Shotti Bolchi’ by Usha Uthup and Vishweshwar Krishnamurthy, and Amitabh Bachchan’s rendition of Tagore’s poem in, ‘Ekla chalo re’. Sadly, compositions like ‘Tore bin’ by Sukhwinder Singh, ‘Kahani’ in two versions by Vishal Dadlani and KK and a solo by Shreya Goshal, ‘Piya tu kahe rootha re’ by Javed Bashir will be confined to the music album. Hope these songs find pride of place in its DVD as additional features.
Institute of Moving Images salutes the film’s director, editor, cinematographer, writers, music composers, and entire team of Boundscript Motion Pictures Pvt. Ltd. that make ‘Kahaani’ a must-watch film, and Vidya Balan is an integral part of it. But let’s face it – sirf Bidya chamkegi!