Blistering barnacles, this movie! I expected a lot from Kahaani, a hell of a lot, from savoring the first trailer to the subsequent ones to the music. All of them possessed a teething rapier-like edge to them. After the show got over, I was standing outside the theatre in a trope daze. Unsettled. Unnerved. During the interval, I was on a high texting everyone to go watch it right away and doped about the second half. Though I try to see the easily likeable portions in almost all movies and comment duly, only few movies have casted indelible impressions on me. Kahaani is one of them. Its actually aphrodisiacal, the one that makes me go home and write a movie. It’s a living proof of excellence in cinematic sleight.
Sujoy Ghosh, whose wriggling journey with the silver screen has consisted of the deliciously charming Jhankaar Beats and the ludicrously forgettable Home Delivery and Aladin, exhibits a side of him that oozes out awe from a cinegoer. He just revamped his bankability with possibly the strongest product to come out since Udaan. Again, if you have not seen Udaan, probably you will not end up watching Kahaani too, maybe because you dont prefer good cinema generally. Kahaani, titled as ‘The Mother of a Story’ akin to the titular image, is goaded to be different but still manages to entertain you, and above all, the movie grips and arrests you for the 130 minutes its running for. Believe me or not, you will find it hard to miss a frame, and if you do, you will unexpectedly miss a lot. We make a mess of thrillers more often than not, but Kahaani is an exhibition of a bound script, effective leitmotifs, marvelously sketched characters and formidable execution, both by the people behind the scenes and in front of. Ghosh goes backs to his roots and to Calcutta to innocuously but earnestly deliver this one, the one which is going to be memorable for a luscious span of time. From the first scene itself, you know he has got it right. The manic of Calcutta, its enshrined culture, its hues and blues, its food, its meekness, its gaudiness, its essence, its people and the nuances of each one of them have been captured and voraciously decorated on the screen with the closest attention to detail. I want to go back to Calcutta and experience it again.
However, this did not let him let go of the story he wanted to tell as a mere throwaway and fall prey to the vicious temptation of making another tourism movie that falters in its content. He comes up with a monstrously engaging plot and keeps the viewer guessing till the very end, smirking and letting out smaller details almost every five minutes, like a magician. The climax may have its share of likes and dislikes expectedly because the second half tries hard to live up to the first one and falls a wee bit short, but the overall effect is overwhelming, to say the least. The engrossment factor supersedes the scrawny scope of finding faults in the twisted plot. All of them together, Ghosh, Suresh Nair, Nikhil Vyas and Advaita Kala (Story and Screenplay) deserve high honors for exactly knowing what they were doing and not letting it get flimsy even once. He uses all his technicians and actors more smartly than he ever did and streamlines them towards a fine outcome. Every single technician working on this movie is loaded with the same raging fervor and does not miss the tone of the movie for the bat of an eyelid. Music is minimal but completely suitable. Ekla Chalo Re is going to stay with the listeners for a long time as Amitabh Bachchan tells us why he can do just about anything well. The Background Score and Sound Design is feverishly pitch-perfect, menacing and nail-bitingly effective. Cinematography by Setu is strikingly brilliant, he captures the city like no other, from the food stalls to the chai to the Howrah Bridge to the Durga Puja. You only crave more of him. Dialogues don’t go the tried and tested route of one-liners, instead they rest their faith in sticking to the context derivatively.
Vidya Balan, the name succinctly spells out enormous power, the power of a performance, not necessarily of stardom. She recently received her third-in-a-row National Award for The Dirty Picture and here I posit her to get the fourth one in a row. This is unreal. How does she land up with all these defiantly female-centric scripts, which are executed equally well, more often than not? Not only does she pick up the daunting challenge but comes down with a graciously heartfelt performance once again, this being her best out of the lot of Paa, Ishqiya and TDP. She pens and portrays helplessness, longing, desire, anger, curiosity, confusion and confidence with barely any infirmities to talk about. To say it elicits utmost respect is only a shoddy understatement. Nawazudding Siddiqui is a much acclaimed actor from various character roles. In Kahaani, we only get to see more of him as he displays a bravura understanding of a complex character. Parambrata Chatterjee is a good find for mainstream Hindi cinema as he surprises you totally in the role of a simpleton police officer, and is pretty much the male lead of the film. Saswata Chatterjee is notably creepy, but is another good find.
Kahaani may have missed out the hype that Dirty Picture had, but Vidya Balan has almost become a brand of its own, almost a Khan for the Indian audience. It pains me to see that this one will not boast of those high rolling numbers in its first day or first weekend collections. However, it should still do well at the Box Office with the burgeoning word of mouth and its innate strength. To tell you the truth, this is cinema at its best, almost. Kahaani quietly goes down in one of the best movies ever made, for me personally; it has all the ingredients in the right amount. I try not be shamelessly generous, but if the movie is good then so be it!
If you don’t end up watching this, please quit on cinema.
Rating – 4.5/5