The greatest stories are not those that are penned down but those whose ideas are well conceived. Sujoy Ghosh does exactly that with his Kahaani. There is uniqueness in everything that Kahaani brings across to you. By now, most cine goers are aware of the basic premise of Kahaani and one cannot delve much into the story in the review since you cannot let much out as that would be a spoiler in the thriller genre. So here is a bit of the story that would not spill the beans.
Vidya Balan’s Vidya Bagchi is married to Arnab Bagchi (played by Indraneil Sengupta). Arnab goes missing and Vidya touches down in Kolkata to look for him. She means business right from the word go and heads to the cops and files a complaint. She finds an able companion in sub inspector Rana (Parambrata Chattopadhyay) who becomes more than a cop for Vidya, a trusted friend. The story then takes you through the city of joy and as the camera meanders through the sharp by lanes and narrow pathways, the story becomes complex, thrilling and severely unpredictable. Vidya is compelled to believe that her husband does not exist while she tries to steer clear of shootouts, a hit man and a ruthless cop (Nawazuddin Siddique) who wants to use her as a pawn for his impending cases. Does Vidya give in to the myth that her husband does not exist or can she pull off an unprecedented move just like she has been doing with her heavily pregnant self through the frantic search?
Kahaani is gripping. There is never a dull moment in even a single frame of the twenty four that zip through in a second. Even when the mundane daily chores of the city are played on the screen, it acts like a breather and relief than a distraction. Kahaani has not one, not two but three heroes in the film despite any big name among the males of Bollywood.
The first hero is Sujoy Ghosh. What an idea sirjee? This is where wildness can take over from conventional wisdom. Sujoy had proved his mettle almost a decade back with Jhankar Beats but did not manage to woo the audiences with Home Delivery or Aladin. This time, the worshipper of movies has got it right, and big time. His master storytelling, brilliant script and better than the best casting has made Kahaani what it is today. I had to make a conscious decision whether I should rank Vidya Balan or Sujoy Ghosh at the first place but I had to go with the writer cum director since had it not been for Sujoy, there would not have been any Kahaani.
Vidya Balan, there is nothing to mention about her than simply paying respect with a salute. I can see several Bolly Queens burning with envy. How is it that Vidya Balan manages to bag roles such as Parineeta, Ishqiya, Paa, No One Killed Jessica, The Dirty Picture and now Kahaani, and no one else gets even remotely close? Well, credit to Miss Balan for having created such frenzy about herself, not only among the audience but also among filmmakers. Seldom has a woman looked so attractive, smart, intelligent, strong yet vulnerable while being pregnant as Vidya Balan. Apparently, Sujoy would have done Kahaani only with Vidya Balan and one does not need to be a film historian to assess why.
The third hero is Kolkata. Sujoy clearly pays homage to his home town and also explores her as his muse. Yes, the Howrah Bridge has been over exploited in movies, yes the Victoria Memorial has been a fixture for any movie based in Kolkata but Sujoy goes beyond conventions and takes the audience through the narrow alleys of North Kolkata, the underground Metro and captures Durga Puja during the festival and not on a shooting set. If Avik Mukhopadhyay captures Kolkata’s glitz and romanced the city in Aniruddha Roy Choudhury’s ‘Antaheen’ (An Endless Wait) then Setu (DoP of Kahaani) of the Taare Zameen Par fame has made Kolkata look vibrant, dull, bright, dark, a darling and mysterious all at the same time. Kudos to the Kahaani team to have come up with the version of Kolkata that has never been shown before on the silver screen! Kahaani goes on to show that given the right story even a three feet wide lane with more than fifty year old broken bricked walls can look enigmatic.
The review of Kahaani would be incomplete without talking about the ensemble cast. Parambrata Chattopadhyay as sub inspector Rana is perhaps his best till date. Never has his expressions and silence spoken more in a movie. His character was very well sketched out and Parambrata excels. His helpless stare, surprised brows and the mannerisms would be new even to the Bengali film audience who has seen him in scores of movies till date. Saswata Chatterjee who plays the villainous Bob Biswas is at his terrifying best. A man who has been playing a quintessential good man almost throughout his career comes up with a pair of eyes that can create a shiver through the spine. Another high five to Sujoy who manages to bring the best out of two prominent Tollywood actors! Nawazuddin Siddique is sharp and stands compact within his character and the character manages to draw enough rejection from the audiences.
There is another winner in Kahaani and that is the background score and the generous use of popular songs of the yesteryear. Ekla Cholo Re, Ami Shotti Bolchi or be it Tere Bina Jiya Jaye Na, they all are in absolute sync. Clinton Cerejo weaves magic into Kahaani with his music. Amitabh Bachchan with Ekla Cholo Re and Usha Uthup with her Ami Shotti Bolchi would stay with you even after the Kahaani is over just like the Kahaani herself.
Whether you are a movie buff or a lover of pure entertainer, Kahaani is another movie that further blurs the line between good cinema and popular cinema. Kahaani proves that in any movie it is the Kahaani that makes for a winner.