The one fear in my head while entering the theatre was the thought of possibly not liking Kahaani; which has almost universally been acclaimed as the best movie of the year so far. The thought had its roots developed in the dissatisfaction encountered with certain movies in the recent past (Agneepath, Ek Main Aur Ek Tu) that had received good reviews from critics and friends alike, to my utter shock and surprise later. Thankfully, Kahaani not just lives up to all the expectations but brilliantly exceeds them. Yes, it is the best movie of the year so far and if you have not watched it yet, well, you missed an opportunity the size of this to have an awesome movie experience.
The story of this thriller, as was obvious from the first trailer itself, is that of a very pregnant Vidya Bagchi (Vidya Balan) searching for her husband Arnab Bagchi (Indraneil Sengupta), in Kolkata. In the entire two hour movie, you are on a journey with Vidya through the lanes and landmarks of the City of Joy, searching frantically for her hubby Arnab, with assistance from a rookie cop (Parambrata Chattopadhyay) and discouragement from an angry IB officer (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). To reveal anything more would be a spoiler and I shall resist all such temptations, despite personally suffering from a similar fate, credit to an idiotic over enthusiastic FB friend.
Cutting to the analysis part, the key ingredients of any thriller are the screenplay and the final all revealing climax (ofcourse!). The screenplay is essential to hook the viewers and suck them slowly into the complex web of the story that the Director can finally let rip in the all-illuminating end scenes. Any one of these two going awry would mean a damp squib for the audience, those who watched a certain Sushmita Sen starrer called Samay many years back, would know exactly what I mean.
Kahaani delivers on both fronts with aplomb and credit must go to the Director-Writer Sujoy Ghosh (writing credits shared with Advaita Kala). A quick flash back on Sujoy, he made his debut with the awesomely mirthful Jhankaar Beats (2003) and then followed it up with the awful Home Delivery (2005) and later Aladin (2009, not yet watched to comment). For those, who have not had the good fortune of watching Jhankaar Beats, I suggest you watch it asap, as it is the Director’s best work till date (including Kahaani).
Here, Sujoy Ghosh does so well, that he even manages the fine balance between confusion and yet gasping-for-more feeling at the interval break. He creates an Agatha Christie like plot (big, big compliment from a huge Christie fan) in spirit, never mind the terrorism angle, keeping the viewer completely engrossed in the twists that the script delivers at every turn. And like a Christie thriller, the climax is completely unpredictable and mind blowing.
Though, the movie does possess a couple of weaknesses. One – the sheer number of characters that are introduced to the viewer, being a thriller, one is expected to consider each one important. And this does tend to get a bit confusing and laborious. The second and more obvious problem is the loopholes in the script with regard to logic. After the climax, the more you think about the story, the more improbable it seems. But these are minor thoughts and can be ignored in an otherwise entertaining and captivating movie.
Back to the positives, the performances of the main cast. Beginning with the big one, the city of Kolkata itself, captured vividly by Setu (Director of Photography), the city adapts itself seamlessly to the different tones of the movie. Next come the onscreen cops, both of whom play their part well with Parambrata Chattopadhyay being especially endearing. A special mention to Saswata Chatterjee, who plays the spookiest assassin I have ever seen onscreen.
But of course, it is the beautiful Vidya Balan who steals the show with a pitch perfect performance. She is excellent as the woman on a desperate mission, making the audience experience her pain but at the same time teasing them to think beyond the obvious. Calling her the female Amir Khan is not the way to appreciate her talent; she is Vidya Balan, gorgeous, unique and deservedly the number one actress in Bollywood today.
Ignore her Kahaani and you miss out on one hell of entertainer. Go watch!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Dessert Note (DN, as desserts are served after main course, a dessert note is served after the main article):
Dear readers, of all spoilers of the climax of this one, I fell to the most outrageously stupid one. It went as follows – the climax will reveal Vidya Balan as a ghost and Amitabh Bachan as the main villain.