Satire in the Age of Letters and Technology- more than just a pinch of it.
She walks in and you cannot help but notice her confident gait despite the distracting presence of the unborn fetus, her voice exudes a sort of self-determination like no other , she is broken, bruised and battered but lets none of that come in the way as she searches every nook and cranny to find her lost better half, she is charming, her smile dazzles you and every tear of hers evokes your personal tearful memories.
That is Kahaani for you and me- a gripping thriller peppered with emotions and a sense of reality that engulfs you as the story unfolds. Entirely set in Kolkata, Kahaani is the tale of a heavily pregnant Vidya Bagchi who arrives from London to look for her missing husband Arnab Bagchi. What follows is an extensive search into the bylanes of the City of Joy culminating in a series of unexplicable and unfortunate events which succesfully highlight the red tape and bureaucratic delay the common man is faced with.
The plot is as taut and as fresh as one could possibly be, it never fails to impress and keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout.You tend to have a hundred thoughts in your head: Is the protagonist a schizophrenic? Does her husband even exist?
A round of applause for the screenplay (Suresh Nair, Nikhil Vyas) and a big thumbs up to the writers Advaita Kala and Sujoy Ghosh for a novel idea such as this. The dialogues (Ritesh Shah) are spot on, the music (Vishal & Shekhar) is just appropriate and you cannot stop yourself from singing along as the mighty voice of Amitabh Bachchan fills the background as he hums Tagore’s classic ”ekla cholo re”, also the ammalgamation of Hindi and Bengali is just perfect if the setting is taken into account. Director Sujoy Ghosh surprises us with his top notch execution of the story and it is difficult to believe that he was the same man behind forgettable titles such as Aladdin (2009) and Home Delivery (2005) (Jhankaar Beats (2003), however, was one fine film). He brings out the best of the entire cast, never failing once.
Kahaani will also mark the rise of Tollywood stars such as Parambrata Chattopadhyay. His Satyuki (daaknaam: Rana) is the most endearing policeman Bollywood has ever seen and he enthralls you with his performance. Nawazudin Siddiqui (Black Friday (2004), New York (2009), Peepli Live! (2010)) is great as the caustic Intelligence Officer and Saswata Chatterjee’s Bob will send a shiver running down your spine. Tollywood hotshot Abir Chatterjee (Byomkesh Bakshi (2010)) can also be seen in a blink-and-miss but vital role.
However, Kahaani belongs to one woman- Vidya Balan. She is the soul of the film. Her eyes do the talking on some occasions and then there are times when you simply cannot read her visage. She smiles and you smile with her, she cries and you wipe a tear, she winks at a little errand-boy and you automatically wink back, her ability to engage with the audience is remarkable as she makes Kahaani seem like your own journey. From a sensuous Silk Smitha to a woman on a misson, Bidya (as she is referred to in the film by the several Bengali speaking characters) is a force to be reckoned with. I can personally see another national award and several other honors on her shelf, given 2013 happens.
If Vidya is the soul of Kahaani, the city of Kolkata is the heart. From the yellow cabs to the policemen clad in white,from the lanes of Chowringee to the bright lights of Park Street, from the dark and dingy guesthouse to the cosy Mocambo restaurant, from the glorious Howrah Bridge and Victoria Memorial to the essence of Durga Puja and the Kolkata metro, Setu’s camera captures the city brilliantly. You do not need an expensive air ticket or a Lonely Planet as the movie takes you on a tour of what was once the capital of India. For one moment, I could totally see myself walking down Sarat Bose Road with Mrs Bagchi by my side, but then I realized that I needed to go out of the theatre with an imaginary Mrs Bagchi in order to do that.
Kahaani is one film that moves you, it makes you reflect upon your own life, it asks you: what would you do if your life was juxtaposed with the protagonist’s, how would you react if your spouse’s existence was put to question? It is a fantastic illustration of the strength and power that a woman possesses and maybe that is the reason why it was released on the International Women’s Day. Goddess Durga is an embodiment of a fearless woman and of the feminine force. Vidya’s character is an embodiment of the invincible Durga herself and the film is one marvel that must not be missed.
Do watch Kahaani,you will remember this story for a very long time if not for the rest of your life – Aami Shotti Bolchi!