Film Review: Kahaani

Directed by: Sujoy Ghosh

Starring: Vidya Balan, Parambrata Chatterjee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Saswata Chatterjee

All pictures courtesy of:

WARNING: Contains spoilers which will hamper your enjoyment of Kahaani if you have not seen it. If that is the case,kindly revisit after viewing the film. If you have seen it – read on!

One of the best ways to watch a film is to know absolutely nothing about it. Whether it was the trailer or publicity tidbits, I avoided anything to do with Kahaani like the plague. Not because I dislike Vidya or have anything against the film itself – in fact, it was the opposite; I was so eager to see Kahaani and enjoy it without any unrealistic expectation, that I imposed a media blackout on the film. As well as being Vidya’s next offering after The Dirty Picture, it was also the next film I was seeing after Paan Singh Tomar (which is my favourite film of 2012 so far), therefore any unnecessary hype would certainly rain on my parade.

Luckily, I didn’t need to worry so much – Kahaani is a brilliant roller-coaster ride of a film which grabs the viewer from the outset and takes its time to unfold with plenty of surprises to be had. What I really liked was how Kahaani managed to multitask so effortlessly – characterisation, relevant sub-plots (that did not distract nor slow down the momentum of the film) as well as presenting Kolkota in a way that befitted the film but also felt very realistic. I also loved how every loose end was neatly tied up as well as the way the story is set up for repeat viewings – with careful layering, there is clearly more than meets the eye and an interesting sub-text hidden inside Kahaani.

Performance wise, the script gives ample scope and opportunity to its actors and they don’t let us down either. Parambratta Chatterjee is superb as Rana, playing the role with determination,ease and slipping gears between supporting act as well as carrying the film when needed. Siddiqui is excellent as Khan, giving Khan a headstrong veneer and earning the viewer’s grudging respect with his portrayal. Chatterjee is simply brilliant as the contract killer, genuinely exuding a dark menace and pitching the dark humour surrounding his character with perfect precision as well as being a scary character.

No surprises here though, Kahaani belongs to Vidya Balan who brings her namesake to life with a superlative performance, easily meeting the demands of the role with an effortlessness that is compelling and entertaining to watch. Whether it is the vulnerable woman overwhelmed by the circumstances thrown at her or the determination to find her husband or indeed handling the curveball thrown at the end, Vidya does it all with aplomb and still has time to coax good performances from the child actors. This really is a perfect follow up to The Dirty Picture and shows Vidya to be a versatile actress who clearly has bags of potential to be showcased and needs to be challenged beyond regular Hindi cinema fare with tailor made roles; not only to push the boundaries put upon Hindi film actresses but to also add to what is already becoming a formidable body of work as an actor.

I really enjoyed Kahaani and have to say my media blackout worked a treat as I genuinely was able to enjoy the film for what it was. In the wrong hands, Kahaani could have gone horribly wrong but luckily, Ghosh runs a tight ship, carefully treading the line between commercial and offbeat and managing to entertain the entire audience without compromising on integrity or intelligence. Quite simply, coming on the back of Paan Singh Tomar, Kahaani proves Hindi cinema can keep to a consistent high standard and produce good films in different genres consecutively. Definitely worth a watch!


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