Kahaani (2012): Sujoy Ghosh's Triumphant Attempt at Bringing the Enchanting City of Calcutta to Life

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Murtaza Ali

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kahaani, sujoy ghosh, vidya balan
Kahaani (2012) - By Sujoy Ghosh

Our Rating: 8.0
IMDb Ratings: 8.2
Genre: Drama | Thriller
CastVidya Balan, Parambrata Chatterjee
Country: India | Bengali
Language: Hindi
Runtime: 122 min
Color: Color

Kahaani is a 2012 Hindi Feature Film directed and co-written by Indian movie maker Sujoy Ghosh. By striking a delicate balance between the elements of Comedy and Tragedy—the two masks that define the Drama genreKahaani serves to be a quintessential Drama while simultaneously succeeding in walking the tightrope of Mystery and Suspense. Kahaani depicts the fascinating tale of a London-based IT Professional, Vidya Venkatesan-Bagchi (masterfully portrayed by Vidya Balan), in desperate pursuit of her spouse who has gone missing in the bewitching city of  Calcutta (now Kolkota). In a heavily pregnant state, Vidya Bagchi arrives in  Calcutta to pursue the search of her husband Arnab Bagchi—a Firewall expert who has mysteriously disappeared in his native city of  Calcutta. Right from the moment Vidya Bagchi sets foot in  Calcutta, a miasma of doubt and denial seems to occlude her strenuous pursuit. The apparent sympathy of the local police seems to betray simultaneously a sense of helplessness and sneer that further aggravates the torment of her abject solitude. Incapacitated by her lack of wherewithal and the fatigue of pregnancy, Vidya desperately roams about the city of  Calcutta where she is greeted by the ugly realities of an ancient underworld waiting to unleash its fury. Amidst the city's perpetual hullabaloo, Vidya's only hope lies with Inspector Satyoki 'Rana' Sinha (subtly portrayed by Parambrata Chatterjee)—a local cop with a pleasing demeanor and innocent disposition. The natural affinity between Vidya and Rana soon develops into mutual bonding of trust, respect and affection as the two delve deep into the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Arnab Bagchi. Kahaani’s ostensibly straightforward plot has its fair share of intricacies that keeps the viewer interested until the movie's jaw-dropping climax.

Vidya Balan as Vidya Bagchi in Kahaani
Vidya Balan as Vidya Bagchi in Kahaani
With Kahaani, Vidya Balan adds yet another feather to her acting cap. Riding high on her tour de force in The Dirty Picture (2011), Balan packs yet another punch with a powerful portrayal of a bemused, pregnant woman in pursuit of her missing husband. Balan, in a bid to make up for her delayed entry into the Hindi Film Industry, seems to go from strength to strength making most of the purple patch that she has been enjoying since the success of Amitabh Bachchan starrer Paa, back in 2009. In a short career spanning just over six years, Balan has incredibly managed to conjure up a handful of larger than life portrayals: be it her chilling portrayal in Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007) or her earthy portrayal in Ishqiya (2010). What makes Vidya Balan unique is her great ability to get into the skin of the characters. In an industry stricken by glamour, Vidya dauntlessly seems to tread a path of her own that's richly paying its dividend. In the process, Balan has undoubtedly succeeded in getting her name registered in an elite club of performance-driven actresses who, over the years, have done Indian Cinema proud. 

Vidya Balan and Parambrata Chatterjee in Kahaani
Vidya Balan and Parambrata Chatterjee in Kahaani
In Kahaani, Sujoy Ghosh seems to have settled for a trade off between his creative aspirations and commercial compulsions. Kahaani’s multilayered plot presents a nice blend of Drama and Suspense with undercurrents of Noir. The presence of an extremely peculiar serial killer considerably spices up the movie's plot and adds immensely to its entertainment value. In contrast to depicting the classic caricature of a damsel in distress, Kahaani beautifully propagates the complex caricature of the beguiling city of  Calcutta. Like any developed city of the world,  Calcutta too seems overwhelmed by lies and liars, and ironically the only refuge seems to exist at the very epicenter of chaos. Satyajit Pande’s topnotch cinematography adds great detail to the movie at different levels, and is well complemented by Vishal - Shekhar’s background music. The word 'Kahaani' translates to 'A Story' in English, and Ghosh does full justice to its meaning by offering a masterclass in storytelling and managing a nice assemblage of Stage and Television actors who give memorable performances in Kahaani with special mention of Sasawata Chatterjee as Bob Biswas and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.as A. Khan. Ghosh and his dedicated team remarkably triumph in their daunting attempt to bring the enchanting city of Calcutta to life as Woody Allen had managed with the City of Love in Midnight in Paris last year. 

Vidya Balan in Sujoy Ghosh's Kahaani
Vidya Balan in Sujoy Ghosh's Kahaani
Overall, Kahaani is a wonderful cinematic experience that certainly goes beyond the realm of entertainment. However, despite the brilliant execution the movie faces occasional slip-ups owing to some forced incorporation of gimmicks and misdirection at certain points in the plot. From the Box Office point of view, the success of Kahaani is a great testament to the fact that a movie can flourish even in the absence of aggressive marketing and promotion as long as its high on quality and has an element of uniqueness about it. The movie also marks the beginning of a new era in Indian Cinema where filmmakers are intelligent enough to take into account the commercial considerations and practical limitations pertaining to movie-making, but not at the expense of creative liberty. 

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your feedback is highly appreciated!  

For more information on the title, please click on the following links:

Kahaani Trailer

Previous Review: Aakakshan (2011)

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  1. Brilliant synopsis of a very intelligent bollywood film without mentioning the important twists and turns of the film.
    It's always a delighting experience to read your articles whether it's a movie review or a sports articles.
    Keep writing!!!!

    1. Thanks a ton... it's indeed a matter of great honor and privilege to have knowledgeable readers like yourself commenting on my reviews. I eagerly look forward to similar interactions in the future as well!!!

  2. Fantastic analysis my friend but i still feel consistency of quality films are lacking in india be it in any languages.............

  3. Very well said... I am in absolute agreement!!! Glad you liked the analysis :-)


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