Kahaani Movie Review: Kahaani Ho To Aisi

Generating buzz before the release of a film is one thing and actually delivering to the expectations generated by the entire buzz is totally another thing. Without mincing words I’m happy to say that with Kahani, Sujoy Ghosh has gone on to confidently make the transition from generating buzz to actually delivering the right output with the film. And the release couldn’t have been timed better what with Vidya Balan winning the National Award as Best Actress for The Dirty Picture just before the release of Kahaani. The promos did mention that the film would have Vidya Balan playing the central character and that the city of Kolkata would probably emerge as a character in itself, but it’s great to note that the film still ends up surprising you.

By now we all know that Kahaani starts with Vidya Bagchi (Vidya Balan), a pregnant woman coming all the way from London to Kolkata in search of her husband, Arnab Bagchi. Co-incidentally Durga Puja is around the corner and the city is slowly coming alive with all its charm and splendor. Vidya goes about meticulously and works relentlessly in her pursuit and search of her husband. She keeps hitting roadblocks in the form of people who claim not to know of her husband’s existence or would rather want her going back to London. Kahaani is the story of Vidya and her pursuit of the truth and what ensues is told in a completely arresting style and Sujoy ensures that the audience is hooked right till the end.

Be it the characters (minor or major), the choice of locations or the situations woven into the plot, there’s hardly a loose corner in the film. As the days pass by and as Vidya’s search continues, the viewer can’t but help noticing the transition that Kolkata goes through meanwhile in the film as well. Starting from the lead-up to Durga Puja, what with the idols getting made etc to the culmination of the actual festival, the city of joy comes alive in its resplendent avatar. Even if u find an odd step somewhere Sujoy does ensure that there’s some explanation for that coming up. Watch the film and I’m sure you’ll identify with what I’m saying.

The writing ( story by Sujoy Ghosh and Advaita Kala and screenplay by Sujoy Ghosh with additional screenplay by Suresh Nair and Nikhil Vyas )  is spot on and ensures that the pace of the film doesn’t dip any moment thanks to the sequences that unfold. Be it Vidya’s interaction with the boy at the guest house or the tea stall or the way Bob Biswas ( Saswata Chatterjee )’s transition is shown when he’s in the LIC office and outside, the police station scenes etc all of them are wonderfully written and shot as well. The production design by Kaushal Das and Subrata Barik is absolutely spot on and certainly award worthy, no doubt.

If Kolkata and Vidya Balan both deserve top honors for making the film emerge so spectacular on screen then how can one not highlight the importance of cinematography in the film? Setu, the DOP has brilliantly translated Sujoy’s vision on screen and the colorful splendor of Kolkata has been captured wonderfully indeed. Be it the intermittent by lanes, the Tramlines across the city, the Metro stations and the suburbs of the city, each and every single scene cries out to you and shows you the beauty of Kolkata. If you are from Kolkata or lived there before the film makes you fall in love with the city all over again and even if you’ve never been there you still feel a strange connect to the city indeed.

Vishal-Shekhar’s music is of the rare kind where the songs fall in sync with the mood of the film and never distract the audience. Be it the infectious ‘Ami Shotti Bolchi’ sung with spunk by Usha Uthup and Shekhar Ravjiani or the wonderful rendering of ‘Ekla Cholo Re’ by Amitabh Bachchan, none of these for a moment gain more prominence over the film’s proceedings and allow Vidya and Kolkata to hold centre stage rather. The characters are believable and extremely interesting as well. Check out the manager of Monalisa Guest House for example who keeps referring to Vidya as ‘Her Majesty’ and his explanation of ‘running hot water’ and you’ll have a smile on your lips. As interesting and genuine as the characters are, equally praise worthy is the choice of artistes and their performances as well.

Parambrata Chatterjee is a true revelation indeed and this Bengali actor might just about widen his horizon with Kahaani. Already popular in Bengali Cinema with films like the recent hit 22 Se Shrabon and the Feluda series (Bombaiyer Bombete, Kailashey Kelenkari, Tintorettor Jishu ) etc, the actor exudes wonderful restraint and is completely a natural as Sub Inspector Rana/Satyaki. In fact I loved the way his character of a rookie cop is built up in the film. He’s someone who is new to the system and hence a lot more emotional and expressive and this is captured quite well in the film. And when you see him travelling back all alone at night by tram (shown many times in the film) and as he receives a call from home, it almost gives you a feeling that one could even have a movie made centred around Rana/Satyaki’s character.

Nawazuddin as Khan the senior IB official is brutal and a sharp contrast to the roles he’s played so far. Saswata Chatterjee , Indraneil Sengupta and Dhritiman Chatterjee are well utilized as well. But if Kahaani works and works wonderfully so well then it has to be primarily due to Vidya Balan. Even imagining this film without Vidya Balan and Kolkata is something that doesn’t sound good at all. Vidya as the pregnant software engineer in search of her husband puts up a scintillating show over here. The way she walks, responds to situations, bends or sits down etc are all indicators of how well she’s tuned herself to portray a pregnant woman. If she was bold and daring in The Dirty Picture then here she is completely dynamic and it’s very clearly visible as to why Sujoy has always been saying that there would have been no Kahaani without Vidya.

A special mention must be made about Namrata Rao’s editing which ensures that the final output is just about right and the duration (just about 2 hours) is adequate and the pace is more or less uniform. Personally as the film drew to a close I couldn’t help but turn nostalgic and smile as the climax plays out during  the Durga Puja at Triangular Park ( I lived a stone’s throw away from the place for a while ). As the film drew to a close I did ask myself if all that explanation at the end was needed and if the film couldn’t have ended at Triangular Park itself. But in hindsight probably this would go down better with the majority for the audience.For those who feel sad that Amitabh Bachchan’s rendering of ‘Ekla Cholo Re’ is played just briefly in the movie, I’d suggest that you wait till the end credits play out completely and hear the whole song as well. All in all Kahaani is a well made thriller and makes one actually exclaim at the end, ‘Kahaani ho to aisi’.


12 thoughts on “Kahaani Movie Review: Kahaani Ho To Aisi

  1. Thats two similar reviews. Second one also said that every actor, every location is chosen with watchmaker’s precision. Looks like a far cry from Sujoy Ghosh’s earlier attempts, for the better!

    • Oh!yes kelpha- Sujoy certainly has come a long way with this film. Do watch& share your views here on the same.

  2. This is the first film where Sujoy Ghosh shows his brilliance and makes me feel like a film maker to watch out for… Jhankaar Beats was average and less said about Home Delivery the bette,r though Aladdin had some spark in couple of scenes.

    Having a regional cast works wonderfully well for this film and won’t be suprised to know if it is a reworked version of Borivali which was supposed to be made with Amitabh Bachchan.

    Kudos to the technical team and its a time well spent at the multiplex.

  3. It is so disappointing that Indian Film makers don’t make hardcore genre films these days, they don’t even try, and then I find this film, and I am like, “wow, a Hindi movie so good”, now that’s rare……….!!!! I was never a Sujoy Ghosh fan, be if he maintains this, I am gonna watch out for him, that’s for sure…..

    • Salil-yes this film is a positive surprise indeed & I sincerely wish & hope that Sujoy Ghosh continues making films with the same amount of sincerity exhibited in Kahaani.

  4. What a kahaani ??? For me it’s the best thriller in the Hindi cinema . Without taking any western influence .. Sujoy has created wonderful original characters . Spl Bob biswas . His transformation was abs brilliant .
    Whole movie was so crisp .. And the Kolkata was potrayed so honestly … I couldn’t find any flaws in it .. Will surely watch it again

    • Exactly Moonstruck-what a Kahaani indeed.Saswata Chatterjee as Bob Biswas a real surprise indeed. And yes I’m in love with Kolkata all over again 🙂

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  6. With Jhankaar Beats , Sujoy did show promise.But all that was lost with Home Delivery & Alladin.But thankfully, Sujoy makes a smashing comeback with Kahaani.
    It was a welcome change to see a story centered around Kolkata for once rather than the usual setting of Mumbai or Delhi.The hustle bustle of Kolkata and the fervour of Durga Puja has been very nicely captured and integrated into the story.
    Vidya was very good as usual.It is time again to make women centric films i guess. Parambrata and the guy playing Bob Biswas was also very good. Nawazuddin finally gets his due and owns the scenes in which he is present.
    Paan singh tomar & now Kahaani re-instate the fact that not all is lost when it comes to Hindi cinemas.Hope this trend continues for a long time.
    If Sujoy continues this way, then easily he can be among the best directors of recent times. Btw, there is a rumour going around on the net that Kahani is supposed to be a rip off of an english flick called Ruby Cairo. Can somebody please confirm the same?

  7. What i loved about the movie is how the city was shown..I have lived my whole life in kolkata and to me all those shots portray a much more wholesome image of the city than a couple of wide-angle shots of a busy four way street and a few yellow cabs..
    Ruby Cairo & Kahaani have only this similarity – a woman goes searching for her husband(who is declared dead in RC by the way). That’s it. And by this same logic every murder mystery, love story, war time drama, yada yada are all rip-offs.
    P.S.- I loved the movie as a whole,plus Vidya’s character as well as every acting performance.

  8. This is not to promote the ‘good film which would have been a flop if not marketed well’.. This is on behalf of the ‘happy customer’, who ‘sincerely’ clapped his hands and left the theater with the ‘proper’ satisfaction of watching the ‘good movie’…

    ‘Kahani’ is not the perfect movie I saw.. It wont even be placed in my top ten list.. but it is happy seeing the shells breaking… when vidya balan got the national award, i was like hw the hell did she got an award for a dirty picture( which I dint c). I also cursed the moment when I dint had much choice other than for ‘kahani’.. But after watchin, it got into my recommendation list of must watch movies..

    The first and foremost reason is Vidya balan. She made me ask the same question by prithviraj to thilakan uncle in ‘Indian Rupee’. ‘Where the hell wer u all des tym’?? I knw she would hv de same answer too.. Seriously, she did a wonderful job, which could be understood only if u c the movie.

    Then comes the director Sujay Gosh.. As a director, he should be cinematically insane to choose such a subject and cast (except for vidya balan, der isn’t many established ones.) after an average entry and the successful completion of two consecutive big budget flops. He proved a master story teller with his thriller narrative on ‘Kahani’

    Kolkata is beautiful city. I knew this fact. It inspired me always after ‘ Mazhayethum Munpe’.
    But cinematographer Setu, together with the editor Namrata rao and director are the ones who told me kolkata is ‘so beautiful’. They added new dimensions and flavored it. Kolkata city plays a major role with its glory and the past it possess.

    And finally,on the cast and characterization. Diverting a bit. If u consider films for a SWOT analysis, I would say even for major hits, the casting and characterization will be the W factor or the T factor. Here, is where “kahani” shows its identity. Advaita kala was actually drawing characters from the people around you.. and they did casting so well dat u would wonder ‘wtf I knw him… and wot the hell s he doing on the screen..’ parambrata chaterjee ( ASI Rana). Nawazudin Sidiqui( IB Officer), Saswata Chaterjee(Insurance agent cum killer) were wonderful..

    Still it has certain flaws, a bit of drag and melodrama especially to the climax, but which solutes at the high end performances…

    “Kahani’ is not the Emerald or Ruby you are looking for. But it is a Gem among stones.

  9. Pingback: Anaamika: Trailer | mad about moviez

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