Thursday, 15 March 2012

Kahani - A story we want to believe in

By the time you read this, I’m sure you would have seen Kahani. Some of you would have seen it twice, maybe.
I can safely say that sensible cinema makes a comeback to the Hindi film industry.

Seldom do we, the people in the Hindi film industry tell stories of our cities. Forget telling stories about them, we do not even use them as good backdrops. Once in a while we may see Dibakar Banerjee use Delhi as a splendid backdrop (Khosla ka Ghosla and Oye lucky lucky oye) to tell his stories or Kiran Rao shoot Mumbai in such a way that it re-introduces us to the city we live in.
Kahani opens with a shot of Kolkata, and you immediately you warm up to the prospect of something different and new. Sujoy makes passionate love with Kolkata the way we have seen Woody Allen make love to Manhattan or Paris through his films. Mind you, this is not a stupid placement or government funded / aided tour, but pure, unadulterated love for the city. What you see in Kahani is nothing short of a treat.The lazy trams, the cramped alleys, the crowded markets, Durga Pujo is shot with splendid detail and care.
Sujoy lets his cinematographer, Setu, bite into Kolkata and give us a heady cocktail of cacophonous city. The dust, grime, color and the air of the city come alive in each frame of the movie.

The second lead of the film (Kolkata is the lead character) Vidya Balan is just as outstanding as the city itself. She is one women whose body of work might one day end up mirroring that of Meryl Streep. It is getting REALLY difficult choose the best amongst her performances. Vidya’s performance as a heavily pregnant woman is so damn convincing that just 10 minutes into the movie, you are rooting for her and you let her enthrall you. She gets you to do what most superstars (I’m not saying actors) do not. She gets you to root for her, go through  the roller coaster ride with her instead of just sit and watch her go through her lines. Your feelings / emotions for Vidya Bagchi only gets more sensitive as the movie progresses.

It has been a week since I saw the movie and I have probably read zillions of tweets and Facebook updates that spoke about how Vidya Balan has rocked the show. Agree. No two ways about it. But, spare a thought for the guy who made this whole movie possible, the guy who conceived this movie, and left no stone unturned to get this movie to screen.
(Pls go through the link at the end of this post. Once you are done reading the whole post, that is).

While most us know that he is more than a capable director, what clicks for him in Kahani is his writing. This movie does come across as his most passionate, most loved and most cherished work. This is one of the most smartly written work in the recent past. First of all, kudos to him for resting a very tricky genre on the shoulder of a woman, a pregnant one, no less.
The movie is like a puzzle where-in the viewer does not watch characters unfold the twists and turns. Here Sujoy sucks you into the vortex immediately. The viewer is taken trough a highly fulfilling roller coaster ride. It has all the elements of a classic whodunit. The story grabs your attention almost immediately, keeps you enthralled, teases you along the way, makes you hold on to your breath, throws little tit-bits at you and in the end gives you the high of a 12 year old seasoned scotch whisky. This is beautiful blend of Hitchcock and Satyajit Ray in equal measure.

While it would be criminal to give away any of the plot details it would be in the scope of permissible praise to say the writing is clearly not meant to strew red herrings in our way. As we go back to the film, at the end we see every detail, every twist and turn in the plot was meant to be a coherent pointer to the complete picture 
Though, it feels longer than 115 minutes, there is never a dull moment, as every character keeps throwing something at you to keep you guessing, wanting you to crack the code.
The experience is heightened by some razor sharp editing and a rousing background score by Clinton Cerejo. In fact, the score is largely responsible for the tight pace of the movie.

At the end of it all, you come away as a happy person, because, here is a movie, that satisfies the thirst for good cinema. It makes you believe that Hindi movies can indeed entertain and rewarding.  

As promised, here is a link to Sujoy Gosh’s blog on Kahani :

See you at the movie :)


  1. I also noticed Parambrata Chatterjee ( Inspector Rana aka Satyaki)...where was he all this time? :)To say that sensible cinema makes a comeback I hope it is not soon.. coz we are going to be flooded with re-makes by the dozen. I m happy, audience is giving sensible movie a chance :)

  2. @ Appy - Agree with you. But I have a diff take n it. Going by the response, it is as if the audience was waiting for a sensible movie. They are willing to watch and appreciate good movies. Pan Singh Tomar is a case in point. Make good movies, the audience will lap it up.

  3. To add to it , i guess, one more important character to the whole movies was the KAHANI itself ( the story) so entrhalling, crisp and ending with a brillant suspense...all one a shoulders of a a Pregnent woman..

  4. Cant agree more with your bit about romancing the city. Using Puja as a backdrop and taking it to a heady climax is truly amazing. One more movie that did this canvas was Shor in the city shot against Ganpati celebrations in Mumbai. Infact the Tigmanshu Dhulia romance with UP ( politics ) also takes on the role of a character in his films. Had the same observation and completely agree with your point.

  5. @ Zahid - Yes. I too agree with you.Tigmanshu is in a league of his own. Do read his interview in Open Mag where-in he says, Critic do write well about my films, but do not give more than 3 stars!!! We need many more Tigmanshus and Sujoys.