*Spoilers ahead, on your own head be it*

Reluctant admiration is what I am left with at the end of the movie. The synopsis sounds a bit off-putting, the journey of a pregnant woman in search of her husband through Kolkatta. The admiration heaped on by the press is also a very dangerous sign, the said institution is never pleased by any movie which a placid audience like myself enjoys. And also Indian thrillers tend to be rather on the comical side, unintentionally, which is not very much fun to watch.  But what with the dreary weather and procrastination associated with approaching examinations, I thought I’d sit through at least bits of it. And the film squeezed out appreciation from me like .. well, insert a brilliant Wodehouse-ish simile here.

Indeed, the film starts off with a very pregnant Vidya from London (whom the inhabitants of Bengal promptly christen Bidya and refuse to accept that there is a marked difference between a B and a V ) who is in search of her missing husband, Arnab Baggchi. She heads off to a police station occupied by staff who are battling with some software/program in Windows (like everyone else) to register a complaint and befriends Rana, alias Satyoki Sinha, a junior officer in the station while she helps him with his computer troubles. It’s all very puzzling, the ‘guest house’ where her husband was supposed to be staying has no record of him, albeit ‘records’ for them are a thick sheaf of yellowing papers, the National Data Center where he was supposed to be working on an assignment, has never heard of him, the ‘running hot water’ sign in the guest house whose taps with great caution grudgingly spit out cold water, if at all. The emphasis placed on the ‘two name’ culture had me wondering if the husband had an alias, and indeed, enter ‘Milan Damji’, which seems a taboo name in the establishment of the NDC,  and the Intelligence Bureau, and who is rumoured to be a look alike of Vidya’s husband. Also, enter Khan (Siddiqui in real life), a very scary deputy of the Intelligence Bureau who flies in to Kolkatta to look up Vidya, who’s stirring up trouble without a concern.

The film wins because of three reasons, the first being intelligent casting. Rana (Chatterjee) is the man to watch from the beginning, such a likeable character (you keep hoping the director doesn’t make him the villain just for the surprise twist in the tale) and what a  brilliant and subtle performance. Vidya is an actress. She clearly deserves all those awards which are being heaped upon her. And Khan is terrifying, and you never know whether he is a wrong un or not.

The second reason is a sensible script. Vidya’s character is an unusually restrained and sensible one for a Bollywood heroine, who’s pregnant and whose husband has vanished. Dammit, she’s even shown a body to identify and all that, which is a natural cue for any actress to drench herself with glycerine and bawl her wits out, but Vidya remains remarkably clearheaded, even logically suspects her loving husband of intentionally abandoning her, pulls Rana’s legs by kicking his legs (that was a beautiful scene), and jokes around with Bishnu, the running. Rather laidback for a woman who’s probably overflowing with pregnancy hormones, don’t you think ? It makes you suspect whether is there is a ‘Usual suspects’ storyline running invisibly. Well ..

The third is the beautiful cinematography of a city clearly loved by the cast and crew of the film. (That was Uthup singing, for those who looked the song up). There was a particularly alluring shot of the Howrah Bridge at night, and Rana riding a tram somewhere.

And the bonus is a very restrained, innocently romantic sequence between Balan and Chatterjee, treated beautifully by both the lead actors. Delightful, mature performances, especially by Chatterjee. A beautiful thread, which the story weaves on its way. Incidentally, there are a couple of other Chatterjees in the film too (hardly surprising), and the character played by one of them, a hired assasin who daylights as a life insurance agent (which, on deeper thought, is hardly surprising either) has apparently gone viral. But that segment was rather scary, I for one will be very cautious with an insurance agent in the same room from now on.

The director keeps you intrigued, ties up all loose ends in the climax which fittingly takes place at the culmination of Durga Puja, where everyone with two X chromosomes is dressed in red and white and smeared with kumkum, all very satisfying. The candle light vigil at the end, was unnecessary, but as  I subsequently found out that the greats of the Indian Press have also strongly remarked against it, I now don’t mind it as much. I was hoping for a bigger jolt in the twist in the tale, but not bad. People, watch it.

And for those who are interested in such things, here’s an extract from Wikipedia

Monalisa Guest House, the tourist lodge which played host to a pregnant Vidya Bagchi in the film, became a tourist spot among the local crowd…. The management further stated that contrary to the old-fashioned look in the film, the rooms in the guest house are well equipped with basic modern facilities along with a computerized registration system to keep the records of the visitors, unlike the “thick and torn register” shown in the film. They added that the “running hot water” actually referred to the water heaters installed in the rooms and does not mean a boy supplying hot water in a kettle, as depicted in the film.

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4 Comments on “Kahaani”

  1. ideallaedi Says:

    And doesn’t Milan Damji resemble Jeff goldblum, or am I too spaced out and imagining things ?

  2. It’s that good eh?

    P.S Why are commenting on your own article? 😛

  3. ideallaedi Says:

    If I edit the post, wordpress removes all the paragraph formatting, so it’s easier to comment :P. And yes, watch it

  4. Running hot water! 😀 Haha the film was worth all the hype 😉
    And ya, the resemblance is pretty uncanny!!

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