An extremely quirky atmosphere is created by the camera, the narrative, the sound, the music and Vidya Balan. An experience that might seem incomplete if not watched on the big screen.
Kahaani is a film that I'd just urge you to watch. You want to watch it for the story, you want to watch it for the character
BVidya, you want to watch it for the actor Vidya.
Yes, it means I want you to drop reading this review and begin booking your tickets in the next window. Not only because Kahaani is a 'must watch', but more because I fear I might spill the beans. Any word I say (or not say) might give the film away and I'd feel extreme regret if I was instrumental in giving anything away that the makers have so beautifully guarded. Thus far.
But Vidya Balan is something we CAN talk about. The lady just makes it difficult for you to pick a favorite from amongst her films. She just adds on to the list. Her character's vulnerability is indistinguishable from whatever the actor might have felt. So stressed is the pregnant Vidya while looking for her husband, that you want her to relax while saying, "orre orre, shaant-shaant, nai to baby ho jobe" ("relax else you might deliver" in whatever broken Bangla I know). And this is in the first ten minutes of the film. Your emotions towards her get only more sensitive as the film progresses.
For a thriller that solely rests on the shoulders of a woman character, Kahaani does a brilliant job of exposing just that little amount of material to both move the story forward and to keep you interested. It teases you, the seasoned thriller viewer, along the way too. But mostly by hook and sometimes by crook, it keeps you wanting to crack the puzzle.
The smart writing took me as a viewer through a roller coaster ride in just one moment. A moment, a twist when I felt cheated. You know, how you engage in a thriller and you want to feel smart about yourself by deciphering the mystery from the material given to you. And then the writers pull something out from thin air and you are left sulking and feeling deceived. Kahaani has that one moment, but soon enough it recovers. It gives you enough justification that you don't feel like that big a fool after all. Sorry, but saying anything more would be unfair to the makers.
In fact, merely naming the genre of the film is giving away a little more than the makers intended to, if the trailers are anything to go by. Interestingly then, while the editing and the background music stay true to the edgy theme, the pace of the story never gets too quick to disconcert. Similarly, the rugged, sordid texture of the film isn't something you'd associate with a thriller. Even more interestingly, the mismatch is either not noticeable at first watch or it doesn't seem to distract.
You end up enjoying Clinton Cerejo's background score as you pick up R. D. Burman's popular songs from yesteryears, some of them in Bangla. In equal measure, you notice the quirky editing especially in the first 10 minutes - they'll put to rest any doubts you might have about the genre.
Speaking of genres, Kahaani produces one moment of romance that entire 2-hour films dedicated to the genre aren't able to create at most times. Same goes for the couple of times it makes you laugh too. The rare humor blends in very well given the serious topic at hand. Kahaani also has a couple of insightful moments where comments are passed on the prevalent system and you wonder at their truthfulness, righteousness, politically correctness and the debate they open the subject up to.
It might sound like Kahaani has it all tragedy, comedy, drama, romance. And it does. Not to mention one of the few times (first?), a mainstream Hindi film's camera has romanced Calcutta. But, it's all gentle and fluid. You are looking at it throughout the two hours and yet you don't realize it.
- meetu, a part of the audience
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