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Kahaani - Review

Kahaani

wogma rating: Buy the DVD already (?)
quick review:

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.

Audio review (subscribe):
[Poster for Kahaani]

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

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A few gun shots, people murdered and a couple of times when a pregnant woman's life is at threat.
  • Language: A few abuses.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: Cleavage is seen a couple of times - but very passingly and casually.
  • Concept: A woman looking for her missing husband.
  • General Look and Feel: Dusky and rugged.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 4
  • Story: 3.5
  • Lead Actors: 5
  • Character Artists: 4
  • Dialogues: 4
  • Screenplay: 4
  • Music Director: 5
  • Lyrics: 4

Kahaani - Movie Details

Kahaani - Trailer

If you cannot see a video above, click here to see it on YouTube

Comments (24)

Rahul:

Wohooo! After a long time it feels that there is a movie that you really really love. Will have to wait for a rip (the sad travails of studying in a country where there are no bollywood releases, except SRK :@)

meetu:

@Vishal @Dattaprasad sorry...there's a glitch in the matrix because of which I missed your comments. Just saw them. And a little too late to reply since I've already seen the film. :D

@Dattaprasad you are right. Don't remember which database I had checked while writing the preview post. oh well...will make sure to double check 2-3 databases next time. Thanks for pointing it out, nevertheless

meetu:

@Rahul I have a huge complaint against the film, but I liked it despite that grouse.

meetu:

@Roy So far, I've heard Eastern Promises, Ruby Cairo, The Mighty Heart, That girl in yellow boots, and Sunflower as inspirations for Kahaani. I have only seen The Mighty Heart and That Girl in Yellow Boots - and one can see a large connection with The Mighty Heart, especially in the situation. But somehow, the purpose and treatment are very different. That Girl in Yellow Boots has a similar style and texture, sort-of. The rest I haven't seen so I can't comment. I'd say even if you think you know how the film is going to end, Kahaani is a good watch. I am going to see it again in a week or two. So...

Rahul:

Watched it, definitely a very good watch. Will definitely see it again once the DVD is available. I could see why comparisons were made to Kill Bill, but the treatment is quite different.

Also, it was nice to see the film remain intelligent throughout. The hacking bit was portrayed rather realistically as well.

Only grouse - Amitabh Bachchan.

meetu:

@Anil ouch! Where was this? Hopefully that will improve.

@Vishal I know, even I want to watch it again, 'knowing'.

@Rahul Amitabh Bachchan grouse? Why?

Rahul:

@meetu - The accent for Ekla Chalo Re didn't sound right.

meetu:

@Rahul oh is it? I guess Amitabh Bachchan's voice is something I find very, very difficult to be unbiased about. Or that I don't get the nuances of the accent. :D

@Anuj :) Don't read too much into 'coming par with other reviews' bit :D Kabhi ho jaata hai, kabhi nahi hota :D
For me films that belong to the top rating are the one's that make me forget their flaws or make me want to defend them as if it were my film only because I liked it. :) Kahaani's last 15 minutes or so, especially the 'twist' put me off for a bit, as I said in the review.

meetu:

@Anil hope it gets better.

@Anuj ha ha. i get that quite a bit.

Rahul:

@meetu - I am no expert, it just did not sound right to me. Found this article, this captures the essence of what I meant: http://www.firstpost.com/living/et-tu-bachchan-saab-then-fall-tagore-238244.html

Nit-picking, I know, but still. :)

Also, there was no need for the Durga parallel in the end.

nikhil singh:

i jst like the story and vidya is luking suprb nd nice act doing by vidya i like it please watch frnd 1tym to bnta h yaro..

meetu:

@Rahul well, to an untrained ear for Bangla, it didn't sound that off to me. But, the article is to me over-analyzing. I mean, it tries to show refrain on commenting that Amitabh Bachchan shouldn't have been chosen at all, since he has no role in the film. That's like asking why should Sunidhi Chauhan be picked to sing a song when she doesn't have a role in a film?
As far as the Durga parallel goes, I think it was a parallel throughout. It added drama, I agree, and I don't like drama either, but it didn't bother me that bad here. I guess it's a case of 'to each his own' as always. :D

@Vishal I think what Rahul is saying is that he wasn't happy with the accent used. Generally, we do expect a certain level of authentic language in our films, else it throws us off. For example, even if the entire film is in English and there's a maid servant in the film and she starts speaks in English too, it will throw us off. I do agree, that we should appreciate that one person is trying to speak in a language that is not his native. But, that doesn't make Rahul's observation invalid, even if it didn't bother me as much as it bothered him.

@Varsha How do you mean?

@Suman :D :D

Rahul:

@Vishal and Meetu: As I said, I am nitpicking. I didn't really "mind" the accent (what with me not being a native speaker at all), it just sounded off to me. It just could have been done better. That's all.

Ashok:

Romance, thrill, love, affection, patriotism, hatred, assault, moles, treachery...everything is perfectly balanced in the movie...Great script and superb acting by each and every one...super hit.

Mukesh:

Loved your review, especially the use of the phrase 'romanced with calcutta' :)

I did wrote something similar. Do check - http://mukeshrijhwani.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/movie-review-kahaani/

Amit:

Fantastic movie. Brilliantly made and nice acting by Vidya!

nody smith:

Good kahani reviews.............))

mohit behl:

read brilliantly written review of Kahaani here at http://mohitbehlreviews.blogspot.in/2012/03/kahaani-review.html

MoviezAdda:

The movie makes audience wonder whats going on but as the story goes ahead and the mystery starts unfolding,the excitement reaches to higher level.Vidyabalan's sharp acting skills can really drive you crazy and make you watch the movie with more curiously.

Paresh:

A little late in the game, nevertheless, the story structure & unravelling at the end is a straight lift from Usual Suspects. What say?

meetu:

A little less than that, right @Paresh? Here the twist came out of the blue!

Paresh:

Yeah, but that too is a straight lift from Talking Lives!

meetu:

@Paresh Which part is? The exact twist?

Arvind:

Lord Krishna's sarathi is SATYAKI. Not of Arjun
This is big mistake in the movie.

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