The Kahaani of Kolkata

So I finally watched Kahaani. A quick review of what i liked and what I didn’t like about the movie.
Likes:
1. Kolkata (yes I am biased). Sujoy Ghosh has effectively used the city as a character. We see Kolkata in Bengali movies all the time, but generally take its portrayal for granted, as a backdrop and not as a character. However, Kolkata in its darkness and its lights, its festivals and its soul have been woven into the screenplay of this movie so intricately, it is hard to dissect one out from the other. This movie was a visual treat for a Kolkatan that I am, and always will be.

2. Vidya Balan’s performance: Liked her. I am still not buying that she appeared before the camera without make-up . Clearly she didn’t. She gave a good performance, though.

3. Saswata Chattopadhyay as Bob Biswas. The most surprising element of the film for me, surely. Never thought I’d like one of his performances.

4. Pace: the movie has great pace and doesn’t slow down for one little bit. That, is no mean feat for Bollywood. Very impressed.

Dislikes:

1. Major issue with the way motherhood has been used, as a whole. The last parallels drawn between Vidya Balan and Durga and the religious angle was obnoxious to digest. In fact Big B’s whole monologue was unnecessary. Completely, utterly, unnecessary. It’s a pity they did this, which quite soured my watching experience.

2. The rendition of “jodi tor daak sune keu na ashe” by Big B was once again, unnecessary and irritating. Is Bengali the new Punjabi of Bollywood? (God help us!) “AAMi SHSHSHow-ow-ow-TTi bowlchi”

3. IB is stupid enough not to check up on phone calls of a woman in search of a husband who resembles a major terrorist , AND who claims to have spoken to him everyday for two weeks recently (from traceable phone numbers), when the terrorist himself is a sought after, on the run fugitive. Um- Okay! (It happens only in India?)

4.  Parambrata should try a new look. The school boy has suddenly morphed into a man with mustache . Not working, and this was the second time.

5.  Hated the abrupt exit of Bob Biswas from the story. I would have dearly loved to see  some character development there.

Overall rating :3 out of 5.  Not bad at all as a thriller.

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4 comments

  1. kausikdatta

    I find myself nodding in agreement with your sentiments, well… mostly. I think I agree with you on all the ‘likes’, as well as most of the ‘dislikes’. Although… one could argue that IB in India was indeed that stupid, if one were to seek parallels with reality in the movie. But I get your point. One other huge leap of faith has already been pointed out by a common friend of ours (who shall remain nameless, but possibly not for long… Hehe!) – the fact that despite Kolkata being a city of the dimensions that it has, the police/IB seemed to find specific people in specific places with unerring accuracy.

    Bob Biswas… I don’t know. I loved him just as you did in the movie. But spending reel time to develop Bob Biswas’s character probably would have taken the focus away from the thriller.

    About Big B. Ahh… You are possibly already aware of how I feel about this. Suffice it to say, I would have completely agreed with you if this had been a Bangla cinema. But it is not, though it sure as hell feels like one. I am sure you’d know what I mean.

    The distasteful ode to the supernatural aside, the Durga imagery has been used IMO as a means to enhance the Bengali-ness depicted in the movie. About the particular use of motherhood in the movie, I don’t know if this thriller could be made without that angle. Ghosh explains it in one of the dialogs towards the end; it was to garner sympathy of people that Vidya interacted with. Could it have been equally effective if Vidya were to be shown as physically disabled? I don’t think so. But I sure am glad that in this emulsion of make-believe and real Kolkata, there still are folks who would feel sympathy towards an obviously-pregnant woman and behave kindly towards her. Going by the real-life incidents taking place in Kolkata in the past year or so, this kindness no longer seems plausible at times – a fact that scares and saddens me.

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  2. Keshtodashi

    Comparing the trash that comes out of Bollywood .. I personally gave this a 4.5 especially for keeping a thriller-a thriller and not trying to force down every possible emotion in one single film.
    1) I liked the Durga comparison especially because of the end of the climax where Vidya walks away into the crowd of women with her job done but having gained nothing personally .. just as Durga was made to fight the demon for the sake of others … she did not gain anything by defeating Mahishasur either. I also agree with Kaushik above -that a pregnant woman creates a special ambience around her making the people feel proud of having been chivalrous to her -it is a very cunning disguise and quite ironic since she has already lost her baby but still has to make people believe that she still has the child.
    2) I did feel Amitab Bachhan’s monologue was a little too long but I guess not everyone who is not a bengali would clearly get the of parallel with the Akal-Bodhon -to Bishorjon period with Vidya’s journey for those 5 days ..unless spelt out clearly. I did not expect to but I actually liked Amitabh’s rendition of the song … i have since listened to it by myself in my room ..and it comes arose as a rare heartfelt rendition… a person who is not a singer taking the challenge to sing it to the best of his capacity without much musical support ..kind of resonates the words of the song .
    3) I personally don’t like Param that much … but wasn’t sorely disappointed with his work in this one .. it generally is impossible to overshadow Vidya … but I think Kharaj was making my day anyway 🙂
    4) Bob Biswas will remain iconic for the rest of his life … Saswata should get a national award for that role alone
    5) The phone info – I think they were trying to show that the police and Intelligence were not taking Vidya seriously at all ( as per Vidya’s intention ).. till the end they felt her husband was a look alike and left her on the dump …

    One blaring mistake I felt that should have not been used is the fact that it is twice mentioned that ‘Satyaki -was Arjuna’s sarathi – just as Rana was leading the main warrior Vidya here; .. whereas we [:D] all know that Satyaki -was Krishna’s sarathi .. just as krishna was arjuna’s …. i believe the correct info should have been apt to the scenario as well.

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  3. Keshtodashi

    and BTW … ki aar bolbo .. I think the film had me at ” Podotol ” 🙂

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  4. Well-written. Very appropriate points. However, I suppose I’m still too overwhelmed by the Kolkatisation of the movie and Bob Biswas to form an unbiased opinion.

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