Pras on World Films: KAHAANI (“A Story”, Hindi)

 ‘Kahaani` is inspired by real life experiences of novelist Advaita Kala`s brief stay in Kolkata. She wrote the story despite the language barrier, the chaos and poverty of the metropolis. Her novel is titled ‘Almost Single’. Advaita too had Vidya Balanlanded in Kolkata from the US to work at the Oberoi Grand hotel. She was retracing the footsteps of her then boyfriend who had worked at the same hotel a year ago. Advaita drew from her experiences to emotionally drawn the character Vidya plays. The writer says that she was fascinated by Kolkata as a very powerful city and hit all her senses. Besides the workers’ union culture and politics, it had beauty and poverty.  Vidya Balan fulfils the cherished desire of the original storywriter/ author’s choice for the coveted role.

Vidya Bagchi (Vidya Balan) is seven months pregnant and her husband goes missing at this crucial juncture. She sets out alone from London and comes to Kolkata in search of her spouse. She has no clue and nothing to rely on in the festive city. With her sharp Vidya Balanmemories, she contacts several people to reach a lead, but everyone tries to convince her that her husband does not exist. There is little that the cops can do since they are unable to trace any records of her husband in the guest house, office or even airport immigration. Things take a drastic turn when Vidya learns that her husband had a lookalike and perhaps that could get him closer to her search. But soon her personal quest turns into a political conspiracy. Though Kahaani gets to the point from the very start, the actual graph in the narrative ascends when Vidya’s individual search for her husband takes a bureaucratic twist, with the intelligence department coming into picture. The local affair suddenly turns into a governmental concern.  What happens next should be watched on screen. 

Vidya Balan

The backdrop is of a city which is bustling with activities prior to the grand Durga Puja festival. Looking for her husband Arnab Bagchi, Vidya gets embroiled in a case which is murkier than anyone could possibly imagine. Neither can the viewers because till almost the last frame, one can’t possibly imagine the twists that the narrative has in store for the viewers. Sujoy Ghosh, the film’s director, cleverly weaves a story in a simple, uncomplicated city which is known for its revelry and pureness. Kolkata, its streets, its people, its culture – all are beautifully included in the film. Ghosh includes the old murkyVidya Balan bylanes of the city which sets the mood for the grim plot.The rawness, beauty and grime of the city are stunningly captured by Setu as cinematographer. The writing by Sujoy Ghosh, Advaita Kala, Suresh Nair and Nikhil Vyas is articulate and immaculate, investigating the matter gradually and building up the mystery at every step. The story explores the case systematically, credibly and logically.  What seems to be a human drama at first glance is smartly moulded into a suspense-thriller.The exquisite detailing in the writing adds conviction to the going-ons as the mystery unfolds at every step.the actual brilliance of Kahaani comes in its climax that shall leave you spellbound. Amidst a horde of predictable plots and conventional culminations, Kahaani has one of the most impressive climaxes for a Bollywood film in recent times.  The city of joy Kolkata is also captured with all its pervading aspects ranging from culture, poverty, environment including the lanes and by-lanes and narrow alleys, hand-driven rickshaws to trams to trains, and most of all the Durga Pooja festivities.

Vidya Balan takes centrestage with great skill and restrained pride. Her laughter of joy when she bonds with the chai-wallah kid (Ritobroto Mukherjee) and her final breakdown sequence bring her close to the cathartic emotions that Shabana Azmi displays.

Vidya Balan

Vidya BalanShe displays a rare understanding of her character’s exacerbated emotional and physical state. The supporting cast ably supports Balan in each and every frame. Her Vidya Balan, Parambrata Chatterjeeco-actors display no outward or inward signs of insecurity in playing roles that are designed to be supremely supportive. A popular name in Bengali art house films, Parambrata Chatterjee gives a restrained and sensitive performance as the kind and friendly cop, Rana. Some of the scenes between Balan and Chatterjee hint at romance but it is left to just that. The director does not deviate even once from the main Vidya Balanstory line. It is also heartening to see other known faces of Bengali film industry playing some pivotal supporting roles. While Saswata Chatterjee’s psycho assassin acts are spine chilling, Kharaj Mukherjee’s podgy cop act brings a smile on your face. The film mostly relies on Clinton Cerejo’s captivating background score. It is devoid of any music, apart from Amitabh Bachchan’s rendition of Tagore’s ‘Ekla Chalo Re’ which is quite unique.  The only other music is of RD Burman’s old classics (a hangover that Sujoy Ghosh still has from ‘Jhankar Beats’ days) that are cleverly played in the background through some radio set.

Vidya BalanAdvaita Kala’s debut novel ‘Almost Single’ made her a `chick-lit` star and she admits that in all her work there’s an element of personal life involved. The protagonist there was a young, modern and independent woman working at a luxury hotel. Advaita has been associated with the hospitality industry for long. And, when she started writing, she realized it could turn into a novel. ‘Kahaani’ will be published in the form of a novel later in 2012.

KAHAANI.     Directed by Sujoy Ghosh and starring Vidya Balan, Parambrata Chattopadhyay and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

Production:  Pen India Pvt. Ltd, Boundscript Motion Pictures, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures

Release:  Mar 09, 2012 / Website:

Genre: Drama, Thriller


Producer: Sujoy Ghosh, Kushal Gadda

Music: Vishal-Shekhar  /  Music Director:  Vishal-Shekhar

Story: Sujoy Ghosh, Advaita Kala

Editor:  Namrata Rao

Production Designer:  Kaushik Das, Subrata Barik

Costumes Designer:  Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Suchishmita Dasgupta

Action Director: Shyam Kaushal

Associate Director: Abhishek Sengupta

Assistant Director:  Soumabrata Rakshit, Ayanti Sen


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