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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Movie 'Kahaani': A Riveting Suspense Flick!


Suspense films are a rare genre in India. You can very easily count such films since the sixties to the present. Maybe genuine suspense plots do not fit into the mass-entertainment formula mostly adopted by mainstream Hindi cinema called Bollywood. Efforts have been made over time to make such movies, but most often elements of suspense get submerged and totally neutralized in the flood of song-dance sequences, overpopulated action scenes and compulsorily loud comedy track. 

Kahaani (The Story), directed and co-produced by Sujoy Ghosh, successfully emerges as a genuine suspense flick keeping you engrossed and guessing till the very end. Released on March 9, 2012 the movie had earned wide critical acclaim and also the super hit status as a Bollywood movie. 

In a female-oriented plot Vidya Balan plays the role of the protagonist Vidya Baghchi (pronounced as 'Bidya' in Bengali), a software engineer in an advanced stage of pregnancy who lands in Kolkata from London in search of her missing husband. She goes to the Kalighat police station straight from the airport.     The police officials there give her a patient hearing noting down the details and a photograph of the couple. Sub-Inspector Rana who was rescued by Vidya from his eternally troublesome computer problems gets drawn to her immediately and joins her to investigate. They follow several leads, but end up against a dead wall every time as no records and no apparently connected people help establish the identity of her missing husband. One important lead connects Vidya's husband as a look-alike of a dreaded and most wanted terrorist named Milan Damji who was believed to be a former Intelligence Bureau agent turned rogue and was also believed to the kingpin of a terrorist attack on Kolkata metro railway two years back. He went missing after that and seemed to be strongly protected by certain people in power even now. This deadly lead puts Vidya Baghchi's life in grave danger. This should be enough as far as the story-line is concerned. You deserve the full suspense treatment when you watch the movie! 

The well-woven mystery plot takes you effortlessly on towards a shattering climax. With twists and surprises thrown in there was never a dull moment in the nearly two-hour unfolding and the movie is almost flawless. You may feel at a particular phase that things are being done too simplistically, but overall you feel strongly disinclined to try finding faults thanks to the realistic and convincing treatment. 

It has all the pluses for you to relish--you love the quintessential Kolkata--the city of joy--unfolding before you through stunning visuals and montages; you get moved by another critically acclaimed power-packed performance by Vidya Balan who recently got the National Award for the Best Actress for her role in The Dirty Picture; you are awe-struck by the innocent-looking lazy, smiling and nondescript contract killer; you love the spontaneous performances by the actors of West Bengal hardly seen or known in Bollywood; you adore the masterful script and story-telling and brilliant cinematography giving you breathless outdoor moments; and, of course, the ever building suspense that compels you to guess and keep guessing. The movie has as many as six songs, one sung by none other than Amitabh Bachchan, but these are used as background scores and do not disturb the theme of the film. 

The climax, set in the immersion day melee of Durga Puja, manages to prove all your guesses wrong. On this day Goddess Durga leaves the earth after accomplishing her mission of destroying evil. Few critics have criticized Kahaani for taking resort to myths to justify actions in the movie. But once you enjoy it as a genuine suspense flick to your heart’s content it is hardly relevant to consider the 'hows' and 'whys'. As a lover of the suspense genre you may find shades of The Usual Suspects (one of my all-time favorite movies and a film that inspired so many others later) in the well-structured climax. 

Kahaani is a not-to-be-missed fare and better viewed only in theaters. 

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