Kahaani 2 (2016) Review!!!

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Synopsis – A mysterious woman is charged with kidnapping and murder

My Take – Let’s make one thing clear 1st, like most Bollywood sequels; this one too has no relation to its 2012 predecessor. Despite that it’s hard not to consider this film as one of the anticipated films of the year, with director Sujoy Ghosh returning to helm the film as well as writing it, and of course acting power house Vidya Balan leading the film, along with a promise of yet another gripping thriller is something we all as an audience have been looking forward to. Although the film is a standalone sequel, for most parts, it can be considered a worthy successor, mainly due to its shared setting (West Bengal) and director Sujoy Ghosh’s steely resolve to not let typical mainstream contrivances come in the way of stellar storytelling, which is both reassuring and commendable. What made the 1st film an absolute killer was that its entertaining, layered storytelling was followed by a disclosure through which we realized that nothing had been what it seemed through the film. While, this film too features many disturbing and mystifying individual elements and successfully delivers some shock treatment for viewers throughout the film. The expected suspense, unpredictability, and thriller elements are missing here. It certainly begins on a high note, initial few minutes keep you engaging, but then post interval the plot loosens up. Ultimately, post intermission, you realize that most things in the film were more or less what you thought they were when they first rolled by and the big reveal is just so-so. This isn’t a story where one gets to predict or ponder, because for a large part of the film we know who the antagonists are, and what drives them. This thus stops one from experiencing the thrill of guessing and / or deducing, and instead makes us take sides and hope for an ending that justifies that action. Hence, even though it is predictable to an extent, it is also real and grounded at all times, largely due to some excellent production design by Subrata Barik and Kaushik Das. What is most admirable in the film is that director Sujoy Ghosh manages to keep the proceedings engaged with the help of Vidya Balan, who once again excels and proves her brilliance and spontaneity.

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. The story follows Vidya Sinha (Vidya Balan), a doting single working parent of Mini (Tunisha Sharma), a paralyzed teenage girl confined to the wheel chair. Vidya is saving every penny possible so as to be able to take Mini to New York for her treatment as she is optimistic that Mini would be able to walk on her own after the treatment. But destiny has a different plan for her as Mini gets kidnapped and Vidya receives a call from the kidnappers to meet at an address. As she madly rushes to the said address, she meets with an accident and goes into coma. Charged as a hit and run, the case is assigned to Sub Inspector Inderjeet Singh (Arjun Rampal) who is surprised to see that Vidya, has an uncanny resemblance to a wanted criminal known as Durga Rani Singh, with whom Inder also shares a past. While investigating Inder comes across Vidya’s diary which reveals where she has been all this years. What is the connection between Vidya and Durga Rani? How does Inder know Durga Rani? How is Vidya able to save her daughter? What was the motive of the kidnappers? This is the mystery. As expected, the narrative is absolutely rousing, nail biting and terrific in the first part. There isn’t a second wasted in pulling the viewer into the drama. Director Sujoy Ghosh must be commended for his tight screenplay and for building up the thriller beautifully, and making sure the atmospherics throughout the film are pitch perfect, lending a note of authenticity to a screenplay that doesn’t always make sense. The film also has a subtle touch on a social issue (child abuse) but does not preach about it and there lies the beauty. Vidya’s lower middle-class existence, her torturous past, the dashing cop with a tenuous link to her – they all fit in perfectly with the tone, as the film moves swiftly from past to present, leaving no time for the audience to ponder the many inconsistencies in the narrative. Ignoring the convenient consequences of characters interrelated in this slice of ‘scary’ life tale; it is safe to say that the motives of each and every character, including the minor ones, are superbly drawn out.  Like its predecessor, here too the places – Chandannagar, Kalimpong, and Kolkata, end up having identities of their own and almost seem like protagonists in their own right, thanks to sound designer Anirban Sengupta and cinematographer Tapan Basu, who are superb when it comes to turning places cold, menacing, maddening, and authentic, all at the same time, and in succession. Also, Ghosh’s eye is just as keen as it was four years ago, as there’s a wealth of visual detail scattered across the film; one of my favorite throwaway moments is when Inderjit chases a fake-passport supplier through his workplace and we catch a split-second glimpse of art forgeries stacked in a room. Clinton Cerejo‘s background score is dauntless in its effectiveness and acts as a catalyst to the duo’s efforts. It is the relentless journey that glues the various elements of the story by Sujoy Ghosh and Suresh Nair together. Because, even though we know that not everything is what it seems, we are also inwardly hoping for things to go the way we expect them to. Unfortunately, the film’s biggest letdown is the final moments. The pre-climax and climax portions lack what it takes for the film to become a gem of a thriller and it seems like the director is rushing to a clichéd end. Also, the conflict drops flat towards the end of the second half and a lot of questions arise with the predictable, forced climax which lacks the bang. Ghosh, who seemed confident in his conceptualization till the final 20 minutes, is clearly aiming at a similar sock-the-viewer-in-the-neck impact as before, but comes up instead with an unimaginative, more or less predictable whimper. Maybe because, director Ghosh seems convinced that both his films constitute a franchise, and that he has to live up to the expectations of fans who’d be disappointed if the new film didn’t have an assassin, two cops, and a moment of high drama that turned out to be visual deception. It’s not that Ghosh doesn’t have a fresh story to tell — some of the subplots in this film could sustain a whole feature by themselves.

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Still, by the time the (fairly shaky) denouement arrives, you can feel the narrative strain to top the earlier film’s final reveal. Though this film has none of the memorable detailing of satellite characters that made the 1st film outstanding (like the awesome Bob Biswas) it is unobtrusively insightful in its own way. The long-term effects of sexual abuse, victim blaming, the politics in the police establishment and small-town life are all dealt with effectively. I really enjoyed the sweetness of the brief romance between Vidya/Durga and her beau Arun (Tota Roychoudhury), his kindness to her and his non-aggressive wooing. And there is a refreshing, believable normalcy in the relationship between Inderjeet and his wife Rashmi. While, the ending may not deliver the goods, but Viday Balan certainly does. The media has for years now discussed her willingness to take on the physical attributes of the various characters she plays. While that is no doubt a remarkable quality, to focus on that alone would be an injustice to this fine artist since physical quirks can be used as crutches by average actors too. Balan’s strength is her ability to drown out her own personality for a role. Vidya certainly excels in the film; her deglamorised look suits the plot. Vidya Balan‘s characters keep you engaged wondering whether she is a victim or a perpetrator. Arjun Rampal is in top-form after a long time. He nails the part & enacts the cop, skillfully. He seems under control as far as his acting is concerned, thanks to a screenplay that ensures he is one of the most balanced characters of the film. The child actresses playing ‘Minu’, Naisha Khanna and Tunisha Sharma are adorable. In supporting roles, Jugal Hansraj, Tota Roy Chaudhury, Amba Sanyal, Manini Chadha and Kharaj Mukherjee are effective. On the whole, ‘Kahaani 2’ is worthy watch for its performances and screenplay despite a couple of major scripting flaws. Maybe because, director Ghosh seems convinced that both his films constitute a franchise, and that he has to live up to the expectations of fans who’d be disappointed if the new film didn’t have an assassin, two cops, and a moment of high drama that turned out to be visual deception. It’s not that Ghosh doesn’t have a fresh story to tell — some of the subplots in this film could sustain a whole feature by themselves. Still, by the time the (fairly shaky) denouement arrives, you can feel the narrative strain to top the earlier film’s final reveal. Though this film has none of the memorable detailing of satellite characters that made the 1st film outstanding (like the awesome Bob Biswas) it is unobtrusively insightful in its own way. The long-term effects of sexual abuse, victim blaming, the politics in the police establishment and small-town life are all dealt with effectively. I really enjoyed the sweetness of the brief romance between Vidya/Durga and her beau Arun (Tota Roychoudhury), his kindness to her and his non-aggressive wooing. And there is a refreshing, believable normalcy in the relationship between Inderjeet and his wife Rashmi. While, the ending may not deliver the goods, but Viday Balan certainly does. The media has for years now discussed her willingness to take on the physical attributes of the various characters she plays. While that is no doubt a remarkable quality, to focus on that alone would be an injustice to this fine artist since physical quirks can be used as crutches by average actors too. Balan’s strength is her ability to drown out her own personality for a role. Vidya certainly excels in the film; her deglamorised look suits the plot. Vidya Balan‘s characters keep you engaged wondering whether she is a victim or a perpetrator. Arjun Rampal is in top-form after a long time. He nails the part & enacts the cop, skillfully. He seems under control as far as his acting is concerned, thanks to a screenplay that ensures he is one of the most balanced characters of the film. The child actresses playing ‘Minu’, Naisha Khanna and Tunisha Sharma are adorable. In supporting roles, Jugal Hansraj, Tota Roy Chaudhury, Amba Sanyal, Manini Chadha and Kharaj Mukherjee are effective. On the whole, ‘Kahaani 2’ is worthy watch for its performances and screenplay despite a couple of major scripting flaws.

.3

Directed – Sujoy Ghosh

Starring – Vidya Balan, Arjun Rampal, Jugal Hansraj

Rated – PG15

Run Time – 127 minutes

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