John Doe???

Vulnerability is equally magnetic and bizarre. For the one simple reason that it evokes a plethora of emotions in the neutral spectator. It ranges from pessimistic pity to optimistic backing to even a lingering attraction. To such an extent that he ultimately connects with the goings-on and no longer remains a neutral spectator.

Director Sujoy Ghosh uses this factor to pull his audience into that frantic hustle and bustle that is Kolkata in his latest offering, Kahaani. Vulnerability just screams out at you as you see a pregnant Vidya Bagchi (Vidya Balan) limber along down dusty, greasy and shady alleys in search of her missing husband Arnab. She combs through every nook and cranny of Kolkata, only to find that any and every trace of his existence has been 1984-esquely blotted out. Is Arnab Bagchi a figment of Vidya’s imagination? Or is it a case of deliberate foul play? With questions aplenty and answers almost zilch, Vidya takes you along on a thrilling and nerve jangling ride through a Kolkata that’s buzzing with the raw energy of the famous Durga Puja celebrations.

The script of Kahaani is tight and engaging with no sub-plots or songs (except a few lines of Tagore’s Ekla Cholo Re rendered by Amitabh Bachhan). This, along with a lineup of well-etched characters, makes sure Kahaani stays afloat at all times. In a movie that has no big stars to boast of, small characters like the “running hot water” errand boy Vishnu, to the ominous serial killer Bob, make a very big impact. The vulnerability factor mentioned earlier also plays a vital part in knocking the wind out of you in an enthralling climax.

All posters and promos of Kahaani featured just one recognizable face. That of the inimitable Vidya Balan. That alone explains the amount of weight she carries on her shoulders. And one has to say, she has played out the part with aplomb.  In a role that showcases emotions from plain playful to outright fierce to heartbreaking sorrow, Vidya has proved once again that as far as versatility goes, she’s light years ahead of the rest of the pack. Two other performances that stand out are that of Parambrata Chatterjee, the endearing Inspector Rana, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, the antagonistic Intelligence Officer Khan.

To talk about flip sides in a movie like Kahaani is difficult, but I did find a place or two where the explanations provided may be considered to be on the fragile side as far as logic is concerned.

Kahaani excels due to its well written and well executed script, with some wonderful performances from all its stars. I give this edge-of-the-seat thriller a 4/5. This one’s worth your time. Go watch it.

4/5

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