Reviewing the Reviews: Kahaani

12 Mar,2012


Key Cast: Vidya Balan, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Directed By: Sujoy Ghosh

Written By: Sujoy Ghosh, Advaita Kala

Produced By: Kushal Kantilal Gada, Sujoy Ghosh


Sometimes miracles are known to happen. Everything happened just right for Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani. After the success of The Dirty Picture, Vidya Balan was on a high. A day before the film was to release, she won a national award. This just compounded the high-powered promotion she did for the film, going to the extent of attending every media event with that unflattering ‘pregnant’ tummy – her look in the film.


Critics and audiences were already favourably disposed towards the film, and though everyone pointed out the loopholes in the script, no critic was curmudgeonly enough to give it less than 3.5 stars.


Gaurav Malani of gave it 4 stars and raved, “Kahaani rightly lives up to its name and reinstates the fact that the core criterion for a decent film is a strong story. And if that story is in competent hands, you don’t need anything else. No big stars, songs, budget or even a customary male lead. For a (pleasant) change, the script is indeed the hero here!”


Anupama Chopra of Hindustan Times gave it 3.5 and wrote, “Kahaani is a nifty thriller with an enjoyment quotient that is indirectly proportionate to how long you spend thinking about the plot. If you back-track and try to connect all the dots, the implausibility of the story amplifies – there’s even a piecing-together-the-puzzle moment that echoes The Usual Suspects but this riddle isn’t a patch on the intricate web of lies in the Bryan Singer film. However, if you’re willing to think less, there is some fun to be had here.”


Sukanya Verma writing on rated it 4 stars. “The concept behind a jigsaw puzzle is most fascinating. Its three-step model involves drawing an intricate picture laden with buried details and fine clues, cutting it into several unrecognizable segments and assembling a jumble that carries a seemingly simple challenge – to fall in place, to make sense. Suspense thrillers are just the same. But very few films belonging to this genre are able to fit the right piece in the right place. And that’s what makes Sujoy Ghosh’s accomplishment in Kahaani worth all the applause that comes its way.”


Rajeev Masand of ibnlive gave it 3.5 and wrote, “As is integral to all good stories, Ghosh creates solid characters. There’s the do-gooder rookie cop Rana, played by Parambrata Chatterjee, who’s constantly by Vidya’s side. Their antagonist comes as the surly Intelligence Bureau officer Khan, played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who wants the search abandoned. In Kahaani, there is attention to detail served to even bit characters like an impish errand boy in the guesthouse who becomes friends with Vidya, and a sinister contract killer who bumps off his victims after greeting them cordially.”


Anuj Kumar of The Hindu also gave it 4 stars and offered fulsome praise. “A rare original story from Bollywood that engages both mind and heart, Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani lives up to the age-old adage that it’s not about what you say, it’s about how you say. On the surface it is a thriller about a pregnant woman’s search for her missing husband in Kolkata but its core attempts to revitalize a gender which is often clubbed with handicapped and senior citizens in public life. On the surface the four writers (Ghosh, Advaita Kala, Suresh Nair and Nikhil Vyas) plot a puzzle that you desperately want to solve but beneath it is full of moments that humanize a pregnant woman on celluloid.”


Surprisingly, Shubhra Gupta of the Indian Express gave it a relatively miserly 3. “Kahaani gives us not just a woman on the trail of a missing spouse, but a terrorist plot, data-crunching specialists, contract killers, evil moles, salt-of-the-earth guys. And it keeps us guessing, more or less. Which, for a Bollywood thriller, is quite an achievement, even if the terrorist angle turns out to have faintly ludicrous edges. In the first place, Hindi cinema doesn’t really attempt fast-paced thrillers with quite these ingredients, and when it does, they turn out clunky if not plain terrible. If Kahaani had managed to keep the edge of suspense as sharp in the second half, which falls prey to a few improbable plot contrivances and some gratingly explanatory scenes, it would have been very good indeed. But despite the hiccups, it remains engaging.”


Another 4 from DNA and Akanksha Naval Shetye, “There are few filmmakers who can handle the genre, and the deft handling of the twists and turns as well as the flashbacks show Sujoy’s hold over it. The film proves that Jhankaar Beats was no flash in the pan and after the trial and error of his previous two films, he can clearly take a bow for this one. Watch it and you won’t be surprised if you see yourself making a trip to watch it again.”


To top it, audiences have given it thumbs up too. Vidya Balan and Sujoy Ghosh have delivered that rare species – a critically acclaimed box-office hit. The awards will follow too.


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