(Published in The New Sunday Express, dated 11 March 2012, retrieved from http://expressbuzz.com/
entertainment/reviews/kahaani/ 371474.html )
Cast: Vidya Balan, Indraneil Sengupta, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Saswata Chatterjee
Director : Sujoy Ghosh
Rating : 1 star
So Vidya Balan got a National Award for frying eggs on her pot belly. And now, we’re supposed to shower her with laurels for carrying a bun in her oven. Kahaani has been branded as a seven-month pregnant woman’s search for a husband who doesn’t exist. The fact that her fake tummy is so oversized turns out to be symptomatic of the filmmakers’ reluctance to bring in any element of veracity into the story.
Having been burnt at the box office with Home Delivery and Aladin, Sujoy Ghosh returns to home turf with this story. He ends up caricaturing Kolkata and Bengalis, stereotyping Tamilians as crooks, and stretching a so-called ‘thriller’ for so long that it sinks into its own plot holes.
Worsening this is the comic relief for the hoi polloi. Ghosh wants us to laugh when “running hot water” at a guest house implies that a child labourer will run to fetch guests hot water. He also wants us to be tickled when the owner calls Vidya Bagchi (Vidya Balan) “Your Majesty” because she’s flown in from London. And, apparently, the Bangla-isation of “Vidya” into “Biddha” is so hilarious it becomes a running gag.
The ending of the film is painfully obvious throughout, simply because of the way it begins. The first five minutes are the only slick part of the film, but they give too much away. The rest raises more eyebrows than questions, largely because you give up on finding any logic in a movie where Intelligence Bureau officials share their secrets with a cantankerous woman whose areas of interest include hacking into computers. And then, it falls over itself trying to tie up the loose ends in a rushed denouement.
That is one of the many ways in which the film feels like one of those B-grade action thrillers from the Seventies – the ones which you know couldn’t have lasted over five minutes if even one of the characters had been a little less stupid, or a little less sentimental. And a movie that is already too long to sustain any interest is further prolonged by a seemingly nostalgic keenness to give the world a crash course in Bengali culture.
Vidya Balan plays this character in exactly the same manner she has played all her vulnerable-but-strong-women roles. If not for the costumes, I would be hard put to spot any differences between Lalita, Silk, Avni-Manjulika, Sabrina and Vidya Bagchi. The supporting cast stands out by comparison. Saswata Chatterjee as the creepy Bob Biswas, Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the raging IB official Khan, and Parambrata Chattopadhyay as an earnest policeman are convincing in their roles.
The Verdict: The only thing worse than the storyline of this film is the pop version of Ekla Cholo Re, which is part of its soundtrack.