Kahaani 2- A Review

Image result for kahaani 2 posterSujoy Ghosh and Vidya Balan team up for a follow up to 2012’s thriller Kahaani in Kahaani 2. Kahaani to me is a landmark movie and possibly the best thriller to come out of Bollywood in since forever. With the trailer whetting the appetite I was suitably excited despite the lackluster title name. Does the Balan Ghosh combo work again or will the curse of Arjun Rampal strike again?

The story starts sinisterly enough, we see a desperate Vidya Sinha looking for her paraplegic, wheelchair bound daughter who has gone missing. While running to find her daughter Vidya is hit by an oncoming car and slips into coma. Inspector Inderjeet played by Arjun Rampal with his wooden acting intact shares a secret he cannot let slip but which somehow plays his driving force through the entirety of the film. Vidya Balan plays Vidya Sinha, a single mother raising a paraplegic daughter but just like Kahaani here too there might be a case of mistaken identity or perhaps something more sinister going on. A majority of the story unfolds as Inderjeet reads through Vidya’s diary which he finds taped to the back of a drawer in her house. There are so many things wrong with how each puzzle piece connects that it is unbelievable that the same team was responsible for the watertight Kahaani. Everything just seems to be taking its inspiration from Rampal’s acting “Meh! Let’s just go with this”.

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My biggest problem is with how when Inderjeet reads the diary there is a voice over in Vidya’s voice and then we are taken into another storyline and even in that storyline everything that Vidya Balan is thinking is voiced out loud. It’s annoying and insulting at the same time when you expect so little from your audience. There are intriguing plot points which could have made for an explosive narrative but are dealt with in such a shambolic way that it all seems to be coming off at the seams. The second half of the film seems to drag on forever and the element of surprise is massively lacking. At this point it is essentially paint by numbers and the acting also fails to lift it beyond the mundane. I remember re-watching Kahaani a little while ago and noticing only for the first time when Vidya Balan is pushed in front of the train she reaches out for something in her hair and having seen the climax once before it all ties in so well. Here there is no such nuance. The central plot surrounding child abuse also seems to half baked, there is so much more that could be done with it and how it becomes the driving force for Vidya Balan. And while from Kahaani the character of Bob Biswas was endearing and terrorizing in equal measure here the main assassin is essentially someone doing a bad parody of a north-easterner with a weird affectation to their speech. Oh and a special mention to the actress who plays Arjun Rampal’s wife – what the actual f*#k! Why so much nagging and that voice! Uggh I would rather listen to nails on a chalkboard.

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Stay at home and rewatch Kahaani instead and don’t waste your time and energy on this underdeveloped, poorly acted and a story that lacks any thrill or common sense. It is a complete contrast to what made Kahaani so special. Vidya Balan’s acting is sub-par, the supporting characters are used as mere props, the cinematography which gloriously captured the crumbling Kolkotta is underwhelming here.

TE3N – A Review

Ribhu Dasgupta directs Amitabh Bachchan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vidya Balan in the mystery thriller Te3n. With talent like this and the executive producer stewardship of Sujoy Ghosh who in my opinion directed Bollywood’s best thriller Kahaani, this had me excited.

 

The opening sequence had me sit up and take notice. What the hell was going on, Amitabh choking on a garbage bag, Siddiqui driving past and crashing – this was going to be dark and twisted and I was going to love it. Sadly things start to fizzle out after the initial sizzle with only an occasional sputter of genuine surprise.

The story follows Amitabh’s John who is pursuing the course of justice for his dead granddaughter who was kidnapped 8 years ago. He visits the police station every day to find out of there has been any progress made on the case. With no new leads Vidya Balan sends him away compassionately each day, urging him to find closure and spend time with his beautiful wife. Cue the wife – a nag of the first order. You can understand why John would want to seek solace in the police station each day. John also reaches out to Father Martin who used to be inspector Martin played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui. We don’t really get an insight into why he switches the uniform. Not unlike Irrfan Khan who is a fine actor who seems to be turning into  a victim of his own hype I am beginning to tire of Siddiqui’s overly self-assured acting. This performance is a phone-in and especially the second half when he and Vidya deliver dialogue like they are camera blocking and rehearsing scenes without any real conviction.

When it comes to mysteries and thrillers, coincidence is the crutch of the lazy and Dasgupta and screen writers Bijesh Jayrajan and Suresh Nair rely too much on coincidence. The first one when Amitabh finds a needle in a haystack shopping for fish and then when another character suddenly remembers a small but significant detail when Amitabh is fixing his scooter’s spark plug. The writing which seems to hold promise in the first half loses all steam in the second half where important plot details are discussed as afterthoughts. The total disregard to logic and law is baffling too. Amitabh breaks and enters many a houses to find answers and curiously enough after catching one of the “suspects” he takes him along for a tram ride through Kolkata and does the interrogation on it!

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Disappointments aside what lifts the movie above being abjectly terrible is the grand old man of Bollywood. Amitabh Bachchan defies the law of averages and keeps getting better with every progressing movie. You feel the burden the last 8 years have taken on him, his tired eyes, slightly confused expression, and the gape mouthed blank stare, he is brilliant. His vulnerability moves you, his resolve inspires you. Every time he is on the screen you forget the gaping plot holes and are focused on his craft. The second half suffers with a lesser screen time for Amitabh. The twist just before the interval and how the story manages to sort itself out towards a semi-logical conclusion is commendable but only because Amitabh keeps you interested.

 

The music by Clinton Cerejo and the vocals by Amitabh make it an enjoyable accompaniment to Tushar Kanti Ray’s camerawork who frames the crumbling Kolkata beautifully.

 

Adapted from Korean film Montages the choice of movie’s name is the least of its baffling choices. A half-hearted attempt at the second half and haphazard screenplay stop this one short of being a fantastic movie. Watch it for a mildly amusing story and for Amitabh and continue to marvel at how after 5 decades in the film industry he never ceases to amaze.

Kahaani – A Review

Sujoy Ghosh directs Vidya Balan in Kahaani . Sujoy who’s had more misses than hits in his foray into Hindi Cinema directs the reigning Queen of box office fresh off of a series of best actress wins for her portrayal of Silk Smitha in Dirty Picture.

At its core Kahaani is a thriller – with a pregnant Vidya Balan looking for her husband who has gone missing. But the treatment meted to this simplistic story with a climax that John Le Carre would be proud of – is what sets this movie apart from the run of the mill thrillers.

The movie starts off with an ominously Fringe like opening – you know that you are in for a thrilling ride – every time a emotional angle of the movie could be played up and made to exaggerate Ghosh is able to hold back and let the audience feel it for themselves rather than it be shoved down their throat. This is this movies biggest USP in from my perspective.

Vidya Balan as the Lead Vidya (Biddaaa) Bagchi is phenomenal, she carries the entire weight of the movie on her very capable shoulders – something she has proved to be very adept at in the past. Every time a corny dialogue/situation threatens to rear its ugly head she manages to charm it into submission and make it believable and personal for the audience. Parambrata Chatterjee as Satyaki Sinha aka Rana is a revelation he is both earnest and clueless in a most endearing of fashion. Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Khan – the Senior Officer of Information Bureau is menacing till he finds his match and then he is left just as equally dumbfounded as Rana.

The movie is littered with memorable characters that will stay with you till much later – take Bob Biswas the insurance agent – an easy target for a caricature performance but done full justice by Saswata Chatterjee (the actor whose name Google helped me look up), Agnes D’Mello the HR lady , Bishnu the “running hot water” kid.

The movie is also ticks all the boxes for me in the technical aspects. The use of background score over a mandatory song/dance number is a good choice because I could definitely see one atif aslam/Rahat Fateh Ali Khan number when Rana Leans into Vidya who is working away at a computer. Shekhar of the famed Vishal Shekhar duo and Clinton Crejo do full justice to the city of joy and bring it alive on screen through the magic of its sounds as it is waking up and as it is winding down and when it comes all out to celebrate the durga pooja. Camera work by Satyajit Pande concocts a potent potion the ingredients for which Kolkata lends freely – in particular that one shot of Kolkata panning in from a pregnant sky to the rain soaked streets had me and my friend collectively exclaim out loud!The story and Screenplay is superb with the right amount of wit and attention to detail being paid – like a very pregnant Vidya getting out of the airport carrying a red/maroon passport which is clear indication she’s arrived from London. The Editing ( and story) which I kept complaining about till the climax about how and and why Vidya and trying to find loopholes is excellent and answers all the questions even most hardened cynic (me) would have.

Vidya Balan is well on her way of proving why she is a force to be reckoned with and why she is the fourth Khan albeit more talented than all the other 3 put together.

Do not miss this movie for it is the movie that might have restored my faith back into Indian Cinema (this and Paan Singh Tomar). A Word of caution – do not miss the scene that leads you into intermission and DO NOT waste time in a queue getting pop-corn and fizzy drinks the second half blows the socks off of the first half – this in itself is a rarity.

Watch it and Watch it now.