Film Review: Kahaani (2012)
For anything else to be seen outside of the inner Bollywood circle it has been an uphill struggle for quite some time. At its peak during the 1960s, Parallel Cinema would reach out into Europe frequently turning up at major festivals such as Cannes. Since Bollywood’s musical rise to almost complete dominance the more serious side to Indian cinema has struggled for exposure and only now are we again beginning to catch a glimpse of the talent on offer as the country becomes more urbanised.
Kahaani is a low budget thriller starring one of the countries hottest properties Vidya Balan who steps away from the glitz and glamour into a grittier role. North and South Asia traditionally both lean heavily on the revenge angle, whether it is through Bollywood or martial arts and director Sujoy Ghosh plays it in a similar fashion although with a more subtle touch.
The strongest performance comes from Balan as the heavily pregnant Mrs Bagchi arrives in Kolkata from London and heads straight to the police, local to where she believes her husband has gone missing. He had been talking with his wife for months, telling her about his job and how much he missed her before stopping all communication seeming to disappear into thin air.
Problems begin for Mrs Bagchi when the local hotel her husband is staying in tells her that no one of that name had been there at all. Even more worryingly she hears the same story from his work place; a local research institute that had apparently requested his presence informs her that they have no records of her husband ever working there.
She is a persistent and determined woman who will not take no for an answer, winning over the unofficial help of Inspector Rana (Parambrata Chatterjee) who amongst the law enforcements tracking of a much wanted terrorist, tries to help in finding her husband. Underneath you feel the twinges of affection Rana is fighting away as he wants to help and remain close to her without disrespecting her marriage.
Some of the acting surrounding Balan is fairly unconvincing in places but she proves to be a compelling tenacious wife who pulls you into her plight keeping you involved in her story. What would’ve benefited the pace and impact of the story is some trimming here and there, perhaps as much as thirty minutes less would’ve provided more of a kick.
There is a nice twist to where you have been led that works well enough and salvages a flagging pace bogged down in details. There is too much sitting down at computers tracing this and that or cross checking files for details to identify the stingy leads they have at hand which drags the story along quite slowly at times.
Full marks go to Balan who gives a solid centre for the story to work from and without her this would’ve disappeared into quite bland Indian drama fare. As more production companies appear in their industry Kahaani is hopefully an indication of good things to come from the continent.
Director: Sujoy Ghosh
Production co: Boundscript Motion Pictures, Pen Movies