‘Woman power’ is the first thought that comes to mind when one sees an anxious, pregnant but resolute woman head straight to the police station in Kolkata right after stepping off the airplane from London.
While the expressions on her face show desperation, her mannerisms — for instance, the ease with which she pulls her travelling bag — reflect her commitment and determination to achieve her goal. Her heavily pregnant body may speak of helplessness but she’s wise enough to use it for her benefit. This is Vidya Balan (playing Vidya Baghchi) taking us through the gripping narrative of Kahaani, a film replete with twists and turns.
Directed and co-produced by Sujoy Ghosh, Kahaani stars Balan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Parambrata Chatterjee in the lead roles. The film begins with a pregnant software engineer, Balan, visiting the local police station to file a missing persons report. Weeks ago, her husband Arnab arrived in India for a job assignment. For the first 14 days they talked daily on the phone and then without explanation his calls stopped. While she is searching for her lost husband, Balan is assisted by Satyaki Rana Sinha (played by Chatterjee); a junior police officer. Bits of the film remind us of Balan’s earlier flick No One Killed Jessica, in which she, assisted by Rani Mukherjee, is searching for her sister’s murderer.
Later, Balan’s individual search for her husband takes a bureaucratic twist and the local affair suddenly turns into one of governmental concern. The script is written so articulately and immaculately that every moment builds up the mystery. As the film progresses, one realises how Bollywood suspense thrillers have evolved with time. From Sriram Raghavan’s Johnny Ghaddaar (based on a gang of five fraudsters) in 2007 to Ghosh’s Kahaani, which captures the audience’s imagination due to the unique storytelling techniques, Bollywood has certainly come a long way.
Never say never
Meanwhile, as far as the acting is concerned, Balan is definitely the new face of Bollywood. After being appreciated for her performances in Ishqiya, No One Killed Jessica and The Dirty Picture, the actor has once again struck a chord with the audience. After the huge success of The Dirty Picture, where she played the role of a sultry actor who ruled the silver screen, Balan’s performance in Kahaani came as a pleasant surprise as she managed to completely shift gears, playing the role of a sophisticated pregnant woman to perfection.
The film explores the themes of motherhood and feminism in a very different manner and at places makes a very smart pun at them too. The fact that everyone blindly trusts a pregnant woman and the common notion that such a woman can never be injurious to anyone is presented in an interesting manner. However, the actual brilliance of Kahaani comes in its climax that leaves the viewer spellbound. Amidst a horde of predictable plots and conventional culminations, Kahaani has one of the most impressive climaxes for a Bollywood film in recent times, reports Times of India.
Hence, it’s no surprise that the Indian box office has considered Kahaani a super hit, and testimony to the success of the film is the fact that the gripping thriller has entered its third week and is still proving to be a crowd-puller.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2012.