A Paisa Wasool Thriller…
Bollywood is not very good with thrillers, especially nothing beyond the fast cars, snazzy hero types… While the Dons and the Agent Vinods create a lot of buzz and earn the moolah, there are hardly any thrillers that play with your mind and keep you on the edge of your seat. Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani successfully manages to do that and Vidya Balan’s superb performance along with the current ‘India’s darling’ status helps the film to draw in the audience.
A thriller with a pregnant woman as the protagonist is something new for the Indian cinema and it seems the viewers are also growing up along with the filmmakers. A few years ago Sriram Raghavan made an excellent thriller called, Ek Haseena Thi starring Urmila Matondkar. It was a slick film with a fabulous plot and a chilling climax. Whoever saw it loved it but the box-office figures were not very encouraging. Thankfully, with Kahaani it is different and the film has already been declared a hit within four days of its release. So what works for Kahaani? Here’s my list (there are minor spoilers in the post):
An interesting story and a clever screenplay (story: Sujoy Ghosh, Advaita Kala; screenplay: Ghosh, Suresh Nair & Nikhil Vyas): The plot is intriguing, about a pregnant woman (Vidya Bagchi, played by Vidya Balan) who comes to Kolkata looking for her missing husband… the screenplay does full justice to it, with smart and at times misleading scenes and situations. Vidya’s condition immediately draws your support and you join her in her search, just like a young police officer, Rana. You are concerned about her well being and actually get worried when you know something wrong is going to happen next. I also enjoyed the dialogues (Ghosh, Ritesh Shah & Sutapa Sikdar) that were peppered with Bengali lines and terms.
Inspired casting: Kudos to the casting director who managed to put together a stellar cast of Bengali actors who make their characters so real and believable. Parambrata Chatterjee as a young cop who assists Vidya in her search is extremely likeable and sincere. Saswata Chatterjee as Bob Biswas is simply outstanding; full credit to the writers for creating an interesting character like Bob – an insurance agent who is also a contract killer. Other characters including the senior pot-bellied police officer, Mona Lisa Guest House receptionist and the little kids, all have done a fabulous job. Finally, Vidya Balan as the lead; I can’t think of another actress who would have been able to pull off this role except her and Konkona Sen Sharma. Vidya once again does a stellar job and is extremely convincing as a pregnant woman who is determined to find her husband. She is vulnerable and at the same time stronger than any of the other characters.
Kolkata: Those who have been to Kolkata will enjoy the film a bit more than those who haven’t. And those who haven’t may want to visit. Sujoy and his team (Cinematography – Setu; Art Direction – Kaushik Das, Subrata Barik) bring alive the many faces of the city on screen – a buzzing metro with traffic jams and crowded local trains; a sleepy town which still appears to be stuck in the last century and a city soaked in celebrations. I almost cheered at the mention of Park Street’s iconic restaurant, Mocambo and at a glimpse of New Market…
Kahaani starts slow and you get a chance to empathise and connect with Vidya. However, once the action begins, you are in for a roller coaster ride. Vidya’s flashbacks about her husband are irritating as they hamper the pace of the film. The film has many loop-holes and a lot of things are a little hard to digest. However, those can be overlooked for the ultimate effect that is created. Music by Vishal-Shekhar is good and goes very well with the mood of the film.
One thing that I did not like about the film is its ending. The director spends too much time in explaining everything after the final revelation or the main climax. The film soars high but lands with a thud. It would have been more impactful if the end was open to interpretation.
Overall, Kahaani is one of the best Hindi films I have seen in the recent times and I recommend you watch it if you haven’t already.
– Shrey Khetarpal