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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kahaani - A Review.

Every once in a while, Indian cinema does something very surprising - namely - make a good movie. Three months in, we have a winner. No, it's not going to feature at the Award Ceremonies next year but it will leave you thinking - a power possessed by very few Indian movies.

I don't know what I liked most - the brilliant storyline which is intricately told; the fine editing which keeps alive, the pace of the movie and doesn't really give you much time to form theories of your own; the strong performance by Vidya (all those people who applauded her for The Dirty Picture, kindly open your eyes wide and see THIS is what performance is. Not the rehearsed blurting of vulgar, double meaning sentences that can make the cut only in B-grade and adult-rated movies which play after hours in shady theaters), the absence of a hunky dory let's-dance-around-the-trees bollywood romance sequence and/or better yet a let's-shed-all-clothes-and-do-some-pelvic-thrusts-in-the-name-of-an-item-song, the few and far-spaced out yet powerful dialogues (Reference to Point : 'Koi fark nahi hai. Hum kanoon ke liye karte hain, woh kanoon ke khilaaf), the subtle humour that doesn't change the tense atmosphere but makes you smile, the presence of a real plot for the first time this year instead of the same mundane and oft-told tales of boy-meets-girl (Recent Reference: Ek Main aur Ek Tu) or the climax, which is not the build-up you'd bought that bucket of popcorn for but supersedes it altogether.

Kahaani is the simply told tale of a pregnant woman, Vidya Bagchi who flies down from London in search of her missing husband, who works as a software programmer by the day and doesn't mind hacking for fun at night. She is helped in her endeavour to track down her husband by an earnest cop, Rana played by Parambrata Chattopadhyay. His acting is wonderfully fresh and deserves credit. He doesn't overdo the love that he gradually begins to feel for this tireless woman and does his best to help and protect her. It's an out and out Vidya Balan movie with the rest of the cast just standing in as fillers, but another good performance is by Bob - a slightly overweight, down and out insurance agent.

The film is set in Calcutta (sorry folks, calling it Kolkata still somehow hurts my tongue or in this case, keypad) and it takes you through the town, not as a tourist but as a resident. From Victoria Memorial to Howrah Bridge to the trams and Park Street, it's a ride through the very heart of the city - at the edge - for as a character rightly says, Calcutta from the director Sujoy Ghosh's view, is not safe. The dingy lanes, the undercover cops, the police informers - everybody seems to have a second layer to them. As Rana very rightly tells us early on in the movie, in Calcutta everyone has two names, and in a way, two identities.

Yes, there are a few loop-holes but you can't blame the direction. It's a very good effort to tell a tale and it leaves every viewer feeling something different. Personally, the movie touched me in a way that made me belief that with grief, comes an immeasurable amount of pain but there also comes an unparalleled strength, we just have to find a way to channel it. Belief and justice are two intertwined concepts that Ghosh does strike with panache even with a slightly dark and weak screenplay.

As mentioned already, the direction is good and so is the script writing, editing, and acting. The lack of a soundtrack doesn't bother you much for it would've been an unnecessary addition. However, "Ekla Cholo Re" - which literally translates to "Walk alone", sung in Amitabh Bachchan's penetratingly deep and enamouring voice is an icing to the cake and this review would be incomplete with the feeble yet needed translation of the poem written by Rabindranath Tagore that the song is based on:

Jodi tor dak sune keu na ashe,
Tobe ekla cholo, ekla chalo, aekla chalo re,
Aikla cholo re,

If no one answers your call,
Then walk alone,
(be not afraid) walk alone my friend.

Jodi kue kotha na koe,
ore o re o obaghaga, keu kotha na koe
Jodi sobai thake muhk phirae , sobai kore bhoye,
Tobe poran khule,
O tui, mukh phute tor moner kotha,
Ekla bolo re

If no one talks to you,
O my unlucky friend, if no one speaks to you,
If everyone looks the other way and everyone is afraid,
Then bare your soul and let out what is in your mind,
(be not afraid) Speak alone my friend.

Jab kali ghata chaye,
Ore o re o andhera sach ko nigal jaye
Jab duniya sari, dar ke age sar apna jhukaye,
Tu shola banja, Wo shola banja, Jo khud jal ke jahan raushan karde,
Ekla jalo re.

When dark clouds cover the sky, When darkness engulfs the truth,
When the world cowers and bows before fear,
You be the flame, The flame that burns you and banishes darkness from the world,
(be not afraid) Burn alone my friend.

Watch this movie because as I said, it will bring you the surprise of something 'actually good' from our industry. The movie surely makes a burning memory in your mind and isn't that the whole purpose of film-making anyway? To make an impact. Hence, Kahaani is a true success in terms of cinema.

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