By Sadho Ram
Starring: Vidya Balan, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Saswata Chatterjee and Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Direction: Sujoy Ghosh | Story: Sujoy Ghosh and Advaita Kala
Dialogues: Sujoy Ghosh, Ritesh Shah and Sutapa Sikdar | Screenplay: Sujoy Ghosh
Additional Screenplay: Suresh Nair & Nikhil Vyas | Music: Vishal-Shekhar
It is said that a very long time ago, somewhere in the magical realm of Hindu mythology, when the demon called Mahishasura had unleashed terror on the three worlds, creating havoc and chaos all around; made so powerful by the blessings of Brahma that no god could ever defeat him. It was then that a goddess was born, summoned by all the gods, to liberate the world from the clutches of Mahishasura, she was the culmination of the energies of all gods. According to the mythological tale, she is the original illusion caster and the material manifestation of the Brahman, the Supreme Absolute Godhead, (the universal Spirit that is the source and support of the phenomenal universe).
KAHAANI is the story of one such world (in here Kolkata), where terror of the demon has been unleashed, creating havoc and chaos all around; and when everything else fails to stop the demon, a goddess, somewhere from the far off world, arrives in the form of an ordinary, 7 month pregnant woman.
We are told that she is a no one, just an ordinary, 7 month pregnant woman looking for her missing husband. That she seeks nothing else, but the truth which seems to have somehow vanished her husband into the thin air of Kolkata, made almost mystical by the superb direction of Sujoy Ghosh. But the reality of KAHAANI is nothing what has been established from the moment it unfolds.
Vidya Balan is the Durga of this KAHAANI. Her character has been written so exceptionally well that it is almost synonymous to what the Durga is. Filled with fierce compassion and creative feminine force, Vidya seems to exist in a state of total independence from the universe and anything or anybody else, in other words, she is self-sufficient, just like Durga. You take her out of KAHAANI, and you are left with nothing else but a dead canvas incapable of evoking any emotion whatsoever. You put her back in KAHAANI, and the same dead canvas comes roaring back to life, ready to invoke the emotions you least expected it to. Vidya’s character, in her search for her missing husband (as we are told), shows fearlessness and patience, and never loses her sense of humour, even during the situation of epic proportion. She becomes a child when she is with Subash at the guest house she is staying in, who is crazily in love with his radio, which he keeps with him all the time, and the nervous and diffident Partho at the chaiwala. She becomes what the situation demands her to be, and at times she herself becomes the situation where she can be what she wants to be.
The story of KAHAANI, though not once losing track, ticks only because of the way Vidya’s character unfolds itself throughout the KAHAANI. Has the character of Vidya Bagchi (played unlike anything else seen in a long-long time in Hindi cinema by Vidya Balan) been any less in terms of emotional proportion and substance, KAHAANI would have been just another wham-bam story that we witness in bundles every other Friday.
While Vidya Balan deserves all the admiration that is being showered on her for her role in KAHAANI, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, in his portrayal of young cop Satyaki fondly addressed as Rana, is a natural. A new face for Hindi cinema, Parambrata Chattopadhyay is a big name in Bengali film fraternity. He lives to the character name of his role as Satyaki, the chariot of Arjuna, guiding, following, and even protecting Vidya from the risks and threats of people from both sides; the good and the bad, in her quest, as we are told, to find her missing husband.
Supported competently by Nawazuddin Siddiqui in his portrayal as the foulmouthed IB agent A Khan; Saswata Chatterjee as the dishevelled and grouchy contactor killer who greets his targets before shooting them down, along with a bunch of other superbly crafted extras, KAHAANI is almost infallible.
Sujoy Ghosh, who previously gave us unmentionable duds like Home delivery and Aladdin, seems to have woken up from his slumber, completely transformed into a master story teller, who keeps you thinking, even challenging you it at times, and not letting your attention go haywire with his smartly written story and almost tight direction. He seems to have understood that the basic art of story-telling lies in making your audience part of it and not just mere spectators. And rightly so, you find yourself moving along with the KAHAANI as it unfolds the mystery that lies beneath its camouflage. KAHAANI doesn’t let you rest from the moment you step inside its world, surprising you, even shocking at times, hitting you with twists and turns, one rarely gets to see in Hindi cinema these days.
I would not want to, but if I have to sum up what KAHAANI is, then it’s a mirage, an illusion, a wholly different story in garb of a camouflage that at the end will leave you, shocked at first, and later smiling in admiration at the talent that the whole team of KAHAANI has brought to it.
Watch it for what it is – KAHAANI, an illusion. Because as Durga, upon emerging from the pool of the light of all gods, had said that it was not they who created her but her lila that she emerged from their combined energy, KAHAANI too it seems as if has not been created by the team of Sujoy Ghosh but by its own lila that it emerged from their combined talent.