Kahaani (2012)

“Kahaani” means story and what a story this is. The following review was written in probably 2013 and till date I have seen this perhaps 5 times and each time it still wields the same power without diminishing in authority. The first time I saw this was on a flight from Tokyo to Singapore and I was alone. That day at 60000 feet in the air I learned something – watching an awesome movie alone is one of the world’s loneliest experiences. I wanted to tell the stranger watching Argo next to me to kill the movie and see this instead. I even wanted to take the mic and scream to every passenger to check Kahaani out.

After reaching home, I bought the Blu-ray in the next few days and saw it a second time with the missus and her incredible reaction at the climax was a movie in itself. I only started writing a fuller review after seeing it a third time with friends. I have decided to refrain from writing a synopsis because nothing beats going into this unaware. The tagline “a mother of a story” is more than apt to describe the experience.


Saw Kahaani again. My third time, my wife’s second and for 8 other friends who had long given up on Hindi movies, their very first time.

I must say it’s one of the best times I have had sharing an awesome film with so many pals.  Even though it’s my third time seeing this film, I saw nuances that I had missed prior. It’s testament to an outstanding film that bears up even seeing it for a third time. Tonight I caught a scene where Rana tells Vidya that she will make a good mother and seeing a quick scene of Vidya averting her soulful gaze away. Her pain is evident. Tonight I noticed that her slip while being chased by Shridhar was intentional. Tonight I realized that a possible way into the film is the concept of identity – What is it?  What’s in a person’s name?  Vidya goes through lots of annoyance to spell her name with a ‘V’ but everybody pronounces it with a ‘B’.  She asks Rana why he is also named Satyoki. He says in Kolkata everybody has two names.  She also says he is also Arjuna’s charioteer… I need to google that.

Tonight I saw beyond the taut and intricate plot and realized there are no redundant scenes. Every scene serves a purpose.  Tonight I saw Rana’s deep affection for Vidya. I shuddered to use the bigger word ‘love’ because it is not in Rana’s mantra to do that to Vidya. If he helps her find Arnab, she will be gone. If he can’t find Arnab, she will be heartbroken. It’s a doomed love any which way. But did Vidya used Rana? Teased him to do her bidding?  The jury is still out for me on that but I trust Rana’s intentions are sincere. It is their chemistry and undercurrent that gives the investigative story its potency.

The climax setting at the Puja celebrations is absolutely emphatic because the Goddess Durga is a dragon-slayer who embodies maternal instincts.  During this last climatic scene, my home theatre really comes alive as though it’s the scene where heaven and earth collides… And it did.  Nothing, absolutely nothing in the first 1hr 45min can foretell what happens in the end but yet all the clues are there. The director has deftly made us focus on the other stuff… like magic.  The sleight of hand is perfect.

Tonight I realized that Amitabh Bachchan voiced the final narration and sang the theme song over the running credits. After being mesmerized by his acting and the rich timbre of his voice in Mohabbatein, I would recognize his voice anytime.

All through the movie I thought Vidya Balan is an actress I have never seen before. It turns out that I have seen her in Ishqiya and Paa, but I didn’t ‘see’ her in these films at all. She is so good in this that I can’t see any other actresses in it.

It was very enjoyable seeing all my friends’ shocked reactions at the big reveal and falling action. So far all I have shared the film with only have nice words to say about it… All except the assassin, Bob. But I do find him refreshing. For once he is not those type of assassins that are send to kill Jason Bourne. He is a bumbling idiot that you would not look at one moment longer if you see him on the street and yet he is a stone cold killer. He, doing the sign of the cross after he deftly dispatches his victims is so incongruous but yet effective.

This film was my way back into the cinema of Bollywood. Since then I have fallen in love with Hindi films all over again.



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