Director: Sujoy Ghosh
Cast: Vidya Balan, Arjun Rampal, Naisha Khanna, Kharaj Muherjee, Jugal Hansraj
Sujoy Ghosh is a man of many talents. Screenwriting and directing come easy for him. After having made gritty thrillers in the ilk of Te3n and Kahaani, there were tempered expectations for Kahaani 2.
Tempered because of colossal disappointments like Bang Bang! and Aladin.
So which category does his latest fall under? Honestly speaking, neither.
The story of Durga Rani (Vidya Balan) is a glum one and audiences will instantly empathise with the seemingly normal middle class single mother who cares for a quadriplegic girl, Minnie (Naisha Khanna)with a hustle and bustle that is pretty much bang on.
Without much ado, one feels immersed in the film as the angelic Minnie disappears, leaving her bewildered mother Rani, running helter-skelter trying to get her back.
Flashbacks are interspersed generously throughout the film which is just shy of the two-hour mark and they slyly help you put the pieces together.
Credit to Ghosh for keeping the film sharp and to the point, without too much of unwanted drama.
He has bravely tackled the rampant but sadly grossly underreported child abuse issue and deserves kudos for making the viewer feel uncomfortable whenever something comes to the fore.
Arjun Rampal plays a cop who has been shunted out of main Kolkata into the lowly suburbs where everyone tucks in by 10 pm. His role as the supporting actor is pivotal and he continues to defy the adage that models can’t give a solid performance. He makes decisions by his gut and has to suffer the consequences, a fact that isn’t lost on him.
However, he refuses to pay heed, much to the consternation of his superior, Kharaj Mukherjee. The Bengali veteran is tailor made for the role of the comical but well-meaning superior and will bring a few smiles with his typical Bong quirks.
However, if the film belongs to someone, it has to be Vidya Balan, an actor who is yet to be outshone by a peer in any film. Her character, Rani emerges as a disturbed woman who will go to any length to protect her child, a trait many mothers will attest to.
Pain, anger, determination, her face is full of myriad expressions, dynamically shifting gears when required.
Is she the victim or the perpetrator is the main question and that proves to be the film’s kryptonite along with very obvious climax.
For, a thriller is supposed to keep you on the edge of your seat. Is it not?
Sadly for Kahaani 2, after the interval, connecting the dots is a mere formality and a severely underwhelming conclusion blots an admirable effort by Ghosh and co.
As the past becomes clear, one can predict what is going to happen in the last quarter, spoiling an otherwise tense tale.
What could have been a taut, world-class thriller fizzles out by the end, much like the carbonated drink one would be guzzling while watching the weekend blockbusters.