I had seen posters demanding to know if I had seen Arnab Bagchi all around town but I never tied it in with the movie until a friend pointed it out. Consequently I knew nothing about Kahani when I went to watch it. I just went to watch it because I had time to kill. And it was a largely enjoyable couple of hours.
It started with the dedications. Why don’t people copy edit the text before they flash it on screens! Grateful thanks are extended to the “Honorary Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee”. Honorary implies that her chief ministership is titular or nominal. Honorable was probably the right way to go but given how things currently are in the state of Poshchim Banga, this was sarcasm.
In the movie too, thing are not very good for Kolkata. Two years after a mysterious bio-attack on the metro, a pregnant woman called Vidya Bagchi arrives from London in search of her missing husband and proceeds to shake things up. It quickly turns out that none of the details he has provided her are true. Is she just an abandoned wife? Did something really happen to her husband or is it her imagination.
The movie is full of wonderful touches that were obviously written by someone who loves and revels in the personality of Poschim Banga Pronunciation, little eccentricities, and fairly well-sketched characters abound. My absolute favorite is the Bangla hit man who is too fat to run or climb stairs and has a minor cardiac arrest when he is chased.
For a thriller of this genre, the film is very well made. The young actor who plays the young rookie was exceptional. He made good use of all the weapons in his arsenal of acting – body language, facial expressions, dialog delivery … not a skill we see very often in Bollywood. Various stars from Tollywood make an appearance through this film and of course the acting quality is exceptional. Vidya herself does a fair enough job, coming to life mostly in moments when she attempts to deal with her grief.
The last 20 minutes of the film, however, completely undo all that has been patiently built up until then. Film makers need to realize that all a good thriller needs is a clean ending. It does not have to be conclusive and there does not necessarily have to be a twist in the tale. It just has to end that part of the story. Watch The Changeling or even Mystery at Hanging Rock, to see what I mean.
And here’s something else that ticked me off. Using Amitabh Bachchan’s voice over at the end… that is just the film maker’s insurance that distributors will pick it up. It just killed the film. But as a friend remarked, he sings pretty well for a 70 year old man.