Four years after the gripping, edge of the seat thriller Kahaani (2012), the director-actor duo of Sujoy Ghosh and Vidya Balan is back with Kahaani 2 which is not a sequel but a standalone movie in a series Ghosh plans to deliver.
After the debacle of a couple of back to back below average movies, Vidya Balan is back and how! She delivers a stunning pivotal performance in Kahaani 2 and makes up for the loopholes here and there in the plot. Balan is convincing as both her characters, Vidya Sinha, a working mother in Chandannagar with a paralyzed daughter and Durga Rani Singh, a school clerk from Kalimpong who is a fugitive on the run.
The film loses no time or footage and plunges head long into the action; 20 minutes into the movie, a slew of shockers are thrown at the audience who sit up and get invested completely in the fate of the protagonists reeling under unexpected and nasty turns of events. The screenplay shifts between two time frames, one of the present, with Vidya and her daughter and the other set in the past, eight years earlier with Mini, an orphaned girl growing up in the mansion of her grandmother and uncle. The thrills are delivered at breathtaking speed and the steady, unobtrusive camerawork by DoP Tapan Basu ensures the audience are absolutely engrossed in the action with no gratuitous distraction.
No director perhaps knows better than Sujoy Ghosh how to create a more authentic texture and ambience of a place. Even without the standard movie locations of Kolkata like Howrah bridge, Princep ghat or the Victoria Memorial, he brings in the feel of Bengal in every frame, be it with the picturesque setting of Kalimpong or the unseen back lanes of the former French colony, Chandannagar.
Complementing Vidya Balan’s compelling act, some brilliant actors like Kharaj Mukherjee, Tota Roy Chowdhury and Kaushik Sen flesh out the supporting cast. Arjun Rampal as sub inspector Inderjit Singh who tries to piece together the mystery and hopes for a promotion is believable and effective. His scenes with his wife and daughter provide some relief from the gripping intrigue.
Kahaani 2 is not the best thriller you have ever seen nor does it really match up to the previous Kahaani which set a benchmark in the genre. The underwhelming climax is what lets the movie down with its predictability. But it is a taut, engrossing and well paced thriller, with a power packed performance from its leading lady. So if you have an appetite for thriller, do give this a watch. Or simply go in for Balan, she won’t disappoint.