Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Sujoy Ghosh's pulpy compact thriller Kahaani makes up for all the leaps of faith in narrative and character with a confident engaging pace, great performances and a wonderful milieu. It is heartening to see more films that respect the importance of characters and locations. Not as ambitious as Home Delivery (really, I am not kidding; go watch that film again), this film pays what might be the first diegetic tribute to the late R. D. Burman: while Jhankaar Beats was all about fans of the Sultan of Song, this film takes advantage of being set in the city of Calcutta and drenches the background with one Pancham tune after another (tere binaa jiyaa jaaye naa from Ghar, tuu meraa kyaa laage from Oonche Log, lekar ham diiwaanaa dil from Hum Kisise Kum Nahin, jethe jethe pothe and the Bengali versions of aaj kii raat (Jagir), jiivan ke har mo.D pe, apane pyaar ke, jaan-e-jaa.N (Jawani Diwani)). Although this is a Vidya Balan vehicle (and deservedly so), Sujoy Ghosh gives us supporting characters, who as in Kaminey, are just as memorable (or perhaps more): Parambrata Chatterjee's Rana, Nawazuddin Siddiqui's Khan, the manager of the Mona Lisa Guest House, Ridhi Sen as Polut the little kid at the Mona Lisa Guest House (move over Shekhar Kapur; Sujoy Ghosh is here to join Vishal Bhardwaj and Gulzar as a director who works well with children) and, of course, Saswata Chatterjee as Bob Biswas, who, unsurprisingly, has developed a following of his own. This is the most realistic hired gun you will ever see in a long time. Aside from a few moments that felt false (the sequence about a person having two names seemed like an uncomfortable take instead of a scene that fit well) and some damage to character development by the ending, I must confess I had a good time right from Usha Uthup's voice for the misleading song on the opening credits to the role of the city in the narrative to the Chekhovian guns on display (if you pay very close attention). Way to Ghosh!