Let’s talk a bit about the 2012 thriller Kahaani. The film is about woman’s search for her missing husband in a city foreign to her and about the mystery that unravels as her search progresses. I remember being glued to the edge of my seat till the very end of the movie.

Kahaani was a movie that belonged to Vidya Balan in every sense. For the majority of  Hindi movie-goers she was the only known face in the film and man, how she delivered! There isn’t a scene in the movie where she hit a false note. She gave Vidya Bagchi an aura that was both vulnerable and strong. The scene where she looks out of the window, the one where she expresses anxiety and frustration as she tries to drape the saree and the vengeful look at the climax were all fresh in my memory as I watched the movie years later for the second time.


In an interview, Vidya talked about how she prepared for the role. She mentioned how very early  in her career Mohanlal had advised her to always place art before comfort and that resulted in her decision to stay in that small hotel room for the entire shooting schedule. She gained every bit of my respect for this dedication.

If Vidya was the star of the movie the biggest supporting character was none other then the city of Kolkata. No movie has made me want to visit a city as much as Kahaani did. The cameras penetrate deep into the heart of the city, into the gullies and the streets, into the chai stalls and the tram depots. You feel like you’re walking with Vidya to every corner of Calcutta. The  depiction of Kolkata on the day of Vijayadashami (the crowd and the noise) is simply spectacular!


The supporting cast does thorough justice to their roles. Bob Biswas sends chills down your spine as the polite assassin.  Rana shows his attraction towards Vidya brilliantly in subtle ways and Nawazuddin Siddiqui is outstanding as the ruthless Intelligence Bureau officer, Khan.

I loved how the movie built mystery around smallest of things, like the kid’s radio or the receptionist at the lodge,  forcing the viewers to suspect every character.  The point where the movie breaks off for intermission is just brilliant and so is the concept of coinciding the climax of the movie with the climax of Durga Puja.


What doesn’t work for the film is climax being heavily inspired by that of the Angelina Jolie starrer Taking Lives, so much so that the style of attack and the weapon used are also similar. I was hugely disappointed when I found out about this as I really wanted this movie to be wholly Bollywood’s brainchild. Despite this, Kahaani was one of the few Hindi movies where I saw the city turn into a character, where a female actor carried the whole movie on her shoulders and where a man could not help but fall for an already pregnant lady!

Additional Notes:

  1. The album consists of an amazing track Tore Bina performed by Sukhwinder Singh. I heard bits and pieces of this song for the first time on TV at my college food-court and it was the first thing that made me want to watch the movie. You can listen to the song here.
  2. The above mentioned interview of Vidya Balan can be found here.



2 thoughts on “Kahaani.

  1. aditi says:

    Wonderful review ! Makes me want to watch the movie all over again. The observations aren’t obvious and now that I think about it, the city was a pivotal character . The comparison to Taking Lives makes me wonder though,even I wish it wasn’t inspired . Thanks Suchitra!


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