Kahaani.

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

 

Kahaani.

Piku

I remember watching the trailer of Piku the day it was out and almost instantly decided to catch it on the first day of its release. It was mainly because Mr. Bachchan’s character seemed hilarious, Deepika looked stunning as usual, there was Irrfan, the director had made Vicky Donor and the trailer sent out a very fresh vibe. I had a few friends asking me if I was sure I wanted to watch a movie which would be about shit! I dragged them along with me to the theater and even I had no idea what I was about to experience for the next two hours.

As of today, I have watched Piku over five times and I know I’ll watch it a number of times in the coming years. I still can not get over the simplicity of this movie. The film doesn’t have a start or an end to a story, rather it presents to us life, as it is, and regular discussions. Sure there have been movies like Before Sunrise and its sequels that are largely based on conversation between the protagonists, but Piku is still different. This film is not about profound and romantic conversations but rather about the mundane discussions and still manages to be hilarious and witty!

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The Dialogues:

The dialogues flow out effortlessly throughout the film. The language is simple and the humour never goes over the top. To mention a few crispy dialogues, there is a scene where Piku tells Bhashkor “Din me ek baar potty nahi hua toh you don’t have to do taandav.” and another one where Rana yells at  Bhashkor “Kuch baatien kaan ke andar nahi padegi toh pralay thodi aajayegi.”  These had me in splits.

The  Relationships:

The film portrays the father-daughter relationship so beautifully, be it the arguments or the love and concern, that it almost captured the essence of the bond I share with my dad. The Piku-Rana relation is a realistic depiction of how people flirt as they start getting to know each other. There isn’t a touch yet the chemistry is infectious. It is wonderful how Deepika and Irrfan manage to build it up just by expressions. The party at Champa Kunj(the Kolkata home) when they barely manage to keep their eyes off of each other is amongst my favourite scenes in the movie.

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I love the way the hints are dropped here and there about the relation between different characters, like about how Piku and Syed are more than just friends or how Chhobi mashi and kaaki don’t get along well.

The Performances:

Amitabh Bachchan’s performance is nothing short of perfection. His comic timing is spot-on and so is his accent as a Bengali. Irrfan Khan is effortless as always. He is not so much acting as he is being the character. Deepika doesn’t go out of rhythm even for a second . Her performance is my favourite in the film. Her eyes express anger, arrogance, concern and attraction as and when required. I just loved the scene when Deepika sits on Bhashkor’s bed and quietly weeps. No melodrama here. Moushumi Chatterjee is hilarious as Chhobi mashi and I also enjoyed the performance of actors portraying Budhan and Nabendu.

The Music:

As the opening credits  roll out, a soft Sarod score is played and the film had every bit of my attention since then. This score is used often in the background and also at the very end and its just beautiful. The background music also consists of a classical song during  the Banaras sequence and two joyous Bengali songs all of which add to the mood of the scene. The album consists of fresh tracks and what is even more amazing is how they blend with the scenes. Bezubaan is my personal favourite and I also love Shreya Ghoshal’s work in The Journey Song.  I hope Anupam Roy composes more for Hindi films in the future.

All in All:

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Piku is a film that has urban Indian culture at its heart. It gives out a warm message without being too preachy. It reminded me of  Hrishikesh Mukherjee films that were based on simple and realistic characters and story. Its gonna take me a while to get over this one.

Picture Credits: https://twitter.com/PikuTheFilm/media

 

 

 

 

Piku