A lot of us might have completely written off Sujoy Ghosh after box office disasters like 'Home Delivery' and 'Aladin' but he has managed to score big with 'Kahaani'. Ghosh manages to weave a compelling, well-nuanced tale that skillfully transforms from a drama to a gripping suspense thriller.
Gaurav Malani in his review says the narrative is the star of the film:
Kahaani rightly lives up to its name and reinstates the fact that the core criterion for a decent film is a strong story. And if that story is in competent hands, you don't need anything else. No big stars, songs, budget or even a customary male lead. For a (pleasant) change, the script is indeed the hero here!
What's interesting about 'Kahaani' is that different elements work for different people. Kaveree Bamzai in her review says:
Kolkata is the star of the film. Kolkata early morning, with people drinking tea, brushing their teeth, waking up from the pavement. Kolkata going home, on the tram, with the obligatory call from ma asking when you will come. Kolkata during pujas, dressing up, and then the melancholic farewell to the goddess. The Anglo Indian secretaries, mocambo restaurant, the little urchins with their precious toys, the ageing slow moving lifts. And into this comes Vidya Balan, just in from London, looking for her missing husband.
Kunal however feels that the Durga metaphor was overdone:
The suspense in Sujoy Ghosh's 'Kahaani' may not be nail-chewing-worthy but he succeeds in getting Kolkata to perform at its peak and look like it's on a wire between vintage and decrepit. The overall attitude of the city and the city's voice is consistent in the story and the characters too. But forcing the goddess Durga metaphor in the end seems less like a tribute and more like ticking every Bengali stereotype imaginable to suggest the shooting location. Long shot of Haaauraah Breej. Close shot of travelling inside a traaam. Bhhictory!
However, there's no debate about Vidya's effortless performance. Rajeev Masand reiterates how Vidya seems to have mastered every emotion; simple, complex or otherwise:
Expectedly, 'Kahaani' unspools as a one-woman narrative, so Vidya Balan reveals once again that she can carry a film, even with no other recognizable star. She is alternatively firm, fierce, vulnerable, playful and charming that you're sometimes unsettled by these shifting emotions. What she does do is lend undeniable credence to her role and to this thriller, making you walk with her every step of this journey. Bengali actor Parambrata Chatterjee gets every sensitive nuance of his role spot-on, as the cop who assists her along the way and endears himself completely to the viewer. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, meanwhile, has an angry presence that commands the camera with every pithy dialogue he spouts.
After stumbling in his last couple of outings, Sujoy Ghosh finds his groove and brings a rhythm to the direction that keeps you engaged even in its imperfect moments. He is never overwhelmed with the material, and some shots — like the last one of a Durga effigy poetically submerging — are inspirational. Sometimes a director has an inexplicable connection with his film when purely the essence of it dictates every call of 'Action!'. Kahaani - a fillip to the genre - is a story not to be missed.
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