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Movie Review: Kahaani – A Mother of a Story

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By Sadhogopal Ram:

It is said that a very long time ago, somewhere in the magical realm of Hindu mythology, when the demon called Mahishasura had unleashed terror on the Three Worlds, creating havoc and chaos all around; made so powerful by the blessings of Brahma, that no God could ever defeat him. It was then that a goddess was born, summoned by all the gods, to liberate the world from the clutches of Mahishasura — she was the culmination of the energies of all Gods. According to the mythological tale, she is the original illusion-caster and the material manifestation of Brahma, the Supreme Absolute Godhead (the universal Spirit that is the source and support of the phenomenal universe).

Kahaani is the story of one such world (in here Kolkata), where terror of the demon has been unleashed, creating havoc and chaos all around; and when everything else fails to stop the demon, a goddess, somewhere from the far off world, arrives in the form of an ordinary, 7 month pregnant woman.

We are told that she is a nobody, just an ordinary, 7-month pregnant woman looking for her missing husband. That she seeks nothing else, but the truth which seems to have somehow vanished her husband into the thin air of Kolkata, made almost mystical by the superb direction of Sujoy Ghosh. But the reality of Kahaani is nothing what has been established from the moment it unfolds.

Vidya Balan is the Durga of this kahaani. Her character has been written so exceptionally-well, that it is almost synonymous to what the Durga is. Filled with fierce compassion and creative feminine force, Vidya seems to exist in a state of total independence from the universe and anything or anybody else, in other words, she is self-sufficient,  just like Durga. You take her out of Kahaani, and you are left with nothing else but a dead canvas incapable of evoking any emotion whatsoever. You put her back in Kahaani, and the same dead canvas comes roaring back to life, ready to invoke the emotions you least expected it to. Vidya’s character, in her search for her missing husband (as we are told), shows fearlessness and patience, and never loses her sense of humour, even during the situation of epic proportions. She becomes a child when she is with Subash at the guest house she is staying in, who is crazily in love with his radio, which he keeps with him all the time, and the nervous and diffident Partho at the chaiwala. She becomes what the situation demands her to be, and at times she herself becomes the situation where she can be what she wants to be.

The story of Kahaani, though not once losing track, ticks only because of the way Vidya’s character unfolds itself throughout the Kahaani. Had the character of Vidya Bagchi (played unlike anything else seen in a long-long time in Hindi cinema by Vidya Balan) been any less in terms of emotional proportion and substance, Kahaani would have been just another wham-bam story that we witness in bundles every other Friday.

While Vidya Balan deserves all the admiration that is being showered on her for her role in Kahaani, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, in his portrayal of young cop Satyaki fondly addressed as Rana, is a natural. A new face for Hindi cinema, Parambrata Chattopadhyay is a big name in Bengali film fraternity. He lives to the character name of his role as Satyaki, the chariot of Arjuna, guiding, following, and even protecting Vidya from the risks and threats of people from both sides; the good and the bad, in her quest, as we are told, to find her missing husband.

Supported competently by Nawazuddin Siddiqui in his portrayal as the foulmouthed IB agent A Khan; Saswata Chatterjee as the dishevelled and grouchy contactor killer, who greets his targets before shooting them down, along with a bunch of other superbly-crafted extras, Kahaani is almost infallible.

Sujoy Ghosh, who previously gave us unmentionable duds like Home Delivery and Aladdin, seems to have woken up from his slumber, completely transformed into a master storyteller, who keeps you thinking, even challenging you at times, and not letting your attention go haywire with his smartly written story and almost tight direction. He seems to have understood that the basic art of story-telling lies in making your audience part of it and not just mere spectators. And rightly so, you find yourself moving along with the Kahaani as it unfolds the mystery that lies beneath its camouflage. Kahaani doesn’t let you rest from the moment you step inside its world, surprising you, even shocking at times, hitting you with twists and turns, something one rarely gets to see in Hindi cinema these days.

I would not want to, but if I have to sum up what Kahaani is, then it’s a mirage, an illusion, a wholly different story in garb of a camouflage that at the end will leave you, shocked at first, and later smiling in admiration at the talent that the whole team of Kahaani has brought to it.

Watch it for what it is — Kahaani, an illusion. Because as Durga, upon emerging from the pool of the light of all gods, had said that it was not they who created her but her lila that she emerged from their combined energy, Kahaani, too, it seems as if has not been created by the team of Sujoy Ghosh but by its own lila that it emerged from their combined talent.


This post was originally published at the author’s blog, ARTH.

Sadhogopal Ram is a Poet… Writer… a Thinker… and a pigheaded Arthśāstri. He likes to rant on a wide variety of topics, Society and People being two of his all-time favourites.

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  1. Deepa_justlove

    it’s good movies for normal person ,please watch one time try . 

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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