Friday Feminist Reviews 26th August, 2019

Kahaani Review: The Woman-Centered Action Film We Need.

DIRECTOR: Sujoy Ghosh

CAST: Vidya Balan, Parambrata Chatterjee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Setu

After a long time (or should we say finally?), we got a movie that broke all the stigmas associated with women’s presence in Bollywood’s action films. Vidya Balan as Vidya Bagchi plays the lead role in the movie Kahaani (2012), breaking the typecast where a hero is the one performing hypermasculinity, complete with big biceps, a beard, performing daredevil stunts and saving the damsel in distress. In Kahaani, Vidya Balan breaks that stereotype and stands out as the actual hero(ine). The male leads stood aside while Vidya blazed forward. 

Where the plot of the movie is concerned – an attack of poisonous gas in the Kolkata metro leaves hundreds dead and sets a chain of events in motion. Vidya Bagchi, a  pregnant software engineer, travels to India from London in search of her missing husband Arnab Bagchi. Arnab came to India for his assignment with the National Data Center (NDC) two years ago.

Initially, no records are found of Arnab landing in India but Vidya knew deep inside that something was wrong so she didn’t give up and continued with the search for her husband. Satyoki (Rana), a newly recruited cop goes out of his way to help Vidya in her quest to search for her husband. Soon, she finds that her husband looks like an ex-employee of NDC – Milan Damji.

Worried that this resemblance might have posed problems for her husband, Vidya soon realizes that the matter is much more than what’s visible on the surface. Moreover, the murder of every person who tried to help Vidya created a sense of fear in her, but she fought fearlessly for the sake of her unborn child and missing husband.  Later, the involvement of the Intelligence Department into the matter makes the entire story even more complicated and dense.

Vidya’s character defies the typical portrayal of women in action cinema – no leather jackets, no garter holsters for guns and no skintight pants.

But in the end, with her courage and fearlessness, Vidya makes everything crystal clear. The reveal was that Vidya had just padded her stomach to appear pregnant – to throw off the people keeping an eye on her. What’s more, turns out the identity of Arnab Bagchi as her husband was also a concoction in order to hunt down Milan Damji. This was the unpredictable, mind-boggling part of the entire kahaani. Till the end, the entire police force thought that they were using Vidya to reach Milan Damji, but actually, they were the ones actually being used by Vidya as a puppet for her mission and made her successful in finding Milan Damji and taking him down.

This piece of art is one of a kind and proves that a good storyline is enough to leave an imprint on the viewers rather than songs, item numbers, slapstick comedy, etc. The movie from the very starting grips you. Starting at a slow pace, the story gains momentum in the middle and then sustains it till the very end. Vidya’s character also defies the typical portrayal of women in action cinema – no leather jackets, no garter holsters for guns and no skintight pants. Even without the latter stereotypes, Vidya was terrifying and formidable in combat. 

Parambrata Chattopadhyay as a newly recruited cop goes out of his way to help Vidya Balan find her missing husband – the actor plays the reliable sidekick to perfection. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, as usual with his nuanced acting skills,  stood out in his part of a ruthless, emotionless cop who tries to convince Vidya to give up and go back.       

The movie is full of suspense, drama and thrilling elements and has been set in a mesmerizing backdrop of Durga Pooja in Kolkata. The combination itself could bind its viewers till the end and the jaw-dropping climax is (again) something that Bollywood thrillers often lack. Kahaani completely justifies its title and is so beautifully narrated to the viewers with its outstanding cast as the icing on the cake. Moreover, the perfect shots of the beautiful city of Kolkata with each of its details and scenes is an aspect worthy of appreciation. It is actually a kind of movie which must be seen twice to get a clearer picture of the minute events which weave this thrilling yet beautiful kahaani.

Also Read: What Did Arya And Brienne Say To The God Of Death? “Not Today”


Featured image used for representative purpose only. Image source: Talk Bollywood

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