Kahaani 2 (2016)

Do not go in for Kahaani 2, expecting the 2012 Kahaani’s sequel. Although it shares with the previous film, its leading lady, a West Bengal setting, and a strong sense of atmospherics. The story begins in Chandannagar, a small town in the Hoogly district of Bengal. Soon enough, after establishing the lead characters and their daily routines, Sujoy Ghosh throws his leading lady in front of a speeding taxi, while rushing to save her paraplegic daughter.

The film introduces us to Vidya Sinha (Vidya Balan), a middle-aged single mother living with her daughter Mini in Chandannagar. When sub inspector Inderjeet Singh (Arjun Rampal) begins investigating her accident, he chances upon her conveniently detailed diary, which provides a window into her life before arriving in Chandannagar. A time when she went by the name Durga Rani Singh.

Ghosh and co-writer Suresh Nair raise the stakes by giving us a story at whose heart resides complete and abject darkness, but also at the same time, very clichéd. Considering there is uncomfortable material, the makers navigate it both skillfully and with sensitivity. They deserve credit also for the casting choices, particularly in the case of Jugal Hansraj and Amba Sanyal who have key supporting roles. Arjun Rampal is quite monotonous as the world-weary, laconic cop, numerously portrayed on screen. Actually, the character’s model was so acquainted to us (courtesy Hollywood), that there wasn’t much Rampal could do with it.

The first of of Kahaani 2 reveals the secrets one by one. Cutting skillfully between the past and the present. The screenplay is tight as a constrictor knot. There are some particularly chilling scenes, like the one in which, the young Mini says, “Wo mujhe sone nahi dete…”. But the knot begins to loosen in the second half, where the half baked screenplay produces some bad results. And this is also the time when the film becomes extremely predictable. Watching the film with my brother, he could predict every major plot point accurately before it occurred. Even an attempt to deliver a Bob Biswas-type unlikely assassin fails completely.

But even as the screenplay hobbles, Balan is first rate in her acting, only showing how good an actor she is. She does a beautiful job for a fully fleshed out role, offering a performance completely free of vanity, and full of genuine feeling. She powers Kahaani 2, glossing over its rough edges.

I’m going with 3 out of 5 stars for Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani 2. Though the film is seldom boring, one cannot help but to mourn for so much more this film could have offered.