The only connections between Sujoy Ghosh’s 2012 film “Kahaani” and his latest project “Kahaani 2 – Durga Rani Singh” are the indomitable heroine, her secret past and the murky colour palette in both movies that makes everything seem gloomier and darker.
While “Kahaani” was a breathless revenge thriller set in crowded Kolkata, Ghosh’s latest installment takes place in the more sedate towns of Chandan Nagar and Kalimpong where streets are deserted at 10 pm, everyone knows each other and where “nothing ever happens,” as one character puts it.
Vidya Balan plays Vidya Sinha, a single mother who lives in Chandan Nagar with her disabled daughter Mini. Her fragile world collapses when she comes home from work one day to find Mini missing, followed by a mysterious phone call asking her to reach a certain location.
Ghosh builds up his thriller beautifully, and the atmospherics throughout the film are pitch perfect, lending a note of authenticity to a screenplay that doesn’t always make sense.
Vidya’s lower middle-class existence, her torturous past, the dashing cop with a tenuous link to her - they all fit in perfectly with the tone of the film. “Kahaani 2” moves swiftly from past to present, leaving no time for the audience to ponder the many inconsistencies in the narrative.
Unlike Ghosh’s 2012 film whose ending was difficult to predict, “Kahaani 2” makes no attempt to pull off one last hoax on the viewer, but it is to Ghosh and co-writer Ritesh Shah’s credit that they manage keep you engaged despite the lack of a shocking twist in the end.
But if any one person should take credit for “Kahaani 2”, it is Vidya Balan, whose powerhouse performance is the rock on which the film stands. She is at once vulnerable, angry and a little unhinged, putting in what must be one of her best performances of her career. She is ably supported by Arjun Rampal, who is the surprise element with his role as the wry, languorous police officer who tries to get to the bottom of the mystery. Not well-known for his acting abilities, Rampal is wonderfully understated, as are the rest of the cast including Jugal Hansraj and child actor Naisha Khanna.
But for a film that builds up wonderfully, “Kahaani 2” fails to finish off in style.