India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Kahaani: Vidya’s latest is a taut thriller


If you go by the Bollywood formula, Sujoy Ghosh’s “Kahaani” doesn’t tick any of the boxes. It’s a thriller — a genre Bollywood usually stays away from; it’s got a female lead, hardly any songs and no distractions in the form of a comedy/romance track.

It does tick one crucial box though — it’s a well-made film, with some great characters and powerful acting, and if you are willing to ignore some plot holes and go with the flow, this is a very satisfying watch.

Vidya Balan plays Vidya Bagchi, a pregnant software engineer from London who comes to Kolkata in search of her missing husband. She discovers very quickly that no one seems to know where he is, and there are no records to show he even came to the city. Determined not to give up, she enlists the help of a young police officer, Rana (Parambrata Chattopadhyay), scouring the narrow lanes and crowded markets of Kolkata in the hope she can find some trace of the elusive Arnab Bagchi.

The deeper she digs, the more things get complicated, and it’s obvious that writers Ghosh and Advaita Kala couldn’t quite keep up. While the first half is gripping (the point when the film breaks for interval is nerve-wracking), “Kahaani” loses some steam in the second half.