Starring: Vidya Balan, Parambrata Chaterjee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Director: Sujoy Ghosh
Running Time: 122 mins
Kahaani is an Indian film about a woman who travels from her home in London to Kolkata to investigate the disappearance of her husband, and in the process stumbles across a complex and dark conspiracy that might hold the key to her husband’s whereabouts.
Sometimes you just want to sit down and watch a film that tells a really good story, and that’s exactly what Kahaani does. A brilliantly captivating thriller from beginning to end, the film is entertaining as it is intriguing, playing with just the right amount of action, drama, humour and complex storytelling to keep you entirely engrossed, and provide an enjoyable two hours at the same time.
There’s a lot to unpack about Kahaani, but the most important thing to say about it is that it’s just a really good mystery-thriller. It’s not an edge-of-your-seat, intense rollercoaster, but it grabs you right from the start with a classic mystery story that’s a whole lot more intriguing and complex than first meets the eye.
In that, it’s reminiscent of classic thrillers like North By Northwest, where you follow a riveting and immensely entertaining story that unfolds in what seems like a fairly normal manner, but the slow build-up of clues, coincidences and strange encounters bring a completely different dynamic to the story, and even more excitement to proceedings throughout.
In all honesty, this film is filled to the brim with traits and techniques that you could call very Hitchcockean. Kahaani isn’t quite as stylish as the films by the Master of Suspense (although it’s still a very well-directed movie), but it has a screenplay with a tendency to take you in directions that you just can’t see coming, with the finale of the movie working both as a satisfying conclusion to the story, yet a whole world away from where you started.
As we follow Vidya Balan’s determined character go to every length to find her husband, mystery and suspicion builds up as every person she encounters seems unwilling to acknowledge his existence. Now, that alone makes for a brilliant first act, but the way in which Kahaani continues to develop that snowball effect of mystery and frustration on her part as well as move in a different direction in the latter stages is really great to see. Couple that with brilliant twists galore throughout, and the film turns into one of the most entertainingly unpredictable thrillers I’ve seen in quite a while.
But not only is it just a clever, complex mystery-thriller, because Kahaani also has a whole lot more at play. While its mystery intrigue will definitely have you stroking your chin throughout, the movie keeps the ball rolling with some entertaining bursts of action that really help to cement its impressive pacing and energy, as well as good humour and repartee between characters throughout.
As a result, more than just a mysterious drama, Kahaani is a thoroughly entertaining blockbuster. Of course, it rightly prioritises the mystery throughout, but it doesn’t neglect a more fun-loving side to its story either, something that I was delighted to see.
Overall, I absolutely loved Kahaani. Above all a brilliant thriller that tells a great story, it’s a film that had me entirely captivated from beginning to end, with an intriguing brand of Hitchcockean mystery and storytelling that’s brilliantly complex, unpredictable and equally entertaining. Couple that with good energy brought about by bursts of action and a great sense of humour – not to mention an immensely likable lead performance from Vidya Balan – and you have a film that will totally grab you from start to finish, which is why I’m giving it an 8.4.