Mumbai, 02 Dec 2016 11:51 IST
The sequel to Kahaani draws you in, but does not throw you off with its big revelations.
Film: Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh (U/A)
Runtime: 119 min
Director Sujoy Ghosh's Kahaani was universally loved as one of the best suspense thrillers to come out of India. To live up to those standards is an enormous task. What made Kahaani work was its refreshing setting in Kolkata, memorably mysterious characters, a strong female protagonist, a tight script that kept you guessing, and a big revelation in the end that left you in shock. These could be called the quintessential elements for any film made under the Kahaani franchise.
In Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh, Ghosh draws you in instantly with a gripping opening, where Mini (Tunisha Sharma), the partially paralysed daughter of Vidya Sinha (Vidya Balan), gets abducted by someone. Vidya gets hit by a car before she can get to her and goes into coma. Inspector Inderjeet Singh (Arjun Rampal) reports on the accident and discovers that she has an alias, Durga Rani Singh, who is wanted for kidnapping and murder. His investigation of the case seems quite suspect as he does not report back to his senior and conceals evidence.
The story gets engaging and compelling as Inder begins to read Durga's diary. It reveals a disturbed Durga, haunted by her own childhood, being drawn to a little girl (Naisha Khanna) probably suffering abuse at the hands of her creepy uncle (Jugal Hansraj) and a creepier grandmother (Amba Sanyal).
Durga's obsession with the girl is heartrending and mysterious at the same time. Is she really doing good or is she only hiding her dark side?
The proceedings are fast and gripping, tautly edited by Namrata Rao.
The first half sets you up nicely for the thrilling proceedings of the second half. But though exciting, the second part is riddled with loopholes and contrivances that spoil your experience.
How did the police never find out that an accused was married until the fag end? How did marriage records get destroyed by a virus just at the right time? Why were Durga's phone records never checked? How did nobody care to look for forensic evidence of bodies burnt in the fire? Saying that our country's police is that inept won't suffice as these are key elements of the plot.
Also, why would someone who is trying to get revenge personally suddenly revive the eight-year-old kidnapping-and-murder case and get the police involved? How could a gravely injured Durga, bleeding from the stitches on her stomach, superheroically run away and fight it out?
I have many more questions!
What is unquestionable, though, is Vidya's clinical performance. She portrays with nuance and sensitivity the role of a woman with a painful past, struggling to build a romantic relationship and bravely saving the life of an innocent girl. She makes the eccentricities, desperation, paranoia and motivations of Durga believable.
Rampal plays his part earnestly and backs up Vidya solidly. This is surely one of his better performances.
Hansraj plays a character in complete contrast to his image or what he has played so far and he does feel quite evil.
The first Kahaani was an edge-of-the-seat thriller whose pieces came together at the very end — with a twist in the climax that outsmarted almost every wannabe Sherlock Holmes in the audience.
This time Ghosh and co-writer Ritesh Shah keep things simpler and manipulate the audience a lot less. In the process, they fail to outsmart you completely as you may guess several, if not all, aspects of the mystery. And the denouement is unsatisfactory. But just like Kahaani, what they do correctly with the sequel is that they engage you and don't give you enough time to think.
If you have seen and loved Kahaani for its surprise twist, you may sit through this one expecting to be thrown off with that one big revelation in the climax. It comes, but the events leading up to it and the events that follow aren't as smart as you would have liked them to be.
Kahaani 2 is not the worthiest sequel, but it's still a thrilling, mysterious and compelling story of the bond between a troubled woman and an abused little girl. You may not leave the theatre scratching your head though, trying to put all the pieces together. Instead, you may find yourself wondering if many of those pieces were plausible and whether the complete picture is out of the realm of reality. And that's where the film falters.