In Hindi cinema, it’s the age of the actress. Vidya Balan, like her contemporaries Kangana Ranaut and Deepika Padukone, is carrying the weight of the films they are featured in on their shoulders even as either a big banner or male star attraction is proving inadequate for the box office success of a film. It is also an era of the Bengali director who has moved the backdrop of a film from Mumbai to Kolkata or suburban Bengal with films like Barfi, Detective Byomkesh Bakshi, Piku, Kahaani 1 & 2…
Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh retains the darkness of Kahaani 1, but director Sujoy Ghosh changes the narrative a bit — from a suspense to a thriller. A cloudy Kalimpong, rainy Chandannagar and dusky Kolkata underscore the sombreness of the conte. We know the culprit; the question is not who did it; it is when and how the villain will be served his just desserts. A happy-to-be-deglamourised Balan fits perfectly into the shoes of Durga and Vidya Sinha.
With her past of an abused childhood, school receptionist Durga empathises with a little girl Minnie Dewan (Naisha Khanna) whom her uncle Mohit Dewan (Jugal Hansraj) is subjecting to the same trauma on a daily basis. As Durga tries to address the issue, the influential Dewan family traps her using the services of a bribed cop. How the chief protagonist escapes the trap, with the law tagging her with the label of a murderer on the run, and how she is forced to get even with the wrongdoers at a time when she would rather be a caring mother are two facets of the storyline — both keeping the audience engaged.
Most of the characters woven around the heroine — Durga is a winner indeed — come across as believable. The act of casting that deserves a separate mention is the choice of Tunisha Sharma as Minnie in her teens; she incredibly looks like a grown up Naisha Khanna. Sub-inspector Inderjeet Singh (Arjun Rampal), his pot-bellied boss Pranab Halder (Kharaj Mukherjee) and the considerate lover Arun (Tota Roy Chowdhury) are life-like. It’s only Rashmi Singh (Manini Chadha) who is unduly considerate — towards her husband Inderjeet that is. The wife’s reaction to the discovery of her man’s past is underwhelming, which is a flaw in the script.
The only other shortcoming is the writer-director’s presumption that the police can take some people for dead without discovering their corpses. Kahaani 2… is otherwise a film you shouldn’t miss.