Vidya or the rightly pronounced 'bidya' (in pitch perfect Bengali) aka Vidya Balan from Sujoy Ghosh's deservingly intriguing and compelling winner KAHAANI (2012) is back. Does it upgrades itself and clears the gloom created by recent sequels like ROCK ON 2, FORCE 2, etc.?. Does it justifies in gathering '2' much (read too much) of attention around itself?. Dekhtein hai (let's see).
It doesn't matter in whatever pedestals you put 'KAHAANI', KAHAANI 2
: DURGA RANI SINGH the sequel to the terrific 2012 KAHAANI (or we say an independent second installment of a series to be precise) is a relative disappointment as far as the genre, film and the thrill goes.KAHAANI 2 POSTERS
The basic ingredients which are now familiar with Sujoy Gosh's films - kidnapping, diaries (or tapes) - TE3N, flash back, memories, loss, hunt, guilt, a child and of course Kolkata (Bengal - in a way similar to Delhi, Punjabis and Punjab we have observed in YRF's productions) is twined with a shocking and disturbing twist (more about this twist later) certainly making this exercise deserving of the second installment on paper.
Giving enough reason for Vidya Balan to bounce back as DURGA RANI SINGH and clear her four year old debts with four back to back debacles. But alas, the 'kahaani' (read script, thrill, mystery) of KAHAANI 2: DURGA RANI SINGH fails to hold the candle to the much higher talent and profile of Sujoy Gosh that we saw in the first installment that made way for a new compelling and intriguing story teller.
Anyhow on the brighter side and without any denial Vidya Balan's terrific act and completeness as an actress in the film with some brilliant support from Arjun Rampal in this Bangla - set mediocre, predictable and routine thriller action drama ends up as a bearable and one time watch provided you don't carry any baggage and shed those high expectations.
Sujoy Gosh and Suresh Nair pen this second installment that begins with a bang. The melodious 'yeh ratein nayi purani' from the movie JULIE composed by Rajesh Roshan and penned by Anand Bakshi sung in the soulful voice of Lata Mangeshar opens the curtains signaling a mysterious beginning.
It's early morning in West Bengal's Chandan Nagar Vidya Sinha (Vidya Balan
) is penning a diary she has started writing after eight years we are told. Vidya shares her moments with her physically challenged child Mini (Tunisha Sharma) on Sunday and next day in the morning Vidya is ditched by her alarm and she gets late for work. Mini's caretaker a nurse has not arrived but Mini assures that she will be fine. Keeping the doors open and cursed by an outdated mobile phone that goes dead every now and then Vidya rushes to her work place. Sujoy rightly establishes the milieu of a middle class Bengali household and smoothly arranges the buildup. Mini goes missing and a phone call to Vidya makes her rush blindly on the streets resulting in getting knocked down by a speedy car. The injured Vidya goes into coma and hospitalized. Enters the suave and dapper sub inspector Inderjit Singh (Arjun Rampal) who gets access to Vidya's diary which she just started writing a day earlier (first sign of things getting obvious) and finds out that Vidya had a life in Kalimpong as - Durga Rani Singh a clerk in a school who gets close to Mini (Naisha Khanna) as they share a shocking and disturbing secret (revealing will act as a spoiler), this ugly and heinous secret leads into troublesome situations for Durga as the 'accused' - Mini's uncle (Jugal Hansraj) and sinister looking grandmother (Amba Sanyal) are after her.
Declared as a fugitive and wanted for kidnapping of Mini and a murder, Durga aka Vidya is a mystery for Inderjit. Is she a culprit or a victim?. So far so good. But this is the story till the first half. Arguably the most intriguing and brilliantly established first half seen in recent times even after those obvious predictable points.
Major problem of KAHAANI 2: DURGA RANI SINGH is its part 2. We mean the post interval portion which is seriously damaged by the curse of the second half and overwhelming predictability resulting in forced feeling of tension making us wonder whether we are watching a different film with the same cast and characters.?.
The uncanny resemblance to Tarantino's KILL BILL (a seriously injured woman escapes from Hospital to get even with the villain), a tribute to the commercial pot boilers of the 70's and 80's where lost letters are replaced by lost mobiles and the baffling shift of the film from a whodunit thriller to a revenge drama and sort of a why I did it sort of an action drama spoils the show.
Surprisingly, the shocking twist that connects Durga with Mini results in just for shock and not exploited emotionally to the fullest on screen. Post interval the brilliant built up gets crashed from time to time and as the predictability and mediocrity sets in the pace goes slow evaporating the thrills from the said thriller. A couple of weird characters add salt to the injury. We have seen trigger happy cops here we have a 'razor' happy female cop and this 'honey' kills for money plus the old urchin on the roadside both seem to be added to give the movie a dark feeling but it fails. Adding to the forced dark intensity, the movie is unnecessarily dark throughout hospitals are shown functioning in darkness, even homes lack sunshine or light.
And last but not the least, Sujoy fails to capture the festive essence of Bengal as remarkably seen in KAHAANI and TE3N. It' s all forced darkness in its attempt to be a desi de noir with minimum 'light' and lighter moments.
Still, the superbly build up first half and Vidya Balan saves the film as a onetime watch. While Sujoy Gosh fails to realize the potential in this script, Vidya Balan gives everything required for her role as Vidya and Durga. Spot on right from frame one, Vidya gives a flawless performance in the film. It requires guts for a commercial Bollywood actress to remain make up free and untidy for the entire film and Vidya deserves extra brownie points in keeping her character alive throughout.
Arjun Rampal is suave and dapper providing excellent support. Special mention for Tunisha Sharma and Naisha Khanna who play Mini in different ages. Jugal Hansraj impresses with his villainy coming after a hiatus.
Technically, it's a well crafted movie where Tapan Basu's cinematography sets the right mood. Clinton Cerejo's songs are functional and the art work is adequate. Background score is alright.
All said and done, with all its predictability and lost opportunity KAHAANI 2: DURGA RANI SINGH is not a disaster but certainly a chapter on how to make a solid intriguing and shocking plot that concerns turn into a mediocre and routine action drama with limited thrills leaving the star power and super talents of actress like Vidya Balan do the rest. Watch it for the acting powers of Vidya Balan and the suave Arjun Rampal.