Kahaani was a tough act to follow and its sequel huffs and puffs to match up to it.
This time around, writer-director Sujoy Ghosh weaves his thriller around the starkly important territory of child abuse by a senior family member. However, since it’s a topic one has seen in films as diverse as Monsoon Wedding and Highway, it’s not exactly a novel premise.
The promos promised an intriguing thriller over Vidya Balan’s identity. But the confusion over wanted criminal Durga Rani Singh and the innocuous Vidya Sinha comatose on a hospital bed is resolved early without much tension in the tale.
The link between Sub-inspector Indrajit Singh and Durga is leaked out early, therefore affording little astonishment when it’s finally unraveled. I’d add that Indrajit’s involvement in Durga’s case is a blandly convenient coincidence and since his past connection with Durga has little relevance to the main story, it doesn’t excitedly push the pace. In fact, the West Bengal cops come off as buffoons if they can’t get even the name of Durga’s husband all through the film.
When a film rides on the saleability of a franchise, comparisons are unavoidable. Unfortunately, the only similarity is that Durga Rani Singh is also a thriller like its predecessor was. In the character sketches and performances, Kahaani 2 falls short as it doesn’t throw up interesting new characters like killer Bob Biswas from the original or cops as impactful as Parambrato Chatterjee and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Arjun Rampal as Indrajit Singh makes a handsome cop but there’s no scene or dialogue that makes him excel. Vidya Balan does bring her immense talent to the role of Durga Rani but again, it doesn’t demand anything particularly stunning from her. Jugal Hansraj manages a good comeback as Mohit chacha.
For some strange reason, Sujoy has filmed it entirely with shadows and low lighting perhaps to create an eerie mood. But it takes away from clearly viewing certain shots like Arjun seeing Durga’s face when making love to his wife. There’s not much humor around either and jokes about Indrajit’s gut feeling or his promotion are repeated once too often to retain a smile.
The grandmother’s hand in the child abuse is another track that falters with her wanting to take an extreme step on her own grandchild. The return of the abuser and a corrupt policewoman after eight years should’ve been fraught with tension but there’s no unexpectedness anywhere to catch the viewer by surprise.
Even the final twist of Durga staging her own death evokes a Deja Vu feeling. And the cops continue to look like bumbling clowns if they don’t even look for bodies assumed perished in a fire.
For a thriller with loopholes, Kahaani 2 gets a 2.5 star rating.