Just How Lopsided Is ‘Kahaani 2’?

Kahaani 2Director: Sujoy Ghosh
Cast: Vidya Balan, Arjun Rampal, Tota Roy Chowdhury
Rating: ★★1/2

Sujoy Ghosh’s 2012 thriller Kahaani had a satisfyingly baroque plot and moved at a suspense-filled clip. The big reveal at the end felt somewhat derivative, yet the film is remembered as an engaging story. His Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh, which has no connection with the first movie, is much more simply plotted. The first half is encouragingly tense and salted with moments of real intrigue. But like a lot of Hindi films these days, Kahaani 2 succumbs to the curse of the second half. It unravels haphazardly as an unconvincing mash-up of hostage crisis, revenge drama and police procedural.

The first half keeps you hooked
Kahaani 2 opens with Vidya (Vidya Balan) and her wheelchair-bound daughter Mini living in a modest home in Chandannagar in West Bengal. Mini is kidnapped and Vidya, attempting to find her, meets with an accident, slipping into a coma. The case is investigated by Inderjit Singh (Arjun Rampal, looking as out of place in a small Bengali town as a bedouin in the tundra). It turns out that Inderjit and Vidya have a past connection. But he knows her as Durga Rani Singh. It also emerges that a Durga Rani Singh is wanted in an old kidnapping case.

Vidya Balan gives a measured performance
Balan’s controlled performance draws you into the back-story of Durga. She’s admirable as a withdrawn woman haunted by a traumatic past and taking tentative steps towards normalcy. She has fled Kolkata for Kalimpong where she works in a school, and is in a promising relationship with Arun (Tota Roy Chowdhury). Her life is thrown off its shaky course when events that remind her of her past occur. This time, she’s in a position to take action.

The film nosedives after the interval 
Watching the gradual build-up in the first half is like reading a good thriller. Like a textbook mystery story, every scene dangles a tantalising clue. But the second half is a downward spiral full of easy coincidences and a transparent twist at the end explained in an all-too-convenient flashback montage. A hammy scene in a hospital room involving a comatose Durga and a villainous assassin looks like a poor version of Kill Bill and the revenge angle, which involves Jugal Hansraj (returning years after being absent from the screen), is half-baked. It’s as if Ghosh ran out of steam midway through writing the movie. He also pays little heed to the relationship between Inderjit and Durga, which remains a tenuous narrative thread. As a result, the events that play out in the end fail to add up.

Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh was released in cinemas across the city on Friday, December 2.

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