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Kahaani
Directed by Sujoy Ghosh
Produced by Sujoy Ghosh
Kushal Kantilal Gada
Written by Ritesh Shah
Sutapa Sikdar
Sujoy Ghosh
Screenplay by Sujoy Ghosh
Suresh Nair
Nikhil Vyas
Story by Sujoy Ghosh
Advaita Kala
Starring Vidya Balan
Parambrata Chatterjee
Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Indraneil Sengupta
Saswata Chatterjee
Music by Vishal-Shekhar
Cinematography Setu
Edited by Namrata Rao
Production
company
Boundscript Motion Pictures
Distributed by Viacom 18 Motion Pictures
Pen India Pvt.Ltd
Release dates
  • 9 March 2012 (2012-03-09)
Running time 122 minutes[1]
Country India
Language Hindi
Budget INR8 crore (US$1.3 million)
Box office INR104 crore (US$17 million)
(worldwide gross)[2]

Kahaani (IPA: [kəˈɦaːni]; English: Story) is a 2012 Indian thriller film directed, co-written and co-produced by Sujoy Ghosh. It stars Vidya Balan, Parambrata Chatterjee and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Balan portrays Vidya Bagchi, a pregnant woman in search of her missing husband in the city of Kolkata during the Durga Puja festivities; she is helped in her quest by Satyaki "Rana" Sinha (Chatterjee) and Khan (Siddiqui).

Made on a shoestring budget[3][4] of INR8 crore (US$1.3 million), Kahaani was developed by writer Advaita Kala and Ghosh, based on an initial idea from Ghosh. Shooting took place in Kolkata (earlier known as Calcutta), often employing guerrilla filmmaking strategy in streets to avoid unwanted attention. The film was noted as a deft portrayal of Kolkata and for the using many crew and cast members from the city. Kahaani explores themes of feminism and motherhood in a male-dominated Indian society. Ghosh admitted to using several allusions to Satyajit Ray's films such as Charulata (1964) and Aranyer Dinratri (1970). Additionally, critics compared the twist ending of the plot to the Hollywood film Taking Lives (2004).

Kahaani released worldwide on 9 March 2012 to major critical acclaim. Critics praised the screenplay, the cinematography and the performances of the lead actors. Word-of-mouth publicity and good critical response helped Kahaani to become an unexpected sleeper hit, with a 50-day worldwide gross of INR104 crore (US$17 million). At the end of its theatrical run, the film won several awards, including three National Film Awards and five Filmfare Awards; the latter included trophies for Best Director (Ghosh) and Best Actress (Balan).

Plot[edit]

The film opens with a poison-gas attack on a Kolkata Metro Rail compartment, killing the passengers on board. Two years after the incident Vidya Bagchi (Vidya Balan), a pregnant software engineer, arrives in Kolkata (previously called Calcutta) during Durga Puja festivities in search of her missing husband, Arnab Bagchi. A police officer, Satyaki "Rana" Sinha (Parambrata Chatterjee), offers her help. Although Vidya claims that Arnab came on an assignment for the National Data Center (NDC), initial probes suggest that no person named Arnab worked in NDC.

Agnes D'mello, the human resources head at the NDC, suggests to Vidya that her husband resembled Milan Damji (Indraneil Sengupta), an ex-employee of NDC. Before Agnes can obtain Damji's records, she is killed by Bob Biswas (Saswata Chatterjee), an assassin working undercover as a life insurance agent. Vidya and Rana break into the old office of NDC to collect documents on Damji. They barely escape an encounter with Bob, who is also looking for the documents. Meanwhile, the attempts to obtain Damji's records rattle two Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials—the chief Bhaskaran K. (Dhritiman Chatterjee) and his deputy Khan (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). Khan arrives in Kolkata and reveals that Damji was an IB agent gone rogue and was responsible for the poison-gas attack. In spite of Khan's warnings , Vidya continues her search, fearing that Arnab's resemblance to Damji has led him into trouble.

The address on Damji's record leads Vidya and Rana to a dilapidated flat. An errand boy of the neighbourhood tea stall identifies R. Sridhar, an officer of NDC, as a frequent visitor to Damji's flat. This leads Sridhar to instruct Bob to kill Vidya. Following a failed attempt to kill Vidya, Bob is run over by a tempo during a chase. Examination of Bob's mobile phone leads Vidya and Rana to an IP address sending instructions to kill her. They break into Sridhar's office to verify his IP address but Sridhar is alerted electronically. He returns to his office and pursues the duo. Following a scuffle, Vidya accidentally shoots Sridhar which upsets Khan, who had wanted Sridhar alive.

Sridhar's computer data reveals a code which, when deciphered, is Bhaskaran's phone number. Vidya calls Bhaskaran to tell him that she has retrieved sensitive documents from Sridhar's office and if Bhaskaran helps Vidya find her husband, she would surrender the documents to him. Bhaskaran tells Vidya to contact the local police as he is not associated with this. However, Vidya soon gets a call from an unknown number, warning her that she should hand over the documents to the caller if she wishes to see her husband alive. Khan thinks the caller is Milan Damji.

Vidya goes to meet Damji, with Rana and Khan in pursuit. During their negotiations about the documents and the whereabouts of her husband, Damji attacks Vidya, hitting her in the abdomen. He points his gun at Vidya, but is thwarted by the prosthetic abdomen which Vidya has been using to fake her pregnancy. She kills a baffled Damji and flees into the crowd before the arrival of police, leaving a thank-you note for Rana and a pen drive containing data from Sridhar's computer. Rana, based on several past incidents, deduces that no Vidya or Arnab Bagchi ever existed; she had been using the police and the IB for some task. The data from the drive leads to Bhaskaran's arrest.

Vidya is revealed as the widow of Arup Basu (Abir Chatterjee), an IB officer and a colleague of Damji, who was killed in the poison-gas attack. In her mission to take revenge of her husband's death, Vidya was helped by retired IB officer colonel Pratap Bajpayee (Darshan Jariwala), who had suspected the involvement of one of the top IB officials in the attack.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

Sujoy Ghosh approached novelist and script-writer Advaita Kala with the idea for the film.[5] Kala took inspiration from her experience in Kolkata, where she had followed her boyfriend in 1999, akin to the protagonist in the film.[6] She reported that despite facing a language barrier and the chaos and poverty of the metropolis, she was charmed by the warmth of the people of the city, which was reflected in the film.[7] Kala started writing in 2009 and finished the 185-page script by February 2010.[8][9] Kala's research included reading the books Open Secrets: India's Intelligence Unveiled by Maloy Krishna Dhar and India's External Intelligence: Secrets of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) by V.K. Singh.[6] As of March 2012, Kala, whose first novel Almost Single was a trend-setter in India's chick lit genre,[10] is planning to publish a novelisation of of the film.[7]

"For me, the reason behind shooting in Kolkata was that the world in the film has to look believable. As a writer, I have to know my city—the darkness and the light of the city. I know Kolkata and I wanted to exploit it to the peak in terms of characterization."[11]

—Sujoy Ghosh on choosing Kolkata

Ghosh, who co-wrote the story and the screenplay, began to plan the film while he was waiting for the release of Aladin (2009), but the dismal response to Aladin was a setback. He had to approach several producers to finance him, but was refused[12] and discouraged from making the film owing to three factors: a pregnant woman as the lead star, a bunch of unknown Bengali actors as the supporting cast and Kolkata as a backdrop.[13] Yashraj Films nearly agreed to produce the film. However, Ghosh was asked to sign an agreement to direct three films which he declined, as he did not want that much commitment.[12]

The idea of setting the film in Kolkata came from Bengali film actor Prosenjit Chatterjee, who insisted that Ghosh shoot in the city.[14] Ghosh selected Kolkata for several reasons: the director's acquaintance with the city, its mix of modernity and old-world charm,[14] and budget constraints. Making movies in Kolkata was cheaper than Mumbai or Delhi, the shooting locations of most Bollywood films.[15]

In an interview with Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN, Ghosh admitted that after his two preceding directorial ventures Aladin and Home Delivery performed miserably at the box office, Kahaani was his last chance to create a niche as a director.[16] He further added that the film's plot twist came somewhat accidentally. He described the skeleton of the story to a friend in Kolkata during its development. The friend called him back a few days later and asked how his film was going. The friend mistakenly imagined sequences which he assumed to be parts of the plot. The idea for the twist ending came from these imagined sequences.[17]

Casting[edit]

Vidya Balan was the first choice of both writer Advaita Kala and director Sujoy Ghosh.[7] Ghosh had planned for a long time to work with Balan and approached her in 2010.[11] When Ghosh gave her a brief outline of the plot, Balan turned him down; she only accepted after reading the completed script.[18]

Ghosh chose a host of Bengali actors as he wanted to make the characters look and sound as real as possible.[19] He said, "For me, having actors who look like the characters they play is half the job done."[20] The role of the Inspector Satyaki "Rana" Sinha was first offered to Chandan Roy Sanyal, but he could not take the part due to other commitments;[21] then Parambrata Chatterjee was chosen to play the role. Chatterjee is an actor in Bengali film industry, a regional film-industry of India based in Kolkata. Ghosh had met Chatterjee in 2006 when the latter was showcasing the film The Bong Connection (2006) at the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image festival. Impressed by Chatterjee's acting in the film, Ghosh later offered him the role in Kahaani.[22] Chatterjee had earlier worked with Balan in the Bengali film Bhalo Theko (2003), which was Balan's film debut.[23]

The casting director Roshmi Banerjee suggested Nawazuddin Siddiqui for the role of Khan. Siddiqui, who was doing only minor roles in Bollywood at that time, was surprised that for the first time he would not have to portray a beggar.[12] Saswata Chatterjee, another Bengali actor, was surprised as well when he was offered the role of the contract killer Bob Biswas. He thought there were suitable actors in Hindi film industry for the role.[24] He said that Ghosh had known him since childhood and was impressed with his acting, so he wanted him as Bob Biswas.[25]

Ghosh went against the expectations of casting a popular actor from Bollywood and signed on Abir Chatterjee, an actor of the Bengali film industry, to play the role of Balan's husband. According to Ghosh, popular Bollywood actors were not willing to work with him after the debacle of his two previous films. He also believed that a known face would have been a disadvantage because a known actor would be expected to have increased screen-time.[26] Several other Bengali film and television actors, such as Indraneil Sengupta and Kharaj Mukherjee, were cast in supporting roles in the film.[21]

Characters[edit]

Before the shooting of the film began, Balan started to use a prosthetic belly to look as close to authentically pregnant as possible. According to news reports, she met doctors and pregnant women to learn about the typical lifestyle and nuances of a pregnant woman, along with making lists of rules and superstitions followed by pregnant women.[27] Balan said that during her college days, she often used to imitate pregnant ladies during stand up acting among friends. That experience helped her during the shooting.[28]

Ghosh, while briefing Chatterjee about his character Bob Biswas, used the phrase "Binito Bob" (meaning polite Bob), which crystallised the notion of Bob's manners. Further discussions led to the inclusion of paunch and a bald patch. Chatterjee devised the mannerism of rubbing his nails together as some Indians believe doing that helps prevent hair fall. The mannerism was well-noted and praised by the viewers.[25] Ghosh expressed his gratitude to Chatterjee for portraying Bob Biswas in an effective manner. He emphasized that the character of Bob Biswas is akin to a common man, and Chatterjee portrayed it in a way that the viewers can expect Bob to be around them anytime and anywhere.[29]

In an interview, Parambrata Chatterjee told he did not identify with the character Rana due to the difference between his own urban upbringing and the rural background of Rana.[30] Chatterjee visited police stations and did some research "on their work, mindset and other relevant things" to prepare for the role.[30] The character Khan was envisaged as a ruthless, arrogant, expletive-spewing officer who cares nothing about the emotional or social consequences of his behavior.[31] Siddiqui said that he was surprised on being offered the role, and wondered how could he portray the arrogance needed for the character.[32] Ghosh built Khan as a character with lean physical build who was full of mental strength, loyalty and patriotism. Khan uses a relatively cheap brand of cigarette (Gold Flake) despite his high official post; Siddiqui had smoked that brand of cigarette throughout his struggling days in Bollywood and thereafter.[12]

Filming[edit]

Filming took place on the streets of Kolkata, where Ghosh often employed the art of guerrilla filmmaking (shooting in real locations without any previous knowledge given to onlookers) to avoid unwanted attention.[33] The film was shot in 64 days[34] including during the Durga Puja festival of 2010. The climax, which takes place on the night of Vijayadashami (the last day of Durga Puja), was shot on the night of Vijayadashami in the premises of a Barowari (publicly organized) Durga Puja celebration in the Ballygunge neighborhood of Kolkata. Most of the crowd in the climax were not actors. Some actors mingled with the crowd—their job was to appreciate the camera angles and accordingly apply sindoor (vermilion) on Balan's face so that accidental exposure of her eyes to sindoor could be avoided.[12] The director admitted that one challenge was to deal with the people who did not have any inkling about the on-going shooting, and often stared straight at the camera or the characters.[35] The sequences in Kolkata Metro were shot in a span of 4 days.[36]

The guest house in which the protagonist stayed was chosen by Ghosh, who saw the three-storied building through the window of a neighboring hotel on an evening in April 2010. The place was later booked for 10 days for INR40,000 (US$650). Ghosh chose a room with windows overlooking a busy road and gave it an old-fashioned look by replacing the designer grills of the window in the room with old-fashioned wooden ones, and by painting the room with some rough patches. The guest house employees were requested to keep the shooting schedule a secret.[37]

Themes and influences[edit]

After Ishqiya (2010), No One Killed Jessica (2011) and The Dirty Picture (2011), Kahaani was Balan's fourth woman-centric film[38] to win widespread praise and coverage for her non-conventional approach in portraying strong female roles.[39][40][41] According to Zee News, Kahaani is a woman's film about "role reversals, breaking of stereotypes, turning clichés inside out, a woman's journey, and the way she carves a niche for herself in the male-dominated mentalscape of the society."[42] Trisha Gupta of The Indian Express also finds the theme of feminism in the film.[43] Ghosh states that one aspect of his project "is a study of motherhood" and says the instinct of a mother to protect her baby inspired him to develop the story.[44]

The symbolism of goddess Durga was utilized in the film, by comparing the protagonist's killing of the villain with the allegorical yearly return of goddess Durga to slay the demon Mahishasura.[45] According to Uddalak Mukherjee of the Telegraph, "Durga Puja, with its paraphernalia of idols, immersion processions, pandals, even an entire crowd of women draped in white saris with red borders, is central to the film’s plot and visual aesthetic."[45]

A road in Kolkata showing congested traffic and yellow taxis
A road in Kolkata showing congested traffic and yellow taxis. The deft portrayal of the city in the film was noted by reviewers.

A theme that recurred in the film is the fleeting hint of romance between Rana and Vidya. Ghosh said that the delicate romance between these two characters was "the most progressive thing" he did in the film—suggesting a man falling in love with a pregnant woman. The director explained that the boy was initially "fascinated by someone who is literally a hero in his eyes," as Rana was awed by the computer skills of Vidya. Gradually, the fascinated boy moves into a zone where he tries to protect her.[46]

Some reviewers note that a major protagonist in the film is the city of Kolkata itself, commenting that the director portrayed Kolkata as "brimming with warm, sympathetic inhabitants",[47] and offered glimpses of everyday life of the city. A review in Rediff.com notes that the director pays a "fond yet understated tribute" to the city by incorporating imagery such as "yellow taxis, leisurely trams, congested traffic, claustrophobic metros, dilapidated brick houses, tapering alleys, rajnigandhas, lal paad saris, piping hot luchis". The review praised the "gorgeous depiction of how the city acquires a whole new level of luminosity and shakti during Durga Puja."[47] According to the reviewer, Kahaani did not bank on the usual stereotypes of Kolkata culture often used in Bollywood films, such as "O-emphasizing accent, dramatic play of conch shells, rasgulla/mishti doi excesses."[47] The director acknowledges that Kolkata "becomes a central character" of the film.[48] Gautaman Bhaskaran, writing for Gulf Times, notes that Kolkata imagery was polished up in the film,[49] and director Srijit Mukherji argues that the portrayal the city in Kahaani was akin to a Lonely Planet exotica on the city.[50] Uddalak Mukherjee of The Telegraph explains that Kolkata in Kahaani was cosmetic and lacked a deep menacing presence.[45] Mukherjee argues, the depiction of the city never matched the level of Satyajit Ray's Calcutta trilogy—where "aided by bloodshed, greed and decadence, ...Calcutta ..., even though a place of dreams, desires and hope, slides irreversibly into chaos, anxiety and a moral crisis, taking its residents with it".[45]

A painting by Gaganendranath Tagore depicting the color inspiration of the film
The colour scheme of Kahaani was inspired by the painting Pratima Visarjan by Gaganendranath Tagore.

Ghosh admits to several instances of allusions to Satyajit Ray's films. In one scene in the film, Vidya asks the manager of the guest house as to why there is no hot water in the tap although the signboard of the guest house claims "running hot water". The manager explains that the errand boy of the guest house runs to deliver hot water in a kettle whenever hot water is required, and that is why the signboard says "running hot water". Similarly, in Ray's Joy Baba Felunath (1979), an elderly gentleman asked the same question to a hotel manager, and received the same reply in a scalding manner.[51] In an interview in The Telegraph, Ghosh comments that the way Balan looks out and moves from window to window in the guest house room is reminiscent of Ray's Charulata (1964), where the actress Madhabi Mukherjee enjoys glimpses of the outside world through the blinds of windows. He acknowledges influence of Mahanagar (1963), another film directed by Ray noted for its portrayal of Kolkata. According to the director, he was inspired by particular scenes of Ray's Nayak (1966) to plan the portrayal of complex emotional issues between Vidya and the police officer Rana, especially Rana's awe in the presence of Vidya. Ghosh expresses his inspiration from Ray's Aranyer Dinratri (1970) in which Ray "wanted the audience to be inside the car with the four guys all the time. So the camera never leaves the car." Ghosh shot a similar scene, hoping the audience would become "like Vidya's fellow passenger."[52]

Besides Ray's films, Ghosh also admits inspiration from what he calls "visually striking" films of 1970s and 1980s, such as Deewaar (1975).[52] Critics have compared the fake pregnancy twist of Kahaani with similar sequences in the 2004 American psychological thriller Taking Lives.[51] The sequences towards the end of the film that explains the missing pieces of the mystery were compared to the use of a similar technique in the Hollywood film The Usual Suspects (1995).[53] Ghosh writes that the film was heavily influenced by the colour scheme of the Pratima Visarjan, a watercolour painting by Gaganendranath Tagore.[12]

Soundtrack[edit]

Kahaani
Soundtrack album by Vishal-Shekhar
Released 14 February 2012
Genre Film soundtrack
Length 28:18
Label T-Series
Vishal-Shekhar chronology
The Dirty Picture
(2011)
Kahaani
(2012)
Shanghai
(2012)

The film's music was composed by Vishal-Shekhar, while the lyrics were written by Vishal Dadlani, Anvita Dutt and Sandeep Srivasta. The album was released on 22 February 2012. Several of RD Burman's Hindi and Bengali compositions were used in the background. The soundtrack has six songs; the title song Kahaani features twice.

All lyrics written by Vishal Dadlani, Anvita Dutt and Sandeep Srivasta, except where noted. 

No. Title Singer(s) Length
1. "Aami Shotti Bolchi"   Usha Uthup, Vishwesh Krishnamurthy 03:20
2. "Piya Tu Kahe Rootha Re"   Javed Bashir 04:59
3. "Kahaani (Male)"   KK, Vishal Dadlani 04:26
4. "Tore Bina"   Sukhwinder Singh 05:52
5. "Kahaani (Female)"   Shreya Ghoshal, Vishal Dadlani 04:28
6. "Ekla Cholo Re" (Rabindra Sangeet) Amitabh Bachchan 05:13

The soundtrack received positive reviews, and critics praised the amalgam of Bengali with Hindi lyrics used in the songs. A review in CNN-IBN mentions that the song "Ami Shotti Bolchi" is able to partially convey the feel of Kolkata and the soundtrack "features right voices as per the overall mood of the album."[54] Mumbai Mirror rated the album with 3 stars out of 5 concluding that, "good music certainly has its way of standing out among the ordinary."[55] Reviewing the soundtrack, Anand Vaishnav for India Times commented that, "Kahaani as an album, stays honest to the theme of the film."[56]

Marketing and release[edit]

Kahaani's first-look poster was launched on 2 December 2011,[57] and the official trailer on 5 January 2012.[58] The first look poster, portraying a pregnant Vidya Balan as the protagonist and lacking any romantic element, was well-received by the public. The critics set their expectations low, owing to the director's last two box office failures.[59] Balan appeared in public with a prosthetic pregnant belly during promotional events of the film and mingled with people in various public places, including railway stations, bus stands, public transports and markets.[60][61][62] She often carried a sketch of her on-screen missing husband that she showed to people and asked for their help in finding him.[60][63] The film was associated with Ibibo.com to develop an online game on their social networking website. The game The Great Indian Parking Wars, required players to park Vidya's taxi on a street to help her in the journey to find her missing husband. It was a hit among online gamers, reaching 50,000 hits within 10 days of its launch.[64]

Actress Vidya Balan cuts a cake celebrating the success of Kahaani while actor Parambrata Chatterjee watches, along with several others.
Vidya Balan (off-center in black saree) and Parambrata Chatterjee (towards left) celebrating the success of Kahaani.

On 5 March 2012, prior to Kahaani's release, the Kolkata Metro Railway authorities objected to a scene from the film where Balan, waiting to board a train, is pushed by a man onto the tracks as the train arrives. The railway officials requested the film's producer to remove the scene from the promos and the film, as it would remind people of the past acts of suicides on the tracks which tarnished the railway's image.[65] The filmmakers screened the scene for the authorities and explained that nothing in the film would affect the image of the Metro railway or prompt people to commit suicide on the tracks. The railway officials were convinced and withdrew their objections, and the scene was retained, although it was removed from trailers.[66]

Kahaani was released on 9 March 2012, a day after the International Women's Day.[67] It played on 1100 screens worldwide.[68] Shilpa Rathnam from CNN-IBN stated that although Kahaani was ready before The Dirty Picture, distributors deferred the release of the former, fearing that the role of a sexy siren (in The Dirty Picture) after that of a pregnant woman might not be received well.[59] A special screening of the film was organized on 16 March 2012 in Bengaluru by Cinepolis for the women of SOS Children's Villages, an NGo that supports children and women from underprivileged families. More than 40 women attended the screening and, according to the director of the NGO, "cherished the movie and their time at the cinema."[69]

STAR TV bought the exclusive right to broadcast the film for a price of INR8 crore (US$1.3 million),[70][71] which was the highest-ever price paid for a female-centric film in India.[71] The Indian television premiere of the film took place on Star India's channel Movies OK[72] on 3 June 2012.[73] The DVD of the film was released on 17 May 2012[74] across all regions in a one-disc pack in NTSC format. Distributed by Shemaroo Entertainment,[75] it contained additional content, such as behind-the-scene footage, video of celebration parties after its theatrical release, and music videos of the songs of the film.[76] The VCD and Blu-Ray versions were at the same time.[77][78]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Bollywood Hungama 4/5 stars[79]
CNN-IBN 3.5/5 stars[80]
Hindustan Times 3.5/5 stars[53]
Indo-Asian News Service 4/5 stars[81]
Rediff 4/5 stars[47]
The Hindu Favourable[82]
Outlook 3/5 stars[83]
The Telegraph 9/10 stars[84]
The Times of India 4.5/5 stars[85]
Yahoo 2.5/5 stars[86]
Zee News 4/5 stars[87]

Kahaani garnered generally positive reviews from critics. According to review aggregator ReviewGang the film received a rating of 7.5 out of 10,[88] based on the reviews by professional critics. Good word of mouth publicity played a part in its popularity besides the positive reviews.[89][90] The Telegraph called the film "a mind-juggling medley of manipulation masquerading as a 'mother of a story'".[84] Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, and praised Balan's acting.[79] The Times of India commented "Once again, a 'pregnant' Vidya, ironically displays more 'male ornaments' ... than most heroes."[85] The reviews in Rediff,[47] Indo Asian News Service,[81] CNN-IBN,[80] Zee News,[87] Hindustan Times,[53] and The Hindu[82] were unanimously positive, and noted script, direction, cinematography, and acting as strong points of the film. Noted film actress and multiple National Award winner Shabana Azmi lauded Balan for her performance," As an actor, I could see she [Balan] was making all the right moves throughout the film. There was not a single artificial note in her performance."[91] Russell Edwards, the reviewer for Variety, praised the cast, cinematography, and direction, and commented that despite occasional glitches, the "adroit thriller ... maintains momentum and credibility."[92]

Many reviewers criticised the film's climax and certain features, feeling that they deviated from its general style. Rituparna Chatterjee of CNN-IBN noted that the climax of the film was a "huge dampener" and explained, "The diabolic twist at that juncture got underplayed... What follows is a sobfest... the apologetic explanation of why she does what she does. Justifying her action comes across more as an effort to appease the Indian morality..."[93] The Outlook review noted, "At times, Kahaani is too clever, at others extremely pedestrian like in the depiction of computer hacking and IB operations, not to speak of the ludicrous terrorist angle and the all-too predictable Durga Puja setting for that mythology tie-in."[83] It adds that the "spoon-feeding" of reasons at the end dampens the intrigue factor.[83] The review in Yahoo! India comments that the Durga metaphor at the end was enforced, and that the film over-indulged in Bengali stereotypes.[86] Gautaman Bhaskaran, in his review in Gulf Times, noted that the sometimes-handheld photography was "as irksome as the plot with a sleuth too many and cops galore."[49]

Though Kahaani received critical acclaim, it was a slow starter at the box office, opening to a poor response on the first day.[94][95] but gradually picking up on the following days.[96] The film earned almost INR2 crore (US$320,000) from the state of West Bengal within the first three days of its release. At multiplexes in Kolkata, occupancy increased from 47% on Friday 9 March, the day of release, to 77% on 10 March and to around 97% on 11 March.[97] The film collected nearly INR24 crore (US$3.9 million) in its first week, well beyond its production cost of INR8 crore (US$1.3 million).[98][99] It grossed INR19 crore (US$3.1 million) in second week to make a two-week total of around INR43 crore (US$7.0 million) in India;[100] this led Box Office India to declare the film a "Super Hit".[101] The film was successful in the international box office as well, garnering INR8 crore (US$1.3 million) within 10 days of its release in seven markets—UK, US, UAE, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Pakistan.[102] By the third week, it had grossed INR75 crore (US$12 million), including India and overseas market.[68][103] The Hindustan Times reported that Kahaani made a worldwide gross of INR104.43 crore (US$17 million)[2] within 50 days of its release.

Kahaani was nominated for, and won, many awards. At the 58th Filmfare Awards, it was nominated for five awards, including Best Actress for Balan and Best Director for Ghosh; it won all five.[104][105] The film was nominated for thirteen awards at the 19th Colors Screen Awards, and won five, including Best Actress for Balan and Best Story.[106] At the 14th Zee Cine Awards, Kahaani won five awards, including Best Film (Critics) and Best Actress (Critics) for Balan.[107][108] In the 60th iteration of India's National Film Awards, Ghosh won Best Screenplay (Original), Namrata Rao won Best Editing, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui won a Special Jury award.[109]

Impact[edit]

Following the success of Kahaani, Kolkata became a preferred destination for filmmakers in Bollywood.[110][111] Several film-makers have opined that the landscape, streets and lanes of Mumbai and Delhi had been overused in the films in the last few decades, while Kolkata had a different appeal; they specified the city's metro trains, rickety trams, hand-pulled rickshaws, dingy bylanes, British era buildings and iconic structures like Howrah Bridge and Victoria Memorial.[112] National Award winner Rituparna Sengupta commented, "From foreign locations, the films have shifted their focus to Indian culture and Kahaani is one of the examples where we saw the filmmaker looking at West Bengal for inspiration."[113]

Monalisa Guest House, the tourist lodge which hosted Vidya Bagchi in the film, became a tourist spot among local residents.[114] It attracted hundreds of visitors since the release of the film and saw an increase in business. With Kahaani as the USP, the hotel planned to increase the tariffs and renovate the rooms with modern furniture and some photographs from the film.[37]

The character Bob Biswas became an internet phenomenon following the release of the film. The pot-bellied contract killer became the subject of multiple jokes, one-liners and pieces of pop art, circulated through Facebook and Twitter.[115] "Nomoshkar, Aami Bob Biswas... Ek minute?" (Hello, I am Bob Biswas... do you have a minute?)—the monologue that the character repeatedly used in the film just before murdering the unsuspecting victims—was used in different memes.[24][116] A graphic novel based on Bob Biswas was being planned by groups of fans, as of March 2012.[117] A TV serial based on the life of Bob was also planned, as of April 2012.[118]

In March 2012, Sujoy Ghosh announced that he intended to develop Kahaani as an ongoing series. He was inspired by Satyajit Ray's Feluda detective stories and wanted to continue the stories of Vidya Bagchi on similar lines, with Balan reprising the role.[119] The shooting of Kahaani 2 is scheduled to begin in 2013.[120] As of May 2012, two remakes of Kahaani in Tamil and Telugu are planned. Endemol India, a TV production house, announced that their remakes of Kahaani would be their first venture in film business. Sekhar Kammula is scheduled to direct the Telugu version, in which Nayantara will play Vidya's role.[121]

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External links[edit]