Apart from being a proud Indian, my love for Bollywood cinema lies in its array of beautiful colours, the detail of its music and dance and the simplicity of its orthodoxy. Therefore it is exceptional when a movie can combine these aspects, yet still transcend them, to produce a cinematic masterpiece.
Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani (Hindi for ‘Story’), is the story of the determined Vidya Bagchi and her hunt for her husband. Between seven and eight months pregnant, Vidya makes the tiresome journey from London to Kolkata,West Bengal in a rather fragile state. Her husband has been missing, and Vidya is desperate to seek and find answers relating to his disappearance; for the sake of herself, and for the sake of her child. Vidya’s task is made difficult as everyone she speaks to denies having ever met her husband; it’s like he never existed. Vidya knows her husband exists –she has 8 months and growing proof of it– he couldn’t possibly be a figment of her imagination. Why then, is everyone lying to her? Were they lying to her? Or did Arnab Bagchi (Vidya’s husband) not travel to Kolkata in the first place? And if he didn’t, how does Vidya know every little detail, rather accurately, about the place he was living at?
After Vidya files a missing persons report at the police station, the police joke quite openly that there is a possibility that her husband impregnated her and left her. They truly believe that she is either delusional or has been played with – either way, there doesn’t seem to be a case for them to investigate.
Vidya is determined and unstoppable. With the help of a police officer (who has developed a soft spot for her), she navigates the streets of Kolkata, willing to stop at nothing; willing to keep going till she finds her husband. Her findings are baffling, unexplainable.
In Kolkata, a man named Milan Damji has been dodging the police for two years now –and rather successfully. The entire police force of Kolkata along with the International Bureau has not been able to find Milan; they aren’t even capable of hazarding a guess at his whereabouts. Milan looks extremely like Arnab, and Vidya believes that Arnab may have been mistaken for him; this could have caused Arnab to get into some serious trouble. Though Vidya is unaware of the entire story behind Milan Damji and why he is a keen topic of interest for the Indian Police, she suspects, that finding Milan will lead to her husband. This is just the beginning of Kahaani.
Vidya battles through the festive Kolkata, being pushed around in crowds, pale and exhausted with this missing man’s child. The plot continues to unfold, never losing its entrancing nature; and right at the end, Ghosh exposes a surprising twist; one that puts the whole movie into a different perspective.