Vidya Balan (Durga Rani Singh) fervently chews into Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh and perfectly delivers her most neurotic, intuitive performance to date. She appears shabby and scattered through most of the movie. Yet exudes inner grace and warmth as her protective instincts kick in to play an abuse survivor who must save a child abuse victim Minnie Diwan (Naisha Khanna, effective).
In the process, the actor also manages to save director Sujoy Ghosh’s second Kahaani franchise from turning into just another mundane drama.
That said, it felt like watching two movies in one. Pre-interval, the story and treatment were edge-of-seat realistic. Post-interval, it turned predictably dramatic. Which is such a shame, given the promising build-up of a sensitive subject and traces of the original Kahaani (with its shock beats) in the first half. Then chucking it all away for a vicarious, commercial treatment in the second half – a mighty disappointment. Specially when Vidya stops being action lady and Inderjeet Singh (Arjun Rampal) turns saviour. The boring, long finale though optimistic is nothing to sing about.
Among the positives, the relationship between Durga and Minnie are handled with utmost care and pace. This mostly has to do with the way Vidya has interpreted her part, she is never confident and fully in control and yet there is a determination to rescue the girl from a bad situation. Forced to choose between her future (Tota Roychoudhury) and the girl; she chooses her and we do understand why.
The scene in which Durga draws out abuse information from Minnie, hardly seen in Hindi cinema, is evocative and impactful. So are Durga’s scenes with the abuser as she tries to find clues and confront him.
The supporting cast turns out to be a royal hit and miss. Some are apt and others almost jarring to the tone of the film.
Tunisha Sharma who plays the older version of Minnie is good. Jugal Hansraj, as the abuser, is ably twisted. Talented Tota Roychoudhury needed more screen time. As for Arjun, let’s just say he looks good in his uniform and leave it at that. Kharaj Mukherjee as his boss is a hoot. Manini Chadha, who plays his wife, is refreshing.
The caricatur-ish grandmother and her cruelty seem to have walked straight out of Cinderella. Ditto the super scary inspector as the evil perpetrator, the actor (couldn’t find her name) did a menacingly fine job.
With a premise like sexual abuse, which seems to be Hindi cinema’s new flavour, Sujoy Ghosh does have his heart at the right place. Casting Vidya Balan was obviously the master stroke. If only he hadn’t let the plot fly off the handle, this story would have had a more promising end.
Here are my three reasons on why you should watch it: Vidya Balan, Vidya Balan, Vidya Balan.
cinemaspotter rating: 3 out of 5