Sab Kuch Na Kaho!
It's the story of a coma patient in a small town of Chandan Nagar, whose daughter is missing. But the police think the mother is a dreaded kidnapper and a murderer. The cops run around in circles trying to figure out the truth. But the audience has guessed and even though the pace of the film is good, you wish they had trusted you to understand the kahani without telling all.
Voltaire has said, 'The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.'
Kahaani 2 suffers not just from 'telling everything', but repeating the truth so many times that flickering lightbulbs, stupid cops, scenes set in the dark, dingy hospitals, uncaring nurses, annoying wives and kids just seem to be useless camouflage and lays to waste the superb talent that is Vidya Balan.
Vidya Balan plays a loving mother (Vidya Sinha) to a twelve/thirteen year old Mini who is paralysed from waist below. They live in a small town called Chandan Nagar, and the one day that Vidya leaves the child home alone, the child disappears. A phone call summons her to a location and as she runs out to get there, she is hit by a car, and goes into coma. The police try and figure out who she is, and the police officer looking after the case (Arjun Rampal) is stunned to see that Vidya Sinha is not really who she claims to be. In fact, she is Durga Raani Singh, a kidnapper and murderer.
And you saw all this in the trailer of the film. So what is it that you are looking for in the movie?
While Vidya Balan does her role credit (and she’s one of the finest actors we have), it is the minor characters who do their best and keep the movie going forward. In fact, the pace of the movie is the only thing that saves it from being the disaster it could have been.
The creepy grandmother, who is like the evil, psycho version of Suhasini Mulay is the find of the year, easily. Her character has been written beautifully. Flawless.
The hawaldaar at the police station is very obviously the comic relief guy, but his expressions are brilliant.
The demented homeless person too is someone you have seen (and walked hurriedly past without making eye-contact) and that’s why you nod your head at how he has been used in the film. You recognise the character from many movies (even Pretty Woman has a homeless person walking by, shouting about the importance of being a dreamer in Los Angeles).
The schoolteacher who is fed up of having to drag a six year old to the headmistress’s office because she slept in class…
And this is where you begin to see the flaws in the film. ‘They don’t let me sleep at night’ is such a daft thing to say. It’s like Indian parents telling their daughters to be home before 7pm (because boys turn into monsters) or that girl being out late is a sign of ‘bad character’. The assumption that sexual abuse, rape, doing drugs happens only at night is archaic. And the child sitting outside the headmistress’s office does not look sleepy at all.
That brings us to the subject of abuse. Just as Dear Zindagi is a vanilla treatment of mental illnesses this film too is a mild attempt to talk about pedophilia. And I’m not giving you plot spoilers. You saw this in the trailer. What is admirable in the story is how one victim is able to recognise the signs in another.
But if you’ve seen Steve Buscemi in Con Air, or have watched Rajat Kapoor in Monsoon Wedding will never buy the antagonist in this film who brags about sexually abusing a child. You only have to see TV shows like Law & Order Special Victim’s Unit to realise that no pedophile will brag. In fact, it is the secrecy that keeps the crime from being discovered and it is not until it is too late that anyone. Vidya Balan’s character attempts to say just that, but the antagonist is so open, so threatening in public, that you wish the filmmaker had seen Steve Buscemi sitting down calmly with the little girl at her tea party and singing ‘He’s got the whole world in his hands’. I wish they had gone back to Monsoon Wedding and watched Rajat Kapoor’s body language. He personifies Creepy Uncle.
To add to the peeve, why make ‘I’m going to change her clothes’ or ‘It’s time for lunch’ kind of obvious references? Who says that to an outsider?
And Origami. Why? What Indian filmmakers should realise that there is a reason why anyone would take refuge in Origami let alone a pedophile using paper art to seduce a child. And would a seduced child carry the 'toy' everywhere with her? Wouldn't she crumple it in fear? Bladerunner is a superb example of how Origami is used to say something. Gaff makes Origami unicorns so the audience realises that Deckard's dreams can be monitored and he may be, just maybe a replicant. But here? It just seems like a gimmick, a 'kewl' thing to do.
The constant monologue from Vidya Balan (when Arjun Rampal reads her diary) is very distracting, and very odd Hindi: ‘Mujhe Vishwaas Nahi Hota Ki Maine Usko Aankh Maari’ is very inept translation of, ‘I couldn’t believe I just winked at her!’
If this monologue style is a homage to Mr.Robot, who knows. Is Arjun Rampal falling asleep reading that diary (listening to that stilted monologue) a result?
Unfortunately, you see the end coming a mile away. And you hate the fact that everything is explained to the audience as though we were dumb. The movie should have ended with Arjun Rampal walking out swinging his keys.
Arjun Rampal's wife and kid are so annoying, I would like to suggest an alternative ending. Arjun Rampal's annoying wife and kid get blown up in the explosion and when Vidya Balan and child reach the children's hospital, there's Arjun Rampal, waiting at the door, leaning against a column sexily, with dark glasses, holding a jacket casually over his shoulder. Nice and evil end.
But you come away from the film not hating it entirely, but not in love with it either. And that ‘okayness’ the ‘averageness’ of the film is its true crime.