Kaahani 2 is a thriller-drama with a strong message, and a story that is in no way connected to Kahaani. Starring Vidya Balan as Vidya Sinha / Durga Rani Singh - a mother in search of her kidnapped daughter Mini / a wanted fugitive, this 'who'dunnit decides to go the 'why' way by focusing on motives and identities (most of them at least), early on, and in detail.
Like its predecessor, here too the places - Chandannagar, Kalimpong, and Kolkata, end up having identities of their own and almost seem like protagonists in their own right, thanks to sound designer Anirban Sengupta and cinematographer Tapan Basu, who are superb when in comes to turning places cold, menacing, maddening, and authentic, all at the same time, and in succession. Clinton Cerejo's background score is dauntless in its effectiveness and acts as a catalyst to the duo's efforts.
This isn't a story where one gets to predict or ponder, because for a large part of the film we know who the antagonists are, and what drives them. This thus stops one from experiencing the thrill of guessing and / or deducing, and instead makes us take sides and hope for an ending that justifies that action. Hence, even though it is predictable to an extent, it is also real and grounded at all times, largely due to some excellent production design by Subrata Barik and Kaushik Das.
Yet, it is the relentless journey that glues the various elements of the story by Sujoy Ghosh and Suresh Nair together. Because, even though we know that not everything is what it seems, we are also inwardly hoping for things to go the way we expect them to.
Ignoring the convenient consequences of characters interrelated in this slice of 'scary' life tale, it is safe to say that the motives of each and every character, including the minor ones, are superbly drawn out. In the process we see actors once again become characters, who are restrained as well as resplendent.
The directorial prowess of Sujoy Ghosh is displayed effectively yet again, while an effortless Vidya Balan proves why she will continue to remain an actor to watch out for, always.
Jugal Hansraj (uncle), Tota Roy Chaudhury (lover), Amba Sanyal (grandmother) and Kharaj Mukherjee (inspector) shine in not so large but highly effective / important roles. Arjun Rampal manages to be easy on the eye and under control as far as his acting is concerned, thanks to a screenplay that ensures he is one of the most balanced characters. The child actresses playing 'Minu' are both equally effective, with the younger Naisha Khanna having a slight edge over Tunisha Sharma.
Overall, this '2' is a good 'Kaahani' and a great film that falls somewhat short of its predecessor, despite a brilliant first half, because it decides to both show as well as tell, leading to a somewhat underwhelming climax. Yet, it does enough to be guaranteed a place on any worthwhile list about the best Hindi films of 2016, and is undoubtedly, a must watch. Go for it!