Sujoy Ghosh's Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh swiftly camouflages into a murky thriller when its protagonist,Vidya Sinha(played by Vidya Balan),an inhabitant of Chandan Nagar in West Bengal and working in a low-key government office,gets an abrupt phone call from the abductor soon after her daughter is kidnapped.She meets with an accident while on her hurried pursuit and slips into coma.When the hit-n-run case gets into investigation by the newly transferred sub- inspector,Inderjit Sinha(Arjun Rampal),he chances upon a diary which forms the voice of the narration
revealing some scathing secrets and thorny past.We are told she is a wanted criminal, accused of murder and kidnapping. Ghosh, this time, gives a textured feel to the small town and Balan fits into the milieu effortlessly.The first half is solid ,instantly gripping and exquisitely intriguing.It unravels through flashbacks like an unsolved puzzle.Dealing with a sensitive subject here,he and co- writer Suresh Nair pump in sufficient mystery and creepiness with its characters - 'The Dewans' comprising of the finicky grandmother(Amba Sanyal),the uncle(Jugal Hansraj) and the kid, Minni.Alternating between Chandan Nagar, a hill station-like place called Kalimpong and Kolkata, the moderately-paced narrative hinges itself on the conveniently written diary , with Tapan Basu's nuanced cinematography revealing a sense of moody atmospherics and Darshan Jalan's costumes staying faithful to the characters.
Post intermission, the film collapses like a house of words,after getting into a loop of predictability and plot contrivances.The biggest flaw with Kahaani 2 is that it doesn't develop a sense of urgency, and when you are waiting for a jolting climax, it just shies away from it so disappointingly.The motivations of the villains are treated quite flimsily and the relationship between the cop and the wanted criminal is never explored.
But even when the film stumbles, its leading lady provides the buoyancy,Vidya Balan stays firmly committed and sinks her teeth into to her character and powers this inconsistent film with her gritty portrayal.She evokes an authentic feeling by embracing a de-glam look.Vulnerable, hysterical and yet with a streak of defiance, she is most of the meat on this skeleton. Arjun Rampal, who delivered a meaty performance three weeks back in Rock On-2, brings in a lot of calibration on board and assimilates the part of the laconic cop well,displaying sharp wits when required.You wouldn't chuckle but find the conversations between Rampal and his ignoramus senior cop Haldar( played by Kharaj Mukherjee) quite interesting. Mukherjee is impressive, exuding the vibes of the quintessential Bengali who is impulsively bossy.
I left the theater mourning that it could have been a much better film.Even the femme fatale who shows up in a couple of scenes doesn't equate to the chilling assassin,Bob Biswas from the prequel. Yet it would be heartening to see Kahaani take the shape of a franchise.