Welcome back Vidya Balan!
Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani 2 has hit the screens today. Featuring Vidya in the lead, it also has Arjun Rampal playing the character of cop Inderjeet Singh. However, the film seems to be riding solely on Vidya’s shoulders. She is performing two characters — Vidya Sinha and Durga Rani Singh in the film. And both of her characters, in every way, signify the shades of independent strong women.
In my interview with her for the film, Vidya had made a statement. She said she is not the flag bearer of women empowerment and doesn’t like to be perceived as one too. However, she tries that the roles she chooses to portray on screen convey some sort of strength to her audience.
I don’t think I am carrying the flag of women empowerment. I am telling a story through my characters. I veer towards characters which are slightly weak or vulnerable in the beginning but find their voices in the end, she said.
She also mentioned that she doesn’t like her characters to be preachy but feels good if audience takes some thoughts away from them. And here she is, steering clear away from all the gyan in Kahaani 2 yet showing how easy it is to fall to stand again in life.
How does Vidya Balan empower you through Kahaani 2?
Vidya’s Durga in the film is a single working mother. The one who is ready to fight all odds to save her child including her own deteriorating health. Her character in the film is optimistic about life. Both Vidya Sinha and Durga Rani Singh are all up for taking chances and trying to fail in life. None of these characters, even for once, portray that they ‘need’ a man’s support to do well in life. Even when she decides to hook up with a man, she does so on her own conditions. She does so when she wants to do so. She allows a man to come close to her only after making up her mind that she wants to remain happy in his company and wants him to change her for better.
Durga had a troubled childhood. She takes up a stance to not let anyone else go through the same bothered phase she had gone through in her childhood. And she goes to extremes to do every bit to ensure that. She fights the system. Nothing but her own sense of morality defines good or bad in her life. She doesn’t want to gain back her ex-husband. There’s this sense of clarity in her mind that she evokes in audience. What does it mean to move on in life after a broken relationship? What if life makes you bump into your ex some day just like that? Vidya, in Kahaani 2, tells you that you have not moved on in life if you have stopped taking your ex’s calls or have blocked all the connections with him/ her. But moving on is when even spending the entire day or talking for hours with that person doesn’t give you the same feelings the way it used to.
But do these qualities add to the narrative of Kahaani 2?
Vidya walked on the same tangent of being a damsel in distress in Kahaani as well. She played the pregnant woman in search of her missing husband in Kolkata. Then, it was a wife who takes advantages of being a woman in the film. Now, it’s a mother who fights against the odds of being a woman. What turns problematic though is that while the mystery and sympathy joined hands in Kahaani, they are walking separate paths in Kahaani 2. The film seems to be broken in two parts. One which is being driven by a strong performer like Vidya Balan. And the other one which is too much interconnected in its own complexities of confusion, mystery, and suspense.
The scenes which leave an impact are where Vidya shows the edge of emotions in a mother-daughter relationship. Like the one when she gets a call from her daughter’s doctor and tears start rolling down her eyes. No dialogue could have justified the emotions that Vidya portrayed through her expressions in the scene. But the parallel storyline where she has been accused of murder and kidnapping lacks connect. Maybe because while it promises a lot of thrills, it gets reserved in its predictability. And Vidya’s good performance makes it more difficult to ignore this predictability.
Director Sujoy Ghosh called Kahaani 2 her “favourite daughter” in my interview. But the treatment that he has given to this daughter doesn’t seem favouring her. Kahaani 2 deals with a very crucial social issue but the overarching of drama and forced suspense in the story doesn’t let it emerge fully. Kahaani still stands as the benchmark of his own creative offering.