Kahaani is a 2012 thriller from director Sujoy Ghosh.  It was released in theatres on 9 March, and I watched it the next day.

If you are going to watch this movie, it’s better to go in knowing as little as possible about the story.  Therefore, in my review I’m not going to reveal much more about the plot than what you can already gather from the movie’s trailer.

The movie opens with Vidya Bagchi (Vidya Balan), a pregnant woman, arriving in Kolkata during the Durga Puja festival.  She has come here from London.  Her taxi driver points out that most people head home, or go to a hotel, on arrival in a city.  No one so far has ever asked him to drive them directly to a police station – which is what Vidya does.

Vidya is searching for her husband, Arnab Bagchi.  Arnab had come to Kolkata from London on official business a few weeks before.  But when all contact is lost with him suddenly, the worried Vidya comes to Kolkata herself to find him.  A young police officer Satyoki a.k.a. Rana (Parambrata Chatterjee) helps her in her search for her husband – but it appears that the two are looking for a ghost – Arnab seems to have vanished off the face of the Earth.  Just what is going on?

The movie sets up an intriguing mystery and doesn’t let go till the very end, constantly introducing plot turns and keeping the viewer engrossed.  The execution is excellent – Vidya Balan carries the film brilliantly and her character is one of the most interesting protagonists I’ve ever seen in a movie.  Think back – how many movies can you name which feature a pregnant woman as the heroine?

Not only her, the acting from the rest of the cast is also good.  The characters are also interesting and the good guys are likeable.  The movie is nicely shot and captures the feel of Kolkata (and of the Durga Puja) well, and when the ending comes and leaves you with your mouth open, you’ll realise that this is a lean and efficient thriller, with no unnecessary scenes.  I really liked that the setting and Vidya Balan’s character were all actually integral to the story and not just gimmicks.

The movie features a nice rendition of the song “Ekla Cholo Re” with vocals by Amitabh Bachchan.

When I saw the trailer, I was reminded of Anurag Kashyap’s That Girl in Yellow Boots, since that movie also had a woman searching for someone in an alien city.  Both movies seem to have been shot in a handheld, almost vérité style.  But then, having watched the Kahaani, I can safely say that this is a totally different beast.

Overall, a very nicely done movie and a must-watch, in theatre.

Rating: 9/10

Further Notes

  • It’s not too often that you see a Chief Minister thanked in the opening credits of a movie, this one has it.
  • The movie has some relatively realistic depiction of using computers – unlike other movies where one might find some made-up OS, here it’s Windows XP that is shown, and certain other elements that don’t require you to suspend disbelief too far.  Also, realistic use of actual Adobe Photoshop seen!
  • The photography for the publicity campaign is credited to fashion photographer Dabboo Ratnani.
  • As I’d mentioned in my review for Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, the publicity campaign for this movie was handled by the agency Marching Ants.  In this instance too, the art director is Raj Khatri who I am following on Facebook and on deviantART, and it was cool to see his name in Kahaani‘s end credits.  (poster sample)

My first digital artwork – a drawing of Vidya Balan from this movie

When I installed Ubuntu (as I mentioned in an earlier post) on my computer, I noticed that the System Settings page mentioned configuration options for a Wacom Drawing Tablet.  And I happen to own a Wacom Bamboo Fun graphics tablet, which was a gift that I’d never made use of till now.

So I thought I’d use this as an excuse to draw something based on this movie, and I did.  Below is the result – perhaps not that great but I think it’s decent for a first attempt.

I did this one using the GIMP.  And as is usual for me, I used a screenshot from the trailer as a reference image.  Below is the way that I did it – had the reference screenshot open and then painted with the tablet on a blank file.

It was not that easy to do, I still need to get comfortable with drawing this way.  The GIMP seemed to have limited options for altering the brush sensitivity etc (or maybe I didn’t explore enough).  I will try installing the tablet on Windows and use it in Photoshop next.  Digital art should be something interesting to try out!

Items of Interest – 20-Feb-12 to 26-Feb-12

My brother visited Srisailam last weekend, and on that trip he shot footage using his phone (Android-based LG Optimus Black).  He’s edited that into a nice video, which you can see here –

One of the absolute best articles I read this week was a feature on the opening sequence of David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, at the website Art of the Title (this is a site that features articles about title sequences from movies).

The title sequence for the movie was created by a firm called Blur Studio.  The article (written by Lola Landekic) is a very detailed and insightful one, and has interviews with Tim Miller (from Blur), David Fincher and Neil Kellerhouse (who did the publicity designs for the movie).

During David’s visits to the studio we would brace for impact, because he has a reputation for being incredibly picky. The first time I met him, I asked one of his friends, ‘How picky is David?’ And he said, ‘You’ve heard of pixel fuckers? Well David breaks each pixel down to its separate RGB components and fucks them one at a time.’ So there was some fear every time we would send something in, but 99% of the time we were just told to keep going.

This is the article: http://www.artofthetitle.com/2012/02/21/the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo/ – highly, highly recommended reading.

Another insightful article / set of videos I saw this week was the Fstoppers 2011 BTS Contest Winners.  Fstoppers is a site featuring behind-the-scenes videos and photography articles.  That article features the best videos submitted to their site in 2011, as assessed by a panel of celebrity photo / videographers as judges.  Watch all the videos in the post – very nice stuff.

I’ve been promising an article on Pecha Kucha Nights Hyderabad for a while now, but have not got around to writing it yet.  Will do it soon and post it.  In the mean time, they have announced that Pecha Kucha Night Hyderabad Vol 8 will be on March 31, 2012.  You can ‘Like’ their Facebook page to be kept updated.

It has been a few years since I last used any distribution of Linux.  Today, I installed Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot” on my computer, so that I could use the video editor Kdenlive.

I’ve had my HD Video-capable DSLR, the Canon EOS 550D for almost a year now, but I’ve not done anything significant with video so far.  The reason being, Windows Movie Maker (which I use for editing video) doesn’t handle the 1080p clips generated by the camera well at all.  Adobe Premiere Elements, which I have on my laptop, also doesn’t handle those clips.  A full (and legal) version of Adobe Premiere Pro costs a lot of money.

So I was looking for a free / open source alternative and Kdenlive fit the bill.  Since that runs on Linux, I had to get a Linux distribution running on my computer.  I chose to install Ubuntu through Wubi so that I could have it done within Windows, and wouldn’t have to mess around with partitioning.

I had to go through some hoops for getting it to work properly though.  If you install Kdenlive through the Ubuntu Software Center, it doesn’t work directly, and indicates that there’s a problem with the MLT framework (MLT SDL module not installled or something like that).

It turns out that one has to get the latest version of Kdenlive + dependent packages for this to work, and for that, the following commands must be entered in the terminal –

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:sunab/kdenlive-svn
sudo apt-get update

If you install Kdenlive after doing this, you’ll be getting the most up-to-date packages, which should work.  I tried just putting together two random clips and exporting as a H264 file, and it worked properly.

These forum posts/pages contain more info: 1, 2, 3.

Having gotten these things out of the way, here now is the collection of tweets from last week.  I’ve split them up date-wise, for easy reading.

Tweets 26-Feb-12:

  • 11 Weird and Wonderful Facts About the Oscars http://bit.ly/wi6rwg
  • Business Casualty http://bit.ly/wLCFMT
  • Comparing Today’s Computers To 1995’s http://bit.ly/zj7dyi
  • RT @zombeaner @twitchfilm Power Star Pawan Kalyan Is GABBAR SINGH http://t.co/DQKwQs2S
  • Ubuntu looks as good as ever 🙂 It’s been quite a few years since I last used Linux. Hoping that kdenlive will let me edit my DSLR footage..
  • I installed Ubuntu on my laptop (within Windows… thru wubi). Tweeting this from Firefox on Ubuntu. Downloading kdenlive.
  • The Artist – Liked it a lot, beautifully shot and very charming. Music, acting were great (by the dog too!). 8/10
  • RT @Galactica_gk The Woman In Black starring Daniel Radcliffe, starts slowly but builds up to a very awesome ending. A well made scary movie. 9/10

Tweets 25-Feb-12:

  • RT @purisubzi One guy in the bus is complaining to his friend. “Mera ek picture nikaal yaar Facebook se. Mummy dekhlengi toh bura ho jayega. Pleej yaar”
  • The Dictator, Admiral General Aladeen, responds to being banned from the Oscars! http://t.co/MJ6MxAy8
  • First set pictures from JJ Abrams’ Star Trek sequel http://t.co/ElnIil7u
  • Todd Farmer & Patrick Lussier’s Ghost Rider 2 pitch was “too violent?!” http://t.co/4frB1R4i
  • RT @delhibellyfilm Delhi Belly to be screened at Harvard. http://t.co/9JbULOBK
  • #307492 http://t.co/lhhxmCM7
  • RT @pajamajokes We live in a generation where Deleting the History is much more important than creating it.
  • RT @fstoppers Here are the Fstoppers winning videos: http://fstoppers.com/2011results @chasejarvis @vincentlaforet @scottkelby @stacypearsall
  • RT @arorakim Just read that Shiv Khera is scheduled to attend the Delhi book fair. Thought of @AapChutiyeHain.
  • RT @5tu How a classy camera company responds to thoughtful criticism: http://johnbrawley.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/5-things-i-hate-about-you/ (Read the comments) /via @Mitch_Gross @FB_ac
  • RT @designersays If you want to be a stalker, go to someone’s Facebook wall and click Like on one of their status updates from 3 years ago.
  • #NowWatching Ghost in the Shell
  • RT @clientsfh “Complementary colors… they just don’t go well together.” http://t.co/eqVffd3n

Tweets 24-Feb-12:

  • Gandalf teacher’s stamp is the classiest way to fail students and/or Balrogs [Lord Of The Rings] http://t.co/QRnuMnDc
  • I totally tweeted this 1 year ago TH @karthik82 RT @MTVIndia: “Be ca… http://t.co/qgvIvWLr
  • Okay, This New WRATH OF THE TITANS Trailer Is Awesome! http://t.co/SDkwg7wd
  • Hans Zimmer Talks ‘Dark Knight Rises’ Score, Secrecy and More http://t.co/U8eoRarr
  • The Best Holiday Party That Never Was [Photoshop] http://bit.ly/wzrAJY
  • “The Raid” is Rated R for strong, brutal bloody violence throughout, and language! Oh yes!

Tweets 23-Feb-12:

  • Failbook: The Pre-Natal Period http://t.co/Ua7ibBxE
  • (via INCIDENTAL COMICS: Draw Like You’ve Never Been… http://t.co/zBbIG4fY
  • Check out Dolph Lundgren’s action hero name in Battle Of The Damned http://t.co/tmHyqprf
  • RT @newfylover1 @deemj61 @Speedy0103 This too? (_E=3Dmc2_) Smart ass (_$_) Money out the ass (_?_) Dumb ass (_zzz_)Tired Ass (!)Tight Ass (_x_) Kiss my ass
  • RT @funnyoneliners Have you hugged an idiot today? Me either, come here! RT @newfylover1
  • RT @sarahw You know, the mock book cover on the website of JK Rowling’s agent could just stay put through publication. http://t.co/aJrBb5ru
  • RT @HaaaNaaahh RT @Laughbook: “Your phone’s ringing.” “Yeah, phones do that.”
  • RT @purisubzi Already 23rd. Already end of February. Tempus fucking fugit.
  • RT @rajturl utorrent is having a field day. Time rather. Like the millionth update in the last few days!
  • RT @mihirfadnavis Yes, guys, ‘Moneyball’ has been rated ‘A’ by our esteemed censor board. I think it’s only fair if we rate them ‘A’ as well. A for Assholes.
  • RT @ankash1009 Gangs of WasseyPur part 1 releases June 29th
  • Why Boosting Your Camera’s ISO Setting Can Make Your Photos Worse [Video] http://t.co/3XTOLY84
  • Saif Ali Khan’s Second AGENT VINOD Trailer Punches Evil In The Face! http://t.co/0vxk8iwX

Tweets 22-Feb-12:

The music in the trailer for Safe is “The Outsider” by A Perfect Circle.  That song was used earlier in the trailer for Resident Evil: Afterlife, and the movie itself seems very familiar – as I mentioned on Facebook, didn’t we already see this as Mercury Rising?  Also, the other trailer linked to here is that of a Norwegian movie, which I’m interested in seeing just because of the awesome title – Fuck Up.

Tweets 21-Feb-12:

There’s going to be another remake of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher?  I didn’t know that.  There’s a Hindi remake which I’ve seen.

Tweets 20-Feb-12:

  • Top 50 modern day low budget movies http://t.co/fW51ugzW
  • RT @GDBALA This is the binary message we sent out to aliens 38 years ago http://t.co/tvqTeSgj
  • Thanks a lot! RT @kunaldgp Call it altruism. I’m promoting @karthik82 ‘s blog http://t.co/M4vfjZBG
  • Nice!! RT @This_Is_Hari RT @krtgrphr: RT @nayakgirin: One man’s meen is another man’s poisson

Well, I hope you found this stuff interesting.  In the next post I will upload a drawing that I did today (what it is, I am keeping under wraps for now).

Interesting thought: Many of the links posted above are shortened versions of shortened URLs (Inception – shortening within shortening)!  Twitter’s t.co shortener is wrapping bit.ly links in many instances.  If either one of these goes down, it would be unfortunate.