I liked Kahaani. The story was nice, the script was crisp, and
However, seldom have everything - the performances, the story, the script and the entire execution - taken a backseat. They had to. With Kolkata as one of the competitors, the contest was a no-brainer from the very first scene.
Kahaani is about Kolkata. More importantly, it's about Kolkata the way I have known it to be. No false overglamorous depiction of my city, no. For example, a significant part of the story revolves around - not The Oberoi Grand - not even Hotel Rutt-Deen, but Monalisa Guest House.
M o n a l i s a G u e s t H o u s e.
Did the director actually know about a kid in shorts, cuddled up in a window seat on a 221 or a 47A or a Golf Green-BBD Bag, looking out of the window to catch a glimpse the ubiquitous guest house every time he passed it?
"Ma, what is a guest house?"
"When people come from outside Kolkata and they don't know anyone to stay with, they stay in hotels and guest houses."
And then, Maharani. Possibly the most popular food joint in 700029, the pin code I associate the best years of my life with. One of those places whose food you can actually taste if you concentrate for a while, even if you're maybe a thousand miles away.
And then, Mocambo. Not Peter Cat. Not Bar-B-Q. Not even Olypub. But Mocambo. My Mocambo. The best Park Street restaurant that ever was. Of Mulligatawny soups and Chateaubriand steaks; of hideous red sofas in a 3-1 layout and a bizarrely ancient decor; of memories worth, well, no idea.
This is my Kolkata. Not the Kolkata usually depicted in movies - of lofty skyscrapers, suave workplaces and expensive hotels; or of the most dizzying depths of misery and poverty, aimed at portraying a disturbing image of my city to the world.
This is Kolkata as seen by Kolkatans. The average, middle-class, graduate Kolkatan. One that rides metro rails or the occasional taxi; one that goes to the Pujo at Triangular Park, one of the middle-level pujos in the vicinity of the giants like Ekdalia Evergreen and Maddox Square; one that takes the tram as a mode of transport and still manages to seek pleasure in gazing out of the window; one who braves the Lansdowne Road traffic in public transport; one whose mother stays up for him and makes anxious calls whenever he is late from work; one who probably earns less than his counterparts in the more glamorous cities, but has still stayed back - not because of lack of opportunities, but because the city is the world to him.
Sujoy Ghosh knows Kolkata inside out. He doesn't fake it. He really does know the city. Well enough to make a Kolkatan desperate to churn out his insides and maybe let go the loudest of yells.
Thanks mate.Thanks for re-creating my childhood, adolescence and twenties on screen.