If director Sujoy Ghosh is to be believed, Vidya Balan is poised for another incredible performance in 'Kahaani', a thriller with a slim star cast in which she fetches up as a seven-month-old pregnant lady in ruthless pursuit of her missing husband.
Since Vidya was involved on this project from day one, she brought her girlhood fascination of playing a pregnant woman into this role. Other than that, of course, she observed the way pregnant women walk, panting and sweating and their other mannerisms.
“That’s the good thing about performers like Vidya,” says Ghosh, “That when you give them something, they take it with them and bring something of their own. For me, having Vidya was a boon because she did so many things herself. What she has brought to her character is everything her own. She’s a really chilled out actress any director can ask for.”
The idea for a film like 'Kahaani' had been brewing in Ghosh’s mind for a considerable while now and his three-year absence from the scene explains his preoccupation with it. “As long as I can remember, I have been wanting to make a film on a pregnant woman left alone in an alien environment, where she doesn’t know anyone and she is not familiar with the language either. What will she do? How will she survive?”
It was these questions that gave birth to 'Kahaani'. For a story like this, Ghosh says, it was imperative that the protagonist be pregnant, as it is in such circumstances that a woman is at her most vulnerable. “Pregnancy is a time when a woman is about to enter a new phase of her life. The fact that she is pregnant adds depth and credibility to her story and makes the audience respond to her problems,” explains Ghosh.
Much of 'Kahaani' was shot in Kolkata, a city in which Ghosh was born; and having lived there for 15 years, the director was inclined to return to the place of his birth some day. “This was a perfect opportunity to reconnect my ties with the city,” he says. It was Bengali star Prosenjit Chatterjee who prompted Ghosh to shoot the film in Kolkata, but the real reason that he choose Kolkata over Delhi, Mumbai or any other city is its mix of modernity and old world charm.
“Vidya comes from London and just imagine how it would look if we had taken her from one megacity to put her in another?” questions Ghosh.
Kolkata has a rooted appeal, he says. “In Kolkata, you have the best of both worlds. You see people travelling in metro on one hand and in hand-pulled rickshaws on another.”
Shooting in a busy city like Kolkata wasn’t without its share of trouble. “We were shooting live during Durga Puja and the challenge was to do so without interrupting people. One thing wrong and people would have thrashed us,” he laughs.
'Kahaani' is an important, make-or-break film for Ghosh. His last two efforts, 'Aladin' and 'Home Delivery' could not live up to the expectations but that’s not how Ghosh perceives “this business of hits and flops”. He says the best way to deal with criticism is to move on. “You cannot cling on to the past and depress yourself. There is so much more to do than think about what went wrong with your last film.”