Kahaani: Netflix Instant Indian Awesome

There’s been a film in my Instant Watch queue for quite some time, and Denisa and I finally got around to checking it out last night. It’s Kahaani, and the premise sounds unusual to say the least: an extremely pregnant woman goes to India in search of her husband, who went missing a few weeks before. I love that concept–a typical thriller plot, but with a very atypical thriller protagonist. The main question–the one that kept me from watching it for so long–was would it be able to deliver a full length feature that was compelling, based on that premise alone. Because it would be easy for a movie like that to start strong and then just dwindle away in boredom.

Netflix said I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars, though–in the end, I had to give it a shot, and I’m very glad I did. Netflix was spot on–I give it 8/10.

The plot itself unfolds more or less naturally. There are some spots that are predictable in an “I knew what was going to happen a few seconds before it happened” sort of way–one I don’t mind that much. It’s when I know what the ending is going to be by about the 15 minute mark that things are really egregious, and I’d be surprised if anyone manages to predict where this one goes.

The acting is very well done, and the setting is superb. I love international movies because they let me see how the world is portrayed elsewhere. If you stick to a diet of strictly blockbusters (or even just strictly American cinema), you get a skewed view of things. Sort of like if you just listen to conservatives or liberals to the exclusion of all others. This film takes place entirely in India, and it captures that essence quite well.

I was also fascinated listening to the language, as the characters jump from Hindi to English constantly–often in the middle of sentences. Judging from its IMDB record, it appears there’s some Bengali peppered in there, too. As a former linguistics major, the movie was fun for the languages alone.

And the movie was made for under 2 million dollars, which I just love. Too often these days it seems like film makers assume good cinema needs tens of millions thrown at it, and that’s just not true. Often, special effects are just patches covering over poor storytelling and character development.

If any of you have already seen it, I’d be interested to hear what you thought about the climax, which is certainly one that I could see people liking or disliking. I don’t want to say any more about it than that, but feel free to talk about spoilers in the comments section.

In any case, if you’re looking for a tense thriller that’s pretty darn clean (some violence, but nothing too over the top), and you’ve got Netflix, give this one a shot. I doubt you’ll be sorry you did.

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