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Film review: ‘Kahaani 2’ is an almost-convincing yarn of crime and punishment

Vidya Balan shines in the lead role of a woman accused of murder, while Arjun Rampal provides eye-candy and solid back-up.

A spoiler-free assessment of Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh is that despite a couple of major scripting flaws, the movie is never boring, well acted and consistently stays within thriller territory.

Starring Vidya Balan in dowdy deglam mode and Arjun Rampal as the sexiest police officer in the West Bengal cadre, Kahaani 2 gave away a fair bit of its storyline away in its trailer. So it is perfectly alright to say that the 129-minute movie is about a woman accused of murdering her daughter, and contains hints of violence against children and a cat-and-mouse game between the accused and the police officer.

Kahaani 2 shares with its predecessor half a title, the Bengal location, an enterprising and strong-willed heroine, and the belief that for all their hard work and commitment, the local police force is not very bright when it comes to solving clues and nabbing criminals who are hiding in plain sight. Balan is once again named Vidya, but this time she has another name, Durga Rani Singh, and a past that is revealed through one of the oldest scripting devices around: a diary.

Kahaani lulled us into submission by presenting flashbacks that ultimately turned out to be fake, leaving us in no position to guess the climactic twist. Kahaani 2 has far fewer gimmicks and lower ambitions. It’s a simple and snappily narrated story, smoothly steered by Namrata Rao’s editing and powered by Balan’s winning central performance with efficient backing from Rampal.

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‘Kahaani 2’.

Kahaani 2 is set in a coldly monochrome world leached of colour, joy and security (the cinematography is by Tapan Basu). Vidya lives in Chandannagar on the outskirts of Kolkata with her wheelchair-bound daughter Mini. Vidya’s life turns upside down when Mini goes missing, but even as she rushes towards the source of the mystery, she is incapacitated by an accident.

As Vidya lies in a coma, Inderjit Singh (Rampal) slinks into the frame. Recently transferred to Chandannagar and smarting after being denied a promotion, Inderjit investigates the case, but in the interests of stretching the plot to its denouement, he doesn’t ask the questions that need to be asked.

Inderjit’s reluctance to get to the heart of the matter is unsatisfactorily explained, as is the ease with which Vidya transforms herself into Durga, but Ghosh leaves little time to stand and stare. He expertly races from one scene to the next and smoothly moves between past and present. In his rush to create an effective reason for Vidya’s actions, Ghosh sidesteps a few gaping holes in the screenplay (co-written with Ritesh Shah) and depends on rich atmospherics and technical smarts to buy credibility and the audience’s patience.

The premise succeeds largely because of Balan, who turns in one of her strongest performances in recent years. Hugely believable as both Vidya and Durga, the actress plays doughty and determined as only she can. There isn’t a false note in her portrayal of a strongly maternal woman who makes questionable choices to reach her goals. There are also neat turns from Jugal Hansraj, Amba Sanyal and Kharaj Mukherjee and a winning portrayal of corrupted innocence from the young Mini, played by Naisha Khanna. The movie lacks Kahaani’s balance of thrills and humour, but it has the same spirit of righteous anger and faith in a female actor’s ability to take charge of a situation. Ghosh shopped the script to other actors before going back to Balan, and the movie is the better for it.

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Modern home design trends that are radically changing living spaces in India

From structure to finishes, modern homes embody lifestyle.

Homes in India are evolving to become works of art as home owners look to express their taste and lifestyle through design. It’s no surprise that global home design platform Houzz saw over a million visitors every month from India, even before their services were locally available. Architects and homeowners are spending enormous time and effort over structural elements as well as interior features, to create beautiful and comfortable living spaces.

Here’s a look at the top trends that are altering and enhancing home spaces in India.

Cantilevers. A cantilever is a rigid structural element like a beam or slab that protrudes horizontally out of the main structure of a building. The cantilevered structure almost seems to float on air. While small balconies of such type have existed for eons, construction technology has now enabled large cantilevers, that can even become large rooms. A cantilever allows for glass facades on multiple sides, bringing in more sunlight and garden views. It works wonderfully to enhance spectacular views especially in hill or seaside homes. The space below the cantilever can be transformed to a semi-covered garden, porch or a sit-out deck. Cantilevers also help conserve ground space, for lawns or backyards, while enabling more built-up area. Cantilevers need to be designed and constructed carefully else the structure could be unstable and lead to floor vibrations.

Butterfly roofs. Roofs don’t need to be flat - in fact roof design can completely alter the size and feel of the space inside. A butterfly roof is a dramatic roof arrangement shaped, as the name suggests, like a butterfly. It is an inverted version of the typical sloping roof - two roof surfaces slope downwards from opposing edges to join around the middle in the shape of a mild V. This creates more height inside the house and allows for high windows which let in more light. On the inside, the sloping ceiling can be covered in wood, aluminium or metal to make it look stylish. The butterfly roof is less common and is sure to add uniqueness to your home. Leading Indian architecture firms, Sameep Padora’s sP+a and Khosla Associates, have used this style to craft some stunning homes and commercial projects. The Butterfly roof was first used by Le Corbusier, the Swiss-French architect who later designed the city of Chandigarh, in his design of the Maison Errazuriz, a vacation house in Chile in 1930.

Butterfly roof and cantilever (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)
Butterfly roof and cantilever (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)

Skylights. Designing a home to allow natural light in is always preferred. However, spaces, surrounding environment and privacy issues don’t always allow for large enough windows. Skylights are essentially windows in the roof, though they can take a variety of forms. A well-positioned skylight can fill a room with natural light and make a huge difference to small rooms as well as large living areas. However, skylights must be intelligently designed to suit the climate and the room. Skylights facing north, if on a sloping roof, will bring in soft light, while a skylight on a flat roof will bring in sharp glare in the afternoons. In the Indian climate, a skylight will definitely reduce the need for artificial lighting but could also increase the need for air-conditioning during the warm months. Apart from this cleaning a skylight requires some effort. Nevertheless, a skylight is a very stylish addition to a home, and one that has huge practical value.

Staircases. Staircases are no longer just functional. In modern houses, staircases are being designed as aesthetic elements in themselves, sometimes even taking the centre-stage. While the form and material depend significantly on practical considerations, there are several trendy options. Floating staircases are hugely popular in modern, minimalist homes and add lightness to a normally heavy structure. Materials like glass, wood, metal and even coloured acrylic are being used in staircases. Additionally, spaces under staircases are being creatively used for storage or home accents.

Floating staircase (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)
Floating staircase (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)

Exposed Brick Walls. Brickwork is traditionally covered with plaster and painted. However, ‘exposed’ bricks, that is un-plastered masonry, is becoming popular in homes, restaurants and cafes. It adds a rustic and earthy feel. Exposed brick surfaces can be used in home interiors, on select walls or throughout, as well as exteriors. Exposed bricks need to be treated to be moisture proof. They are also prone to gathering dust and mould, making regular cleaning a must.

Cement work. Don’t underestimate cement and concrete when it comes to design potential. Exposed concrete interiors, like exposed brick, are becoming very popular. The design philosophy is ‘Less is more’ - the structure is simplistic and pops of colour are added through furniture and soft furnishings.

Exposed concrete wall (Image Credit: Getty Images)
Exposed concrete wall (Image Credit: Getty Images)

When building your home, it is important to use strong and durable materials. A value-added premium product with high compressive strength, Birla Gold cement is used to make tough, impermeable concrete that sets quickly, lasts long and minimises cracking. Its durability will ensure that your dream home always looks new and the steel structure inside remains protected. Birla Gold offers variants that are optimised for different needs. The unique hydraulic binding properties of the Birla Gold Premium cement variant prevent seepage, making it resistant to even corrosive water, especially important for houses in coastal cities. The Birla Gold Royal cement variant provides very high strength and is perfect for the foundation. As the video below says, with the different varieties of cement that Birla Gold offers, you can build the home of your dreams.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Birla Gold Premium Cement and not by the Scroll editorial team.