The one thing I admired most about Kahani 2 was that writer-director Sujoy Ghosh not once tries to recreate or tinker around with plot points or characters from his previous film Kahani, instead urging the audience to judge his new film for its own merits. And that is only fair because the milieu, story, actors are all entirely different and there is literally no common thread running between the two films (Except Kolkata, of course, which is more or less treated like a character in both films).
Having said that, Ghosh wastes no time in introducing his characters or spoon-feeding us with their backstories and instead delves straight into the plot, giving us a taut first-half replete with edge-of-the-seat moments thanks to the non-linear screenplay. It is a pity, then, that his story runs out of steam too soon and the film begins to fall apart like a house of cards. The story starts to feel familiar and twists can be spotted from a mile away. Also, unlike Kahani, which had a solid gut-punching revelation in the climax, Kahani 2 feels unsatisfying and underwhelming. The only positive takeaway from here on is that the makers keep the proceedings moving at a breakneck pace, which leaves you with precious little time to carp at the film's faults.
Of the performances, Jugal Hansraj is surprisingly effective and menacing while Arjun Rampal, although saddled with a weakly written role, does a good job as the officer who makes it his business to unravel the truth. The film, in the end, belongs to Vidya Balan. Completely submitting herself to the role of Durga Rani Singh, Vidya Balan shines in every frame and it's hard to find fault with her unwavering and committed performance.
I'm going with 3/5 for Kahani 2. It doesn't quite live up to the standards set by Kahani, but definitely deserves a watch for the gifted Vidya Balan, who gives us yet another reason to believe she's possibly the finest actress in the industry.