Converting a play into a film is a tough job and it's even tougher when the play is a classic like Purshottam Darvhekar's 'Katyar Kaljat Ghusli'. 'Katyar...' is considered to be a milestone in Marathi theatre and even when it was revived by Subodh Bhave in the recent past, the play drew audiences in large numbers. As a play, it excels in everything; portrayals, story and yes, the music. As a film, it is equally stunning if not more.
Bhave's debut directorial is nothing but a masterstroke. When it comes to classics, there's always the fear of tampering with the original but that is out of question here. It has great actors delivering memorable performances, opulent art and costumes and of course, mesmerising music. But let's reserve the best for later.
The 'katyar' in question here is a dagger that the King of Vishrampur gets made as an award to be given to the winner of a music competition; a competition between two revered classical singers Pandit Bhanushankar Shastri (Shankar Mahadevan) and Khan Sahab Aftab Hussain Bareliwale (Sachin Pilgaonkar). While Panditji is a simple man whose love for music reflects in his audience's appreciation, Khan Sahab is someone who's seen failure throughout his life. These failures result in Khan Sahab turning into an arrogant, egomaniac man who wants nothing but his stamp of supremacy on music, by hook or by crook. In his quest for supremacy, Khan Sahab loses his friend Panditji and many more things that even his Royal Singer title, a huge mansion and riches cannot bring back.
The original play had Pt Jitendra Abhisheki and Vasantrao Deshpande, two stalwarts, playing Panditji and Khan Sahab. The film has two other stalwarts, Shankar Mahadevan and Sachin Pilgaonkar. Their portrayals are so beautiful that you truly feel for Panditji and despise Khan Sahab. Shankar Mahadevan underplays the role so well that one wouldn't believe it to be his acting debut. Sachin gives the performance of a lifetime, getting all the nuances of his character right. A strong supporting cast including Amruta Khanvilkar as Zareena, Mrunmayee Deshpande as Uma, Subodh Bhave as Sadashiv, Pushkar Shrotri as Kaviraj and Sakshi Tanwar as Nabila, performs equally well.
Now, the music. If Rahul Deshpande, Shankar Mahadevan and Mahesh Kale's renditions of classics like 'Ghei Chhanda Makranda', 'Soorat Piya Ki' and 'Dil Ki Tapish' don't bring a tear or two to your eyes, you are not listening carefully. Even if you dissect the songs and listen to them a hundred times, finding a flaw in them would be impossible. In some films content is king, in others the stars are but Katyar... falls in a different league altogether. Here, music is the king and mesmerising and hypnotic are the only words that describe the melody of it.
'Katyar...' is a jugalbandi of melody, a story of arrogance versus innocence, an encyclopedia of natural acting and most of all, a musical masterpiece that should not be missed.
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A line from the film, 'Art is something that comes out of your soul and it requires you to put both, your heart and brain, into it', sums up the masterpiece. It's a line that Subodh and his team have stuck to throughout.
Katyar Kaljat Ghusli is a rich treasure of music and a seamlessly woven story of generosity, deceit and realisation.
PS: Kudos to Shakar-Ehsaan-Loy for a beautiful revival of the classic music.
WATCH: Trailer of 'Katyar Kaljat Ghusli':