Even after being born and raised a Marathi Maharashtrian, watching a Marathi Movie in a theatre has been a seldom occurrence to me . I do not hold any kind of special snobbish pride in that fact, it’s just that nothing inspired me enough to take the leap. In fact I don’t even remember the last Marathi movie I saw in a theatre (or even on TV for that matter). But one movie changed it for the good. Katyar Kaljat Ghusali is one movie that I came to know mostly by word of mouth from my family for which the credit goes to their producers who created the appropriate hype around it. So much so that the theatres were running house full till Monday Evenings. Even PRDP didn’t have that kind of pull. It may be because top tier Bollywood singer & member of the Music Composing trio ‘Shankar, Ehsan, Loy’, Shankar Mahadevan made his acting debut in this epic musical (He obviously sang his own songs in it). It may be because it is a directorial debut for acclaimed actor Subodh Bhave who has been bagging hard hitting roles lately. It could even be because they marketed the fact that the movie was so true to its source content and set in an era during the pre independence years, that they made sure the non-Marathi antagonist did not speak a single dialogue in Marathi, or that his wife’s role was played by a Hindi TV actress herself (Sakshi Tanwar). Whatever it may be, KKG delivers on its promise to display an epic poem of a movie about an artist and his biggest enemy – his ego.
Set in the early years of British Raj, Katyar Kaljat Ghusali is based on a musical play of the same name. The story takes place in a fictional land of Vishrampur where the Maharaja rules under the East India Company’s thumb. The king is extremely appreciative of performed arts, especially singing. To encourage more singers to compete and in turn display better quality of music, he arranges for an annual Singing competition to be held in his court on the occasion of Dussera. Pandit Bhanu Shankar Shastri (Mahadevan) who is the Raj Gayak also takes part in the competition, and keeps his royal position and mansion at stake, while the King awards a Katyar (dagger) and pardons one life taken by it as self defence to the winner. Panditji is challenged by Khan Saheb Aftab Hussain Bareliwale (Pilgaonkar), who keeps losing for 14 continuous years. This is where the healthy competition turns into an ego war, and bitters their friendship for the worse. The rest of the story shows their journeys around the result of Khan Saheb’s ego.
The movie has extremely high production value and the impeccable research shows its beautiful colors. The set design, dress design and makeup are a pleasant sight all along. The acting is undoubtedly top notch.
Although, there are three specific sore thumbs that itch the viewer. I felt that Pushkar Shrotri’s extremely pretentious performance as the Royal Poet was the worst. He barely had any screen time, yet for as long as he was on screen, it was unbearable. Same goes for the two fellows playing Khan Saheb’s nephews. The third eyesore may be forgiven as it comes from Shankar Mahadevan himself. It’s his very first acting gig, and that too with a central role. He is able to deliver singular one sided dialogues per scene, and conveys emotions from his eyes real good. But in one particular scene he has to cough blood, and boy does he bomb it. It was so bad that I couldn’t stop laughing in the movie theatre forcing the senior citizens in the next row to turn around and give me a severe hard & insulting look.
In many places, the movie has inconsistent pace and the secrecy of plot could’ve been handled better. You can blame this on the debutant director, yet he excels far and beyond others with similar credentials. But honestly, I can look past that for many reasons stated above.
Overall I’d say you should watch it. I mean, how many Marathi musicals you know of who have 21 songs within 161 minutes of run time. After the successful release week, the producers are now gearing for the US release. So share this review with your Desi American friends and promote the industry. KKG is selected to be screened in International Film Festival of India, Goa & shortlisted for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) Fellini medal. Also, the movie comes with full English subtitles, and almost half of the movie is in Hindi, so ANY Indian, let alone Maharashtrian can watch it regardless of their fluency in Marathi.
BTW, did I mention that the songs are so awesome that some might give you goosebumps?
Here’s the trailer:
NAME: Katyar Kaljat Ghusali
RELEASE DATE: 12 November 2015
ACTORS: Shankar Mahadevan, Sachin Pilgaonkar, Subodh Bhave, Amruta Khanvilkar, Mrunmayee Deshpande & Sakshi Tanwar
DIRECTOR: Subodh Bhave
SCREENPLAY: Prakash Kapadia
MY RATING: ★★★★★ (4.5/5)
Kshitij runs The Patil Post and Zetabyte Solutions Pvt. Ltd. - a web development company focussed on E-Commerce implementations. Loves to eat, sell, write and talk. He is an avid reader, an enthusiastic traveller and trekker at heart.
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