by Swatee Jog
Normally, cinema makers struggle to dramatize every scene to keep the audience hooked. Subodh Bhave has had to do the opposite in his epoch piece ‘Katyar Kaljat Ghusli’, a masterpiece in its own right by Purushottam Darvhekar with original spellbinding music by Pt. Jitendra Abhisheki and recreated by Shankar Ehasaan Loy. Bhave has had to keep his cool in bringing a compact script of a play into the more fluid cinematic medium and what an effort he has done. The tale of two towering singers, Pt. Bhanu Shankar Shastri and Aftab Husain Bareliwale aka Khan Saheb is a timeless story of competition, mean mindedness, large heartedness and a gamut of human emotions, all strewn with the common and heavenly thread of music. A good 3 hours and you’ll never feel a moment bored. Bhave’s understanding of the two mediums of Drama and Cinema has come into full use in this musical. Sur Niragas ho had already made impressive inroads into people’s hearts during the Ganesh Chaturthi season. What you get in the cinema hall is a heart filling dose of pure unadulterated soulful music.
Pt. Bhanu Shankar, the Royal Singer in the court of the king of Vishrampur, has won over the people with his mellifluous songs and humble nature. Enter Aftab Husain, a singer of the rival Gharana, whose wife pesters him to earn more since she is burdened with feeding a brood of disciples with little resources. Husain has been invited to Vishrampur by Panditji himself. He challenges Panditji in the royal court for the title and a dagger that comes with the rider of one pardoned murder for the winner of the singing competition. What begins is a string of melodies, notable being the slow rendition of Ghei Chhand Makarand recreated by Shankar Mahadevan as an answer to the more paced Dil ki tapish of the opponent Khan Saheb. 14 years of defeat at the hands of Panditji makes Khan bitter. His wife fuels his ego and what unfolds is a tale of betrayal and helplessness. Here enters Bhave himself as Panditji’s disciple Sadashiv. Bhave has done complete justice to his role as the disciple who struggles to avenge his Guru’s loss.
Bhave has won half the battle of his first cinematic debut with the casting. Sachin Pilgaokar as Khan Saheb with not one word in Marathi and his superb rendition of not only Urdu, but also the Raagdaari that is so much an inseparable part of such films, is a pleasure to watch. After decades of roles that now appear bland, this is a role that the singer in Sachin Pilgaokar has relished and lived to the full. Shankar Mahadevan as Panditji may have seemed a coop of sorts for Bhave but he fits the bill to the T. And Subodh Bhave, with a keen eye for emotions, drama and music has portrayed Sadashiv with the angst required of his role. It’s a pleasure to watch his neck muscles strain as he renders his raagas, not one of them erring in the lip sync. Mahesh Kale, who played the role of Sadashiv in the recent years of the drama, seems like a new found gem. Mahadevan’s soulful rendition, Rahul Deshpande, Arijit Singh and Shounak Abhisheki’s songs have lifted the film to new heights in Marathi Cinema.
Zee Studio’s first venture (under the new banner) has superb production values. However, at times, one just feels it would have had the time to develop some characters, a luxury only feature films can afford. Sticking to the script has also rendered the film a Play-like feel. Mrunmayee Deshpande as Panditji’s righteous daughter and Amruta Khanwilkar as Khan Saheb’s daughter who does not hesitate to confront her father about his betrayal, are perfect fits too.
Music soothes the mind, and more so when it comes from people who spend their lives mastering it. Abhisheki Buwa was one such person whose music remains timeless. Shankar Ehasaan Loy have mastered the art of spellbinding use of the percussions and their use of chorus is unparalleled. The sound system at Globe theatre leaves much to expect, but the crowds on the opening day (12th Nov) pretty much signaled tough competition for the other two releases- Mumbai-Pune-Mumbai and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. Belgaum’s connoisseurs have always patronized art and this one is no exception. Do watch it, for the songs, for the impeccable acting and for the old world charm; if possible more than once.
In Belagavi the movie is showing at Globe at 11.45 AM and Inox 12.05 PM and 6 PM (Screen 3 We guess).