Katyar Kaljat Ghusli is the movie you need to watch to get a taste, a flavour, an initiation into the richness of Marathi Theater. This movie, rich in music, that it inherited from the 40 year old play, complimented by some brilliant acting, dialogues and direction is an absolute treat to watch.
Back in early 90s, my father had bought a cassette which had compilation of Pandit Vasantrao Deshpande's songs who had played Khan Saaheb's role in the original play. I loved the songs but then I had only heard Khan Saaheb's versions but that ensured I headed to the cinema hall to see this movie.
It ensures the dagger of music is drawn deep into your mind. What a terrific movie this is that I am fumbling for words in this post. The music is still playing in my head.
It starts with this brilliant Ganpati bhakti geet, "Sur Niragas Ho" by Shankar Mahadevan.
The movie tells a tale of 2 maestros competing for the position of the Kingdom's top singer and the King's Dagger. Both are almost equal but there is only one winner. The competition turns sour with rising ambition of one of them and then the drama unfolds.
The story is set in the 19th century in the pre-Independence era. The King, Queen and the Darbaar are excellent with the debates, the discussions and a prevalent sense of upholding justice. The acting is of the highest caliber here.
In this star-studded affair, Sachin Pilgaonkar stands out as Khan Saaheb - a fantastic singer who deserves accolades for his singing but a vain and arrogant man. His performance is something I have never seen before from any actor. He deserves every award that can be given for acting. And don't dilute it by categorizing acting - hero, support, villain... - his performance is the best performance that can be!
Shankar Mahadevan as Panditji is stellar and so is the director-actor Subodh Bhave as Sadashiv.
I have special praise for the supporting cast - Amruta Khanvilkar as Zareena, Mrunmayi Deshpande as Uma, Pushkar Shrotri as Kaviraj, Sakshi Tanwar as Khansaaheb's wife and the King and the Queen.
Subodh Bhave, the director-actor of this movie, makes me immensely proud. He has been a key contributor to the decade old rise of the Marathi art - cinema, theater or TV. I look up to him for more such artistic creations. I am sure he and his team will not disappoint us.
Before you leave this page.... don't miss to hear these 2 versions of the immortal song "Ghei Chhand Makarand." As a child I had only heard Khan Saaheb's version. For the first time in the movie did I hear Panditji's version (which is the first in this youtube video). As the song completes, I had goosebumps, a tear in my eye and my throat choked. Such is the power of great singing. And great singing is all that this movie is about.
I urge you to go to the nearest cinema hall to enjoy the movie in its fullest.