Subodh Bhave taking over the directorial reins of Katyar Kaljat Ghusli made sense. The Marathi play, earlier conceived by Purshottam Darvhekar during the ’60s, has been termed a classic and drove in a housefull audience that time. It had the stalwarts singer Vasantrao Deshpande playing one prominent role and Pt Jitendra Abhisheki playing the other. Years later, Subodh re-established the drama which experienced a similar footfall, and the film format makes it reach a wider audience. And there’s always a chance that the film may degrade the charm and class of the original play, but KKG the film breathes the very soul of the play and portrays it beautifully. For the love of music, or rather for any form of art, this wonder of a film deserves a see.
The film’s title literally translates to Dagger Through The Heart, where the dagger in question is an award that King of Vishrampur wishes to bestow upon the winner of a musical contest, participants of which are two celebrated classical singers Pandit Bhanushankar Shastri (Shankar Mahadevan) and Khan Sahab Aftab Hussain Bareliwale (Sachin Pilgaonkar). While the former is a simpleton who sings straight from the heart and has enormous love for the music, the latter has seen enough failures in life and in an attempt to grow out of it, he makes his mission to succeed by any which means. Do these means ensure his success? If they do, then at what cost?
The film, set in the pre-independence period and accordingly styled, carries the weight and nostalgia of the play. The songs are superb and flow smoothly in according with the story, and first-time director (seriously!?) Subodh Bhave has lent his own vision to the story, making it much more appealing to the movie audience. Prakash Kapadia’s screenplay ensures that the play to film transition takes place smoothly.
Shankar Mahadevan couldn’t have expected a better acting debut. He approaches his role with utmost subtlety and delivers a memorable performance. For Sachin Pilgaonkar, this could be his best performance ever. At least for the rest of us it was. He is one actor who’s known to overdramatize, but here he too has underplayed his role. Subodh Bhave as Panditji’s student was good. Supporting actors Amruta Khanvilkar, Mrunmayee Deshpande and Sakshi Tanwar were excellent. Note that this was Sakshi’s debut Marathi film, and she handled it very well.
The music is the soul of the film. The new presentations of the classics like Soorat Piya Ki and Dil Ki Tapish are sure to wet your eyes. Such wonderful renditions all the songs are. Shankar Ehsaan Loy have done a great job with the music.
This is a film that really practices what it preaches – something that’s derived from the soul, and moulded to perfection by the heart and mind. Brilliant effort by Subodh Bhave and his super-talented team. Watch it to catch a message that’s relevant even in present times, and if you do, the dagger would have hit its mark.