Katyar Kaljat Ghusli
Killer Script

Purushottam Darvekar
Original Writer

Movie Review
Katyar Kaljat Ghusli:Killer Script

Katyar Kaljat Ghusli

Killer Script

Adaptation/Screenplay by Prakash Kapadia 

Spoiler Warning – This is not a regular review but a sort of academic discussion of writing where I am discussing most aspects of the Screenplay including the Plot in details.

Salute to this form of Marathi Cinema, which keeps making its mark periodically through films like Fandry, Court, Valu etc. And the Good News is this gap is narrowing..

The Film is almost bilingual with 25-30% of the conversation in Urdu/Hindi and alongwith a few Hindi songs too. Besides it also has good subtitling. So not being a Marathi, should not stop you from watching this rare and impressive work of art. 

Adapted from 1967 play, KKG has garnered rare appreciation from all kinds of audience.

Coming to the Scriptwriting agenda, I am sharing here certain lessons that as a Writer I've treasured from this film.

Plot – A simple plot with a hint of intense Shakespearean drama where jealousy, betrayal and ambition are key emotions.

Punditji is the Royal Singer in the Palace of Vishrampur. When he meets another talented but destitute singer Aftab Hussain, he invites the latter to Visharampur to try his luck. He also gives him the title ‘Khan Sahab'. Though equally talented, Khan loathes living on the kindness of Punditji. This fire is fanned further by his wife Nabila, who keeps nagging him for his pitiable condition. Khan Sahab ends up challenging Punditji in the Annual Competition for the title of Royal Singer. Though he gives a superb performance, he can't beat Punditji. This happens every year for 13 years, when in the 14th year the tables turn, thanks to the trick played by Nabila. Punditji abstains from replying to the ace performance by Khan Sahab and the position goes to the latter. Why Punditji didn't perform is a bit of a plot twist better to watch.

When it appears that evil has beaten good, Punditji's disciple Sadashiv comes in seeking him but by then Punditji has already left nobody knows where. Still Sadashiv starts learning and practising with the help of Punditji's records and Gramophone. But that is not enough to beat the impeccable Maestro Khan Sahab. Without Guru, there can't be Music. Kala (Talent) needs to be perfected with Vidya (Knowledge) and only Guru can hone it up.

What happens further is interesting again and really Music to the ears all the way.

There is a bit of Macbeth reminder when you see the ambitions clashing, and Nabila like Lady Macbeth fuelling the fire and stooping down to trickery. This is one of the hooks the film clutches on you.

The first hook is when Khan Sahab's conscience shakes him. For a moment and more you really empathize with him. The second hook is when he throws the challenge; then the plot keeps on lifting you up like a screw-jack, a stage higher with every rotation of the thread. An ideal kind of plotting, where an identifiable central conflict runs through a few central characters with rising transition and increasing tension.            

Characterization – Khan Sahab's character is a classic example of grey characterization. This script is a text book case of antagonist as the central character. Or Negative Protagonist as some may prefer to call.

The film is all about Khan's conflict, his guilt and his transformation. He is the one key or central character who is in direct conflict with two Protagonists (practically one, because Sadashiv is another Punditji).

Sadashiv's character has a goal and is highly motivated towards it. There are hurdles and the screenplay builds them up nicely. Nevertheless, it is about Khan Sahab transformation or defeat you are more interested in than Sadashiv's victory.

Defeating Khan Sahab by winning him over is the self-contradicting conflict. Such things we rarely get to see in films. I call it characters and conflicts coming from within the script organically or the script writing itself.

There is another good lesson in this film about the pivotal character - Zareena, Khan's daughter. Again she also appears to be the supporting female character but for the Script she becomes the main female lead. On one hand dealing with the conflict between her parents, then knowing all the dirty secrets of her father's ambitions and while living with him, she wanting the truth to triumph. Though a little bit of daughter's interiority was missing, the script doesn't show her dilemma where Truth's victory will actually mean the defeat of her father, still her's is the character you fall in love with.

All that because she is one who stays righteous all through, no change in her character but she brings out transformations in other characters, leads to the development of crucial plot points. The Script spells out more scenes between Sadashiv and Zareena than Uma (Pundit's daughter and Sada's love) and those, especially in difficult times. Bonding of bad times is stronger so though there is no direct romance between Sada and Zareena, those scenes ooze out a lot of poetry and a beautiful platonic relationship of friends stays more with you than than the love track with Uma.

Usually in films like Bawarchi, the pivotal character brings out changes in the other characters through the screenplay. Here Zareena's character does that and beautifully binds the antagonist and protagonist forces and transforms them.

Another brilliant aspect of Writing here is the dialogue. The Film will be known for its musical jugalbandi, but at places you will also find great jugalbandi of dialogue too. 

There is only one issue with the Screenplay, which left me bit unconvinced, that's the resolution. Khan Sahab, who's so full of spite until last moment, has a change of heart with Sada's just one performance, albeit brilliant. Because he always knew, Sada was a gem of an artist, an embodiment of talent. Khan, in fact, was so insecure that he tried his best to stop Sada from singing. So when in the end Khan Sahab transforms it leaves the expectations partly unfulfilled.

Nevertheless there are several great things to learn in the film, maybe I will need to watch it more and come back to record here if needed. Well, even now we have many other things to discuss, but due to time constraint I am focussing on the main ones presently.             

Katyar is a piece of Art that will enlighten, educate, inspire and yes give you fresh lessons with every watching.

   Sanjay Sharma

Critic who loves to appreciate.

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