Direction : Om Katare
Writer : Om Katare
Cast : Om Katare, Ashok Sharma, Nitin Swamy, Aanand Pandey, Ajit Chatwaal, Paromita, Chatterjee, Mukesh Yadav, Ritu Raj & others


Deepa Ranade

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Yatri's LADDOO GOPAL successfully wrenches children from the grips of television and keeps them entertained them for two hours in the realm of a hassled king, his bumbling courtiers and his spirited people.

Welcome to Khajoorgarh where King Pista's aides are forever lulled into a deep slumber and before the King can launch any new venture, he must first awaken this snoring lot. And then there's the blabbering Prime Minister whom he must silence before he can attend to matters of the court.

So one fine day, after the King opens the court for hearing, he is shocked to find his daughter, Princess Khuskhus demanding justice for being forced into marriage to a man she doesn't love. The troubled King dispatches her off promptly only to face a barrage of complainants- a washerwoman, a barber, a cobbler and a milkman - all being conned by the miserly Laddoo Prasad who has availed of their services and who now refuses to recompense them.

Laddoo Prasad is promptly summoned by the King but in his devious manner, he manages to convince the King in his favour. The poor complainants are fined and punished while errant Laddoo goes scot-free. At home too, he forces a life of penury upon his wife and children. His wife has only two tattered sets of clothes and his children are not sent to school to save money!

So it comes as a great surprise when Laddoo Prasad suddenly has a change of heart and loosens his purse strings and he not only pays the dues he owes to everyone but also rewards them handsomely. The baffled but heartened people are in for a rude shock when Laddoo Prasad returns to his miserly ways and demands all the money back. So how does King Pista resolve this case and does Princess Khuskhus manage to avert the undesired match? This is a hilarious musical tale.

The cast is very competent and thoroughly entertaining. A special mention must be made of the washerwoman (Paromita Chatterjee) whose lively antics add zing to the proceedings as does Udbhav Ojha's easy-going music and Aanand Pandey's inspired singing. Om Katare presents an engaging dramatic tale with elements of comedy, music and dance well incorporated into it. The twist in the plot is interestingly executed. However, the choice of subject of a miser is a tad outmoded and it doesn't connect well with the young viewers of today. Also, the cast has a miniscule role for a boy who plays the marginal role of a beggar. It would have been nice to have had more children on the stage. Wish the story also had more fairy tale elements than the mundane issue of unpaid bills!

But on the whole, it is a well-enacted play. All the actors are so nimble footed and spontaneous that the viewers are drawn to them - all through. And that, going by today's channel flicking viewers with a minimal attention span, is no mean achievement. Kudos, Om Katare who doubles up as the writer-director and King Pista.

*Deepa Ranade is a film and theatre reviewer. She has been an entertainment journalist for over fifteen years.

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