Katkon Trikon

Direction : Girish Joshi
Writer : Dr. Vivek Bele
Cast : Sandesh Kulkarni, Ketaki Thatte and Dr. Mohan Agashe

Katkon Trikon play review

Sudhir Raikar

The celebrated Pythagorean Theorem is often used to find missing values in Algebra. KATKON TRIKON adapts it amusingly to trace the missing values in family relationships through the 'hypotenuse' of a family triangle. The mathematical analogy, more than a refreshing experiment in mainstream Marathi theatre, is an earnest plea to introspect some of the lop-sided relationship issues of our "EMI-driven" generation.


Prime amongst them is the growing sense of alienation in the minds of the senior citizens of today's nuclear structures. Distanced from the mainstream of family action and having been denied the pivotal roles of the now defunct joint families, some of them demand attention through the tool of nuisance value. The play appeals to the younger counterparts to consider the desperation of this chain reaction such that the force of their retaliation would lose some of its intensity, if not whole of it. More importantly, the play shows the futility of the so-called fluent logic of today's pompous professionals in trying to pin down hapless parents in hopeless debates.

The story moves back and forth to unearth the case of Aaba (Dr. Mohan Agashe) through the pithy inferences of Crime Branch officer Bapat (Agashe again) who is investigating Aaba's mysterious fall off the balcony. We learn from flashbacks that Aaba is perpetually at logger heads with his daughter in-law Bhakti (Ketaki Thatte) over trivial issues. The outspoken Math professor Bhakti is not known to relent either. This causes headache and heartburn for the lawyer Rahul (Sandesh Kulkarni), the only neutral member of the family. Whether as Bhakti's hubby or Aaba's son, he plays the docile referee ready to extinguish the fire of heated exchanges as and when they erupt...till the fateful night of Aaba's near-fatal fall when the internal strife turns into a police case.

Bapat takes poetic liberties in the course of his investigation, more than his profession would advocate, highlighting Aaba's undermined plight. Through three startling full-proof but intentionally fake deductions - holding the couple responsible for Aaba's fall in permutations and combinations - Bapat gradually exposes the couple's unanimous, hard-nosed attitude that finds Aaba the sole cause of all family strife. As Bapat observes "it's easy to collect evidence once the culprit is fixed. And those who can't articulate their standpoint in the language of the powers-that-be stand to lose everything, including their pride."

Dr. Agashe, in line with his reputation as a versatile artiste, is undoubtedly the play's soul. His commanding presence makes a stunning impact - both as the raw, unrelenting Aaba or the sharp, authoritative Bapat. The other two players simply stay put in the comfort zone provided by Agashe and in the inherent humour of the script.

While Sandesh Kulkarni is convincing in certain parts, Thatte is far from the resolute Math professor she is supposed to play. Since Aaba's peculiarities are made known to us solely through Bhakti's interpretation, Thatte's perfunctory act mars the plausibility of Bhakti's character ...her boisterous appeal seems devoid of substance - precisely why Aaba's angle in the right-angled triangle seems even more credible. Thatte could draw inspiration from Saskia Reeves who was brilliant as a Math professor in Simon McBurney's A DISAPPEARING NUMBER. In contrast, Thatte falls short despite the generous help from the script. Kulkarni's resort to needless slapstick towards the end also takes away some of the charm. The play's commercial success notwithstanding, such dilution seems awful in a production blessed with high benchmarks - a producer of the stature of Ajit Bhure, a prolific writer like Dr. Vivek Bele and a fabulous actor of the calibre of Dr. Agashe.

The backdrop of family bickering is not new to Marathi Theatre. Countless plays in the commercial circuit have thrived on this pet subject of Marathi bourgeoisie minds. KATKON TRIKON presents the same hackneyed wrangles but drives home some larger issues. Rather than convey the key message through an offbeat narrative of sombre situations, the play adds a tinge of a murder mystery to a comedy form that the audience is known to relish.

As a result, the play appeals to different people at different levels. While the common theatre goer would be lured by the tongue-in-cheek wordplay, the intellectuals among us are likely to downgrade the humour as humdrum. But one thought would certainly haunt each one of us as we leave the auditorium: When was the last time we extended a physical gesture of warmth to our parents? That is undoubtedly the play's enduring highpoint.

To the sensitive mind, KATKON TRIKON triggers more fundamental questions. Can an issue rooted in Maharashtrian ethos ever be examined in the light of borrowed Western notions of detachment and financial independence? Especially given the fact that the new generation seamlessly shifts the pendulum between the old and the new order as per convenience, and not as a matter of principle.

The play rightly hints at the merits of measured compassion in accommodating the involuntary eccentricities of our elderly - just as one would happily attend to a child's fuss. Not as a silver bullet to end all feud but as a therapeutic gesture to ensure equilibrium.

*A cost accountant by qualification, Sudhir Raikar says his chequered career of melodramatic proportions brought him closer to the world of films and theatre. He brings with him over 17 years of experience in writing that includes journalistic reports & stories, book and film reviews, analytical writing, critical appreciation, marketing communication, translations and business writing for leading media groups and corporate houses. His passion is fit-for-purpose writing.

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