Katran-Short Film Review
Katran in English literally translates to shredding or clipping with the lapse of time. Only if it was a piece of paper the process would be easier or less traumatic, but here we speak of two estranged souls on the verge of estrangement. In India, marriages are built on the consent of families, not the ones aspiring it. The bride and groom are often reduced to teacups which act more than props in match-making. It is usually a conversation-starter. Compatibility is hardly considered as an important criterion, we have salary, education and fairness to fill that gap. It's like an interview with the toughest HR team and they also decide your future. Picture those almost fifty-years back and you would understand why the dynamics between the couple at the centre seem relatable. In India, the whole marriage scenario is still similar to what it was then so you won't find it outdated or distant.
The short is about an old couple and we often assume that their conflicts must have faded by now. They have after all been together for years, it is evident from their adult (we don't see them here but they speak via cellphones), but they too have no respite. The cracks were always there, they didn't just appear suddenly but the gaps did widen when the husband retired. He is nearly 62 years old and the wife might be a few years younger, they keep squabbling over issues, trivial or serious. The husband is clearly frustrated and the wife has probably seen it all. There are four scenes in the short where we find them together yet apart. They even decide to take it to court. That plot point has been used in several films including a very successful Bengali film "Bela Sheshe". But the treatment here is very different it never romanticises the idea of incompatibility. A session with the lawyer feels like a trial of two exhausted and frustrated souls. They hurl accuses at each other and the wife clearly has a meltdown in the end.
Session with the lawyer
The leads are terrific especially Alka Amin, she coveys the angst pent up inside, very well. I have watched her in many a serial. But here she truly shows her range as an actor. She plays an ageing old woman unlike one. She never hesitates to put out her words, never stooping down in front of her husband in arguments. She totally deconstructs the conventions we hold for women in their fifties. We all know what a stellar performer is Piyush Mishra, he emotes a thousand expressions without really furrowing an eyebrow.
I loved the fact that incompatibility is a major reason for their fights. He is a Commerce graduate and she has never gone beyond fourth grade. She still uses a feature phone, he has shifted to a smartphone. The differences are visible and real but often taken for granted. In the Indian context, we don't appreciate the choices of old people specifically in the matters of the heart. Their union was not mutual and still had to keep up the ruse all these years. I relate and resonate with the short because my parents thus in turn me and my sister suffered immensely due to the forced union of my parents.
The short ends on a crescendo establishing that marriage may feel like confinement when the spouse is not your better half literally and figuratively. The background score is seamless and absolutely blends in with the frames. Differences may spark an electric but temporary affinity. For the long haul, you do need some common ground to thrive. Fulfilment of needs come from your sense of duty but it can't be an example of love and affection.