An investigative documentary that delves deep into the ‘power’ tussle faced by Kanpur’s residents, ‘Katiyabaaz’ takes the viewer on a see-saw journey through the by lanes, unruly power lines, political rallies and Discom office intrigues of Kanpur city- rendered powerless due to the mismanagement of power distribution.
This is a film that digs deep for answers and comes up with two sides of the struggle- the Discom attitude towards the loss of power and the local peoples fortitude in enforcing an illegal methodology for ‘empowering’ themselves in order to ensure a minimum livelihood.
As Loha Singh goes about connecting katiyas, the Kanpur Electricity Supply Corporation (KESCO) struggles with plans to make people pay for the electricity they use. Corruption, threats of violence and potential riots stay the enforcer’s hand quite a bit.
Both sides are given ample scope to state their case, but unfortunately neither stand can hold strong under closer scrutiny. With politicians entering the frame, it becomes a struggle - more for power than a panacea for existential dilemmas. The cat-and-mouse game between the people, politicians and the Discom holds all the thrills. Elections arrive.
Electricity is an issue in every politician’s speech shown in the film. Irfan Solanki, the local politician who raised his voice in favor of the people’s right for free electricity wins the election and the KESCO chief, Ritu Maheshwari, who was trying to reform the situation is sent off to a less volatile region.
No winners here-except the audience who get a thrill-a-minute front seat view on some of the most disheartening developments that take place in a small city. It took over two years to film this documentary and a lot of it was snipped at the editing table- yet there’s no denying the fact that the completed vision is completely engrossing. More power to the directorial team of Deepti Kakkar and Fahad Mustafa.