When circumstances push you way past your breaking point, can disobeying the law be justified? This conflict lies at the heart of this riveting docu-drama based on real events in Kanpur. Though it predominantly deals with something as serious as ‘electricity theft’, it never ceases to be a humane drama that is heartbreaking, yet funny at times.
True to the title, the film’s (self-proclaimed) ‘hero’ of sorts is local vigilante Loha Singh, who is aKatiyabaaz, Katiya being the wire used to steal electricity and Katiyabaaz, the expert electricity thief.
Plagued by poverty and power cuts which last for as long as 15 hours a day, Kanpurites prefer paying thieves like Loha to get illegal but instant electricity, as opposed to paying KESCO (Kanpur Electricity Supply Company Limited), which fails to meet their expectations.
On the other hand, due to poor billing and collection standards, lack of funds, soaring demand, inadequate power generation and meter tampering, KESCO has been making heavy losses.
To bring the situation under control, KESCO’s MD Ritu Maheshwari tries her best to resolve the long-standing issues and generate revenue. She orders taking serious steps against the perpetrators and during the process, faces multiple challenges. Is there a solution to this rampant problem?
The film draws your attention to the reasons and repercussions of the critical crisis, instead of merely focusing on the illegalities, thus giving you the whole picture. Balanced in its approach, this is one of very few social issue-based films that dares to take sides. A tale of survival was never so poignant and entertaining, all at once.
Sensitively directed, realistically shot,* Katiyabaaz* will make you value the most basic thing your city provides you with, that you often take for granted – *bijli.*
Katiyabaaz is a moving account of Kanpur’s electricity crisis that makes you realise how badly our country needs to reform the system.
The Times of India