Art against all odds
Cast: Atul Kulkarni, Sonali Kulkarni, Kishor Kadam, Priya Berde
Director: Ravi Jadhav
Marathi film industry was almost dead for me and was only churning out the usual potboilers and non-funny- at-all-and-assault-on-senses comedies from some years. But it’s showing signs of recovery and some promise lately. One such entry is Natrang.
Guna (Atul Kulkarni, can’t praise enough for his dedication) is an avid tamasha (folk dance) fan and has talent for writing. After loosing his job he swears to build a troupe but the realizes most important thing they need to find is lead dancer. Pandoba, manager of the troupe played with natualistic swagger by Kishor Kadam accidenlty stumbles upon Naina (Sonali Kulkarni) in Kolhapur (“Lanket sonyachya vita”). Pandoba convinces mother (his old flame)-daughter to be partner in the troupe but they want a nachya in their group otherwise threatens to call whole thing off. This sends Guna in real conflict where he has to choose between his social-family-personal image or his dream. He chooses latter in process rises in art industry and falls on personal and social fronts.
Tamasha is famous-infamous in the marathi folklore for various reasons. Making a movie around the secondary character in the show itself is surprising. But he is not mere an actor but a writer (shaahir) of his plays. He plays the part as no one else would and eventually realizes no one else could have. Society often destroys what it doesn’t understand. People fail to see he is just a man doing his job. Off-stage he is man he used to be. His on stage image is mistaken with his own sexual orientation. His rebellion is received as an outcast. From society, from family, from his mistress herself who love him all right but in one revealing scene she tells like an actress shelf life of nachya will be short lived. She doesn’t want to commit. He is shaken. So are we.
This one is more of biopic of an unusual folk artist but also a very sad one where he has to undergo the ordeal of social banishment, constant humiliation and harrowing acts of cruelty. I was reminded of another film which won Hillary Swank her first Oscar Boys Don’t Cry. Writer-director sure deserves the accolades that is been showered on him. Capturing the idyll milliue quite well director moves from laugh to grave subject of its title commendably. Still there were few things where I find it is kind of limited from going for greatness. Like Guna’s own personality gets lost in the midst of commercial game where he becomes a pawn or in portraying his relationship with women which is never fully realized. Or film doesn’t fully convey the real puzzling situation of fame and infamy he is trapped in.
These are few flaws that bothered me but let me not undermine what this film can mean to Marathi cinema. At one point, Guna decides to come up with what he does best – his own art- as an expression for his salvation. A play around Arjun-Brihaanadda where THE man of all time had to disguise himself as a woman under the circumstances demanded. It’s a brilliant idea. And so is the music of the film.
Artist eventually resurrects and refuses to be beaten down and continue to pursue his passion. He succeeds and so does the film.
* Bad **Average *** Good ****Very Good ***** Outstanding