‘Every man has a bit of a woman in him and every woman has a bit of a man in her…’ says Gunwantarao Kagalkar as he fights to prove to the world that his masculinity is intact but circumstances and his passion for his art have driven him to be the ‘Nachya’ the effeminate, graceful, half man half woman in a ‘Tamasha’
Adapted from Dr.Anand Yadav’s novel by the same name, Natarang is the story of Gunwantrao aka Guna Kagalkar played by Atul Kulkarni. Guna is a helping hand on the farm and someone quite disinterested in anything but the art of Tamashaa. Tamashaa, is his creative outlet, but the world does not get it…
When the landlord fixes a pump to draw water out of the well, Guna and his friends are rendered jobless. To overcome their unemployment, Guna decides to set up his own Tamashaa crew. He works through the challenges of writing the songs and plays, getting the actors to learn their dialogue, but when their only hope, a young girl, who could be their heroine, demands a Nachya, he finds himself at a loss. No man would put his masculinity on the line for an art form but for Guna, this is his passion. Guna transforms himself from a hatta-katta pehelvan into an effeminate Nachya and their Tamashaa crew starts pulling in the bucks. However, Guna’s struggle doesn’t end here. He has to fight politicos, the society that questions his masculinity and to convince this very society that Tamashaa is a form of art and Tamashgirs, artistes.
I always enjoy films or books that give me something beyond the premise of the story, and Natarang goes to do that on many levels. Be it chronicling the folk art form, which by the way is almost never visible to us urban ‘Maharashtrians’ or be it talking about an artiste’s struggle in swimming against the tide, Natarang touches a chord and how…
Atul Kulkarni, yet again proves himself to be a brilliant performer as he switches from the ‘tagda’ Guna to the ever so graceful Nachya. When he moves, you cannot take your eyes off him, and when he burns to tell the world that labels him ‘Phalkya’ (Marathi slang for Gay), that he is nothing but a passionate ‘Kalakaar’, you burn with him. The grace he brings to the character is phenomenal… Right before the interval as he transforms into the ‘Nachya’ you can’t help but applaud. Sonali’s (not Sonali Kulkarni as buzz18 conveniently calls her) introduction in the film as the young, graceful Naina Kolhapurkarin, makes you want to get up and dance.
The soul of the film is the fabulous background score by Ajay-Atul. It captures emotions of every scene, every character and just creates magic. They are my favourite music directors and you will know why when you watch the film.
Biggest drawback, in my opinion is the lack of subtitles. A passionate film like this should not be limited to an audience of one language alone.
My take: 4.5/5
And yes, this is the second Marathi film I’ve seen in the past month, first being Gabhricha Paus, and I am proud to say that in quality of content and creating that magic of cinema, Marathi films are way ahead than the much larger Bollywood. I want to congratulate the entire unit of Natarang for creating this fabulous cinematic experience that captures entertains, emotes and enriches the mind of the Cinephile in me…