Natarang released on the 1st of January 2010 and I have been a fool to have missed it for such a long time. While I watched overrated duds like ‘Lalbaug Parel’ and ‘Mee Shivajiraje Bhosle Boltoy’ on the first day itself, I somehow missed this movie despite the fact that it starred one of my favourite actors - Atul Kulkarni.
Atul Kulkarni plays Guna, a poor labourer who barely manages to keep the food on the table for his family. He is enamoured by Tamasha (Folk Art) much to the chagrin of his father. Tamasha was considered to be an immoral form of act in those days. When his only source of income is taken away from him, He goads his friends into starting a theatre troupe. He assumes the responsibilities of a writer/lyricist. Soon, they realise that their Tamasha would not draw crowds unless they have a female lead. So,they scrounge into the nearby villages for a female lead and finally manage to convince a dancer. The Dancer puts forward a condition that the troupe should also have a Nachya (A Pansy character) who will provide comic relief and also will be a crowd puller. Nobody is willing to play the character fearing the consequences and due to the stigma and the social taboo attached to eunuchs.
Finally, a reluctant Guna, has to play the Nachya and he takes it up as a challenge. Then follows his struggle to gain acceptance in a society which identifies actors with the characters they portray.
Atul Kulkarni’s transformation from the heavily built Guna to the slim and slender Nachya is astounding. It is said that he gained and lost 16kgs in 42 days for the role. But what is more noteworthy is the ease with which Atul Kulkarni switches from the rustic Guna to the graceful and elegant Nachya. He pumps the testosterone levels in the first half and then drowns everyone in oestrogen in the second. He captivates you and while you’re still gawking at his physical transformation, Atul Kulkarni moves on and mesmerises you with his acting.
Kishore Kadam is also brilliant as Guna’s manager, Pandoba. Sonali Kulkarni is also charming as the female lead. Guna’s wife, Darki has a half baked character and she complements it with an equally listless performance.
The musical score is simply outstanding especially “Atta vajile ki baara” (It’s midnight) and “Apsara Aali” (The Celestial Nymph has arrived) which make you want to get up and dance.
This is a must, must watch movie. I rate it as one of the very best of the Marathi film industry and it easily makes into my list of recommendations..!!
Take a bow, Mr. Kulkarni..!! :)