Saturday, 18 July 2015

Apsara Aali Laavani from Natarang

Again, no connoisseur of great music - but in my limited view, I think this song's possibly one of the most perfect songs I have seen in a really long time in my lifetime.

Indian films celebrate music, romanticisim by creating the fantasy sequences (started by Raj Kapoor) - as well as the surrealistic scene where the actors begin singing and dancing, and there's great music that magically appears as an accompaniment.

I used to be a snooty kid (some say I still am - and I agree... sometimes!!) and if I was in international company would actually get embarrassed by how silly the singing would appear to be - and it wasn't just me.  'Dancing around trees' is now internationally accepted lingo for Bollywood films

Anyways - no more apologies - I think I started admitting to myself that those songs were actually a big relief and helped me in coping with the stress of life, as well as provide a few minutes of fun.

But some songs simply stand out.  I feel they should be celebrated and kept in  a museum like a masterpiece - like Da vinci or Picasso's artworks are - preserved and exhibited for art lovers.

Few songs get the combination right - from lyrics, singing, the tune, the composition, the setting - to the actors, the choreography - everything falls so beautifully in place that you simply can watch this again, and yet again - for ever and ever....

And the most recent example of one such song for me is Apsara Aali from Natyarang.

OK some embarrassing confessions. Havent seen the movie in its entirety and don't plan to - ever.

I saw this song, thanks to my mom who's possibly more of a Marathi aficionado than even the truest ghaati's and punekars - even though we speak Konkani/

So whenever I am at my parents home the channels we watch are ZEE Marathi and every other Marathi channel from DD to ETV etc. etc.

And she's watching some awards function where this song is being performed, and apparently she's seen this already some numerous times so is waiting for this song with rapt attention

And its worth the wait - when the song begins, it just transforms and absorbs everyone in the household and takes the house by storm.  Its truly magical.

I look up the song on Youtube, and typically being late laggard, the song has been around for a long time.  I get to see the movie on television during the same visit, but having read about it on Wikipedia, it already sounds like a depressing stretch.   The one thing that captures my imagination is the lead actor Kulkarni - who is one of the best actors of this generation, - who manages to not just loose weight dramatically to transform himself from a hot blooded farmer to one of the trans-gender support staff that these dancers usually have.  Its one of his best performances ever.

I also start getting various pieces of information connected to the song.  The choreographer participates in another dance reality show as a judge, and does a fabulous dance piece with another judge which is truly outstanding.  apparently she wins a national award - and this is the first time I realize there's an award for choereography - for this song she truly deserves it!!!

The film maker is someone I bump into years later when I see his latest movie (then) called Balak Palak.  There's a special screening at the Birla Auditorium for the ad agency that he worked with.

The new movie is interesting, and you can see the spark and passion in the film maker. His latest film which I enjoy far more immensely than the few glimpses I had of Natrang - is about how the film makers'generation got introduced to pornography, and is a story told really delicately.  Since my community is quite similar, as is my generation which I share with the filmmaker, I could relate to this.  The songs in the movie are also outstanding - the music by Vishal Shekhar is one of the absolutely best I have heard - and they actually use electric guitar in a recitation of the Sanskrit shlokas.

Anyways coming back to Apsara Aali - the music was done by this young talented brothers called Ajay-Atul - who are interesting by themselves. (you need to see their pic - hard to believe they are related, or even actual brothers!).   Now Ajay Atul have been producing outstanding music for quite some time - but no one knows, as their music is only for the Marathi films.  But they have won the respect of the rest of the Mumbai film industry - and a lot of reputed, established singers from Hari Haran to Shankar Mahadevan look forward to return to more songs from the duo.

The song in the movie is set in the popular downtown upcountry fairs of folk music  in Maharashtra called Tamashas and Lavani (cant distinguish them). The dancers usually are good singers too, and mostly middle-aged but can turn on the audience of men to get them dancing on their feet. Most of the lyrics are coquettish, and double-entendres.  See the movie Bhumika to get a glimpse of what the song in Hindi would be like.

But Apsara Aali strays from this. The song is an appreciation of the beauty of the singer, and compares herself to one of the apsaras from the king of the Gods - Indra who is famed to have the loveliest fairies dance in his court.  The dress is also a modern interpretation and got some purists breathing fire, but is forgiveable.

The net effect is something worth enjoying for a lifetime - no, for ever... Watch and enjoy

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