It is indeed a rare occurrence that a movie shocks you, turns you inside out and provokes you to think, while settling in your heart and overwhelming your mind. I waited a full day to write this review because I wanted it to sink in, savour it, before I passed any judgement or comment.
Natarang is about a farmer, Gunavantrao Kagalkar or "Guna" (Atul Kulkarni) and his dream of becoming a famous artist some day. It starts off innocently enough with Guna and his friends making their way to the theater shows held in their village. While Guna's father is perpetually berating him for wasting money on naachnewaalis, his wife is a mute spectator to the drama unfolding at home. Guna nurses a dream of playing the role of a king in a self-directed play. His dream takes wings when he meets Pandoba, a man well versed with the ways of the acting world. Guna and his friends beg borrow steal costumes and musical instruments and start practising for the play. As Guna proudly dons the air of a king, he realizes that there's something missing in his play.
Guna and his friends soon get beaten up for asking women to work as dancers in their play, Pandoba comes to the rescue once again with a pretty dancer, Nayna Kolhapure (Sonali Kulkarni). After seeing the play, she insists that the play requires a naachya, a panzy guy who will dance alongside her. None of Guna's friends volunteer to play the naachya and Guna sees his dream begin to crumble in front of his eyes. The only way to salvage the situation is if he plays the naachya himself. The agony that he goes through to give up his king's role and take on the naachya's persona have been captured heart-wrenchingly well. From an extremely well built macho farmer, he makes the transition to a thin long-haired effeminate naachya. Nayna teaches him the tricks of the trade well and their show becomes a hit with demands coming in from villages near and far. However, Guna's fear that his effiminate on-stage personality will be mistaken for his real identity comes dangerously close to realization.
This movie has 2 amazing laavnis that I've already seen a hundred times till now. In terms of acting, it is top-notch. The repercussions of following your dream, especially in a creative field gave me the shivers. Even the trauma his family goes through when the sole bread winner and father figure goes off to fulfill his dream is moving. Throughout the movie, I kept asking myself. Was it right? Was his decision right? At the cost of his family members, their dignity, his own dignity? Was it all worth it? In the end though, there are no answers. Just a feeling of complete surrender to the art and its form.