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The Celestial Nymph Descends – Apsara Aali – Natarang

The word Lavani is derived from the word Lavanya which means beauty. This particular genre of music and dance essentially originated in Maharashtra and is very popular even today. It is an integral part of the Marathi folk theatre.

This song from the film Natarang comes under the category of Shringari lavani which, like the name suggests, is sensuous and provocative. Although, this particular song does not fit into the general lavani rhythm and lyrics, yet it is a perfect example of a sensual lavani.

Komal kaaya ki moh maya
Punava chandana nhale
Sonyaat sajale roopyat bhijle
Ratnaprabha tanu nyaale
Hee natali thatali
Jashi umatali chandani rang mahaali
Mee youvan bijli
Paahun thijli Indrasabha bhavatali

She has soft and smooth skin, she says, as if she has bathed in the light of the full moon on a starry night
Her beauty is enhanced with the radiance of this skin of hers as if it is inundated in a stream of gold and silver and drenched in jewels
She has dressed up and appeared in front of us like a star that has arrived on the stage
She says I am the fire bolt of youth, who has stunned the entire court of Indra

It is a beautiful song composition by Ajay-Atul and written by Guru Thakur. The entire album was a huge success and well received by the audience. It is sung by Bela Shende and Ajay-Atul. The dholki (an integral part of the lavani) deserves a special mention here as it was amazingly played by Vijay Chavan. It makes you feel like getting up and show off your own moves, yes it does!

The music has that rustic feel to it which goes well with the theme and combined with the lyrics, it becomes a character in itself.

Apsara aali Indrapuritun khaali
Pasarli laali ratnaprabha tanu nyaali
Ti hasali gaali chandani rang mahaali

The celestial nymph has descended from heaven
And as she arrived, the entire sky was filled with bright red colours of dawn
Her moonlit smile has brighten the stage and her song has a divine tune to it

The film Natarang depicts an artist’s journey to achieve his dream and the hurdles that he goes through while getting at it. The path that he chooses has many thorns and the poor guy is barefoot. The film beautifully captures the issue of the gender bias that prevails in the society and how the hero singlehandedly faces it while achieving his dream.

Guna (Atul Kulkarni) has an obsession for the ‘Tamasha’ and is keen on starting a theatre company himself. His troupe is incomplete without a female dancer and in comes the beautiful Naina (Sonalee). The only condition of hers is that the troupe should have a ‘Nachya’ (a male dancer dressed as a woman or acts in a feminine manner). Feared of the society naming the actor as a eunuch, no one agrees to do so and hence Guna accepts to take it up himself.

Chhabidaar surat dekhani, janu hirkani, naar gulzar
Saangate umar kanchuki bhapudi mukhi sosate bhaar
Shelati khunaavi kati, tashi hanuvati, nayan talwar

Her face radiates like that of a diamond, coupled with her carven body makes her a refreshing beauty
Her blouse hints at her youthfulness and suffers silently due to its burden
Her chin is delicate and is dimpled which resembles the curves of her body
And her eyes are lethal just like the sword

The lyrics of this lavani are not straightforward erotic (which they normally are), on the contrary they are bundled in the web of words which are suggestive and it takes a little time to actually understand its meaning; example, where the dimpled chin is compared to that of the curvaceous body.

Hee rati madu bharli, daji
Thinagi shingarachi
kasturi darvalali, daji, chook hi varyachi

She is Rati, the scintillating goddess of love whose beauty is intoxicating
Her fragrance is like that of the musk which is dispersed everywhere by the breeze
And it is the fault of the breeze that the intoxicating fragrance has spread

The choreography of the songs in general was not very well received by the traditional lavani performers, but was a huge hit among the audience. This particular song has a completely different rhythm and out of this world dance movements. Sonalee Kulkarni looks so sensuous (without being vulgar) and never do her expressions cross that thin line. Not a provocative move anywhere and yet she manages to grab the eyeballs.

Atul Kulkarni’s act of the feminine looking, pansy actor is something to watch for. Look at the way he enters the stage! His style of walking, his expressions and the moment he goes off the stage, that masculine posture and the admiration in his eyes for the beauty dancing in front of him – simply genius.

It is really difficult to decide whether one should see the song or hear it. Because what is in front of us keeps us engaged throughout, but what we listen to compels us to close our eyes and imagine a completely different realm.

Maybe that’s the realm from which this celestial nymph has descended!

The Celestial Nymph Descends – Apsara Aali – Natarang
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