I hope that a lot of people enjoyed my last post, the one that contained a bunch of Lata songs from V. Shantaram’s films, mostly starring Sandhya. Those Shantaram-Lata-Sandhya projects actually helped me to discover a few very good things, including the Marathi folk dance known as lavani. It was therefore a nice coincidence that just a little while after I wrote that last post, I stumbled upon a very informative documentary on some people’s efforts to preserve the Marathi form of theater known as tamasha and, in particular, the dance that goes with it, lavani.
Below is the documentary, uploaded in two parts. The first part includes a lot of explanation and background, and it features some people who definitely know about this subject. The second part is focused more on teaching and performance in the present day, and I particularly like this part because it contains a lot of lavani.
Naturally, after seeing the documentary, I had a craving to find some lavani dances in Marathi films, and I did find a few very delightful numbers that I had not known about before. Lavani dances apparently can be as enjoyable as any other folk dances or semi-classical dances found in Indian films. (And, by the way, as mentioned in the documentary (as well as other sources), there are significant similarities to kathak.) In fact, they can be positively lovely – which makes perfect sense, since the word “lavani” comes from the word “lavanya,” which means beauty.
Here are two classic black-and-white numbers from the late 1950s to early ’60s. They feature a couple of very nice singers, Asha Bhosle (whom you may have heard of) and Sulochana Chavan. The star is the famous Jayshree Gadkar. (By the way, I have known of her probably since about the time of her death, which was in 2008. I have tended to refer to her as the “other Jayshree,” but maybe that isn’t fair. If I learn more about her, she could become the main one.)
While looking at a bunch of videos, I found another Marathi black-and-white film with very pleasing lavani dances, called Sushila. Actually, this one was made as recently as 1978 (but that’s OK, because I am not sticking strictly to vintage material here). This song is sung by Usha Mangeshkar, and it stars Sandhya’s niece, Ranjana Deshmukh.
However, there is a song/dance from this film that I like even more. Once again, the singer is Usha Mangeshkar, but the dancer is Leila Gandhi.
This next scene is from a film made the following year. I don’t know anything about the people involved in this movie, but it caught my eye because I like the music and dance and the nice colors(!).
Of course, I can’t end this post without including Sandhya. I am not going to repeat previous Sandhya lavani dances that I’ve posted… If you want to see some of those, go to my last post and look at the first and last selections. Or, better yet, feel free to go back to December of 2009, for the post that I wrote about Pinjra (1972). Here, I’d like to close with something that I just discovered… It’s a lavani song, but it’s also a train song, and a very good one. It’s from Chandanachi Choli Ang Ang Jaali, made in 1975. (Sandhya was therefore 45 in this film, and she seems just as energetic here as she was in her early 20s.) The music is excellent (composed by Ram Kadam), and the singing by Usha Mangeshkar is beautiful. Plus, the ending is downright explosive. I have seen song sequences that ended this way before, probably at least a couple of times. But I still find it effective, and I like ending this post with a bang. Though this isn’t really the end, since I am definitely feeling inspired to do another post of lavani dances in the near future.