Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Loved the Lavni!!

Absolutely and totally had the best time ever! It was one of the most entertaining three hours of my recent life, I can tell you that. There I was , sort of brain dead after an intense interview on how India was responding to the global recession, with Jan Ross, the foreign editor of DIE ZEIT, when boom! I rushed to the NCPA, pushed my way past the entire Maharashtra State cabinet and grabbed my seat in the second row ( first come, first served). I liked Jan a lot, since he 'understood' India. His first visit had been years ago as a 12 year-old boy, whose virgin trip abroad was to Mera Bharat Mahan to see the Taj Mahal!! " It was like a body blow," he said in retrospect, chuckling at the memory of that revelatory trip and the sight of the shabby shanties lining the route to Agra.. I didn't let him finish his chocolate cake since I was so worried about getting lousy seats. How often does one get to watch a Lavni in this part of Mumbai? Yes, I know the context is 'plastic' ( yoo hoo Abhay the Purist!), but it is still better than not watching it at all.
That's the good part...
Lavni is a particularly bawdy dance form from rural Maharashtra... and has been staging a quiet revival during the past few years , thanks to state patronage. The first troupe we got to see featured six pretty girls, but they were clad in ghastly, blingy nine yard sarees with far too much tinsel in their hair. Gone were the traditional 'lugdi' with woven aanchals ("padar' in Marathi). Instead, these buxom ladies wore Bollywood -style stiched sarees that were heavily embroidered and embellished with sequins. Help! That as disappointment number one. The repertoire was equally filmi, but nobody seemed to mind, going by the enthusiastic whistles that greeted their every 'jhatka'. The second and third troupes were infinitely better, even if the dancers were scrawnier and looked in urgent need of Vitamin B shots. Thank Vithoba, the lyrics were deliciously raunchy with all the wickedest double entendres that are so damn difficult to translate. How the hell can anyone convey the naughtiness of " Majhya ooosala lagal kohla ga...." Let me try - " A fox is about to attack my sugarcane." Make any sense?? Old girl Sulochana ( in her late seventies?) sang that live on stage to thunderous applause. As for the MLA's present... they had to be heard and seen, as they got up and boogied themselves while urging the dancers to flirt some more. The ladies happily obliged!! Great evening. I came home and devoured a jowar bhakri stuffed with green moong.... and yes, slathered with pure ghee. Bliss. There wasn't a fox in sight. The 'oooos' was safe! I slept well!!


Sameer said...


Loved your report on Lavani. As a Maharashtrian myself, I always loved watching 'real' lavani performance and enjoying the songs. It's a pity at times the self proclaimed 'sanskriti rakshak' don't necessarily appreciate this wonderful folk dance and song form of Maharashtra. Hopefully the state government will do it's best to keep this art form alive. After all if they don't, who will?

Did you see an effeminate character 'naachya'? (not sure if this character is part of 'tamasha' or 'lavani' as well) In old marathi movies, veteran actor Ganapat Patil used to be a 'naachya' and he made that character very famous and alive with real emotions. Your post made me think of this great actor.

By the way, you should mention if your husband was with you and if you had to translate the lavani song meaning to him. It's impossible to tranlate such things(I am presuming, him being bengali, he doesn't understand marathi - at least the 'lavani' marathi'):)

Subhajit said...

Hey Ma'm,

It's nice to know that you are still continuing to eat Ghee on full swing as u promised. The best was the Vitamin- B deficiency.

Thanx for enlightening me on a beautiful culture like this.

Another Kiran In NYC said...

I am sad and ashamed to say that I have not seen a full-on Lavni performance that is a highlight of my own folk culture. My closest encounter with Lavni were the brief song and dance routines in the black and white Marathi movies shown on a Saturday evening on Doordarshan. My mother told me about the clever and risque lyrics used for both Lavni and Tamasha performances. Needless to say, my grasp of the vernacular will have to improve greatly for me to "get" all the double entendres.

I did get "oosala lagal kolha ga" though and laughed quite heartily. It does not translate well at all, because I was completely unable to explain it well enough to my non marathi speaking husband. He just looked blankly at me like I was a mad wolf baying at the moon. Obviously I did not resemble a pile of juicy sugarcane ripe for ravishment by a fox. Hehehehehe.

Narendra shenoy said...

Enjoyed this! And laughed hard at the last sentence! And AnotherKiran's comment!

Were there really whistles? Those babus from Mantralaya seem to conform to the "Pikalya paanacha det ki ho hirawa" theory. Must have been atmospheric.

Watched "Little Zizou" last night. Loved it!

Zlaek said...

"an interesting and unpredictable package"

that's what you are ma'am! :D :D

Balvinder Balli said...

Hi , i am in transit, will be getting back to regular blogging after a few days.

Akum said...

Sounds like u had fun..

Unknown said...

waah...phaarach chhaan! it's almost like you added some 'karnaaTaki kashida' to your blog. the meaning won't survive the translation anyway, so let's leave it at that. :P

Anon said...

As a bawi I sadly have never had the chance to see a lavni. Sounds like it would be awesome. And yes I will probably get most of the double entendres. Shocks most people that I can speak. Marathi pretty well. Do they do a lavni to "hee pori konachi?" More lavni lyrics please we could sure do with more laughs

Pritesh Patel said...

Im feelin damn jealous! I had to miss the lavani on Mon & Tues coz i was travelling and Wed coz i had a telecon.
How i wish i could hv caught it. Next year i guess.

Pratap said...

I am really jealous that you got to see such a performance.
AND to hear Sulochana Chavan LIVE. NOW.
I remember hearing her 26 years ago at my college function and she was amazing.
BTW - It is tuzhyaa usaalaa laagal kolhaa.

I just don't get this Bollywoodization of everything. I've seen some of the competitions on the Marathi channels and the sequined sarees and blingy jewellery suck.
I go to youtube and watch the old b&w movie lavanis with Jayashree Gadkar.

I blame Karan Johar and Farah Khan for all this nonsense!

At a proper Tam Bram wedding in Chennai most of the people were wearing Bollywood outfits instead of the traditional Kanjeevarams and Dhoti+shirts ala P Chidambaram.
What is happening to us!

But you are incredibly lucky to have attended this one.
Thanks for letting us live vicariously through you.

Unknown said...

sounds good...

Work from home India