Ketan Mehta, renowned for films like Bhavni Bhavai and Mirch Masala, could not have heaved a sigh of relief at the prospect of seeing his cherished Rang Rasiya ready for release this week after five years in the cans, before he was slapped with a legal notice. The movie is based on the legendary artist Raja Ravi Varma in which Randeep Hooda is essaying the role of Raja Ravi Varma while Nandana Sen is playing his muse.
Ravi Varma's great granddaughter, Indira Devi Kunjamma, who now lives in Kerala, has petitioned in a court to stall the opening of Rang Rasiya. She alleges that Mehta's work depicts her great grandfather as a 'playboy'.
Mehta, who spoke to Hindustan Times over the phone this morning, admitted to having got the legal notice, but said that Rang Rasiya was 'not a true story'. It was 'based on a novel written by Ranjit Desai more than 25 years ago'.
Mehta added that had struggled for all these years to get the movie into the theatres, because he was convinced that Ravi Varma was a great artist, whose story needed to be told through cinema. It was sad that while Ravi Varma had stood for the freedom of expression and won his case in the courts of British India, his descendants were negating what their great grandfather had believed in and fought for.
What was really regrettable, as Mehta averred, was that 'people had objections even before they watched a film'.
Ravi Varma's was not only a master artist, who generally used Maharashtrian models to depict Hindu gods and goddesses, but also a social activist. He made olio graphs of his paintings, often scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, that could be easily bought by poor people. Some of them were 'untouchables' who were not allowed to enter temples in those times, and so they had these prints in their humble puja rooms at home.