Raja Ravi Varma will come alive in March, with Ketan Mehta’s biopic, Rang Rasiya. The artist, whom Mehta called the ‘Grandfather of Indian cinema’, is also the man responsible for giving Saraswati a human face — in his portraits and in the calendar art that followed his style.
Photographer Rohit Chawla’s 2009 Calendar features the likes of Anoushka Shankar, Ayesha Thapar and Feroze Gujral as Ravi Varma’s muses. “He is one of the few Indian painters who have documented our visual history and our style.”As Ravi Varma mastered his art, his women became pan-Indian, belonging less to a region or an era. “His women were timeless and my models have that timelessness,” Chawla goes on to add.
Actor Randeep Hooda, who plays the controversial artist in the movie, Rang Rasiya, says, “It was an honour to portray an artist like him. His greatness was that he took this art to the masses — he refused to do portraits and brought art out of castles.” Hooda adds that Ravi Varma’s art has a simple appeal and “you don’t need to be a critic to appreciate it.”