Creative freedom for most artists still remains a dream in India as the situation has not changed from the pre-Independence days of Raja Ravi Varma, says acclaimed director Ketan Mehta, who is ready with his new film based on the life of the great Indian painter.
"The problems that Raja Ravi Varma faced 100 years ago are still persistent. Artists like M F Hussain are living in forced exile because of their creativity," Mehta told PTI.
"We have become more conservative and intolerant despite our exposure to globalisation. My film focuses on this culture of intolerance where an artist is not allowed his creative space," says Mehta.
Known for making hard-hitting films like Mirch Masala, Maya Memsaab and Mangal Pandey: The Rising, Mehta's Rang Rasiya: Colours of Passion traces Ravi Varma's journey as the leading painter of his time, his relationship with his muse and struggles as an artist in pre-independent India.
Mehta hopes to release the film in December this year.
When asked about his choice of Ravi Varma over others, Mehta says, "Raja Ravi Varma led an extremely controversial and colourful life. He is the father of modern Indian art.
"A case, which was filed against the artist for promoting obscenity through his paintings, became the basis of my film," says Mehta.
Randeep Hooda plays Ravi Varma and Nandana Sen will be seen as his muse and inspiration in the film. Other lead actors in the film are Paresh Rawal, Dipti Nawal, Jim Boeven (Germany), Ashish Vidharthi, Sachin Khedekar and Darshan Jariwal. (More)
Randeep Hooda known for his tough image in gangster films like D Company and Risk was picked by Mehta to potray the character of the sensitive artist.
"I think he is an extremely talented artist and a brilliant actor. He has given a world class performance in this film," says Mehta.
Actress Nandana Sen as the sensual muse of Raja Ravi Verma was also the first choice for Mehta's says the director.
Talking about Censor Board's decision to axe some of the scenes of the film, the director said, "The board was very kind and passed my film with minimum cuts. They, in fact, appreciated the film, saying the subject has been dealt with utmost sensitivity."
Mehta says he hopes with Rang Rasiya, he would be able to establish the fact that an artist's creative freedom can not be curbed.
"My film reflects with the issues of creativity. You can not scare or stop an artist and his creation," Mehta says.
The film, which will be released in Hindi and English, has already been selected to be screened at two prestigious international film festivals.
It will be screened at the BFIs 52nd London Film Festival on 26th October and 30th October, followed by two screenings at the MIAAC Film Festival in New York on 6th and 8 November.
The director says he wants to make a science-fiction film after Rang Rasia.
"I want to work on a science fiction project after this film. I also want to work on a comedy and some other historical projects. But, I am completely engrossed in Rang Rasia for the time being," Mehta says.