Film: Rang Rasiya
Cast: Randeep Hooda, Nandana Sen, Darshan Jariwala
Director: Ketan Mehta
French filmmaker Robert Bresson once said, “In the nude, all that is not beautiful is obscene.”
Many Indian filmmakers would have read this quote and watched his films, but rarely did they think of implementing it in its actual sense. But, Ketan Mehta is not one of them, as his Rang Rasiya is indeed about the colours of passion.
The film, which claims to be based on Ranjit Desai’s biography of renowned painter Raja Ravi Varma, is a journey where souls get undressed and nakedness finds a new purpose.
Ravi Varma (Randeep Hooda), who is married to a princess, is more inclined towards the colour palette than worldly duties. His family doesn’t approve of it and thus he becomes a rebel, who starts finding solace in his paintings. This leads to trouble and he has to leave home in order to preserve his art and philosophy.
All this is happening in late 19th century, a time when the peaceful co-existence of religion, science and art was probably not possible. After being patronised by the king of Travancore, Ravi Varma begins to give a new dimension to his art, but the demise of the king leaves him in a lurch. Now, the princely estate of Baroda appoints Raja Ravi Varma as its chief artiste and there begins a journey which continues till his last days.
A face of defiance, Raja Ravi Varma becomes the painter who snatches the Hindu gods out of the clutches of upper caste priests and makes them a household figure irrespective of caste, creed and individual identity of the followers. But, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. His ‘colourful’ character gives birth to many stories and some of them will cost him dearly in the court of law, where he is accused of profanity and blasphemy.
The narrative begins with an attack on an art gallery, where Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings are getting auctioned. It’s such an apt opening for a film based on the life of a painter, whose sole motive in life was to defy illogical norms.
After a great opening sequence, Rang Rasiya becomes a love story which exists in Sugandha’s (Nandana Sen) heart and Ravi Varma’s mind. The two swans keep floating in the pond of love, literally, before clashes begin among the age-old theories of anarchy, revolution and personal salvation.