Rang Rasia is movie with a backdrop of the end of 19th century when artist Raja Ravi Varma is arrested for obscenity, immorality and hurting religious sentiments of the people. He is accused of painting nudes of Indian mythological characters. He goes to the court for trial. Raja Ravi Varma created a fascinating world of romanticism through his paintings when he falls in love with Sugandha played by Nandita Das. She becomes his muse and his inspiration. The film is a fascinating tale of Raja Ravi Varma’s passions, his obsessions and his fierce struggle for creative freedom. For the first time in the history of Indian Cinema, someone from from the leading actress like Nandana Sen goes topless for the movie. A lot of controversy is waiting as soon as the movie is released.
Release date: TBA
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I first saw Ravi Varma’s prints as a young film school student and was struck by their colourful exuberance and expressive quality. It became evident that this was the starting point of the modern sensibility in Indian Art, the beginning of popular culture and it had deeply influenced early Indian cinema. As I heard and read about his life, the mesmerizing story of his struggle to express his art became an inspiring tale to me as a film maker. Once I started making films and suffered various self righteous censor boards, I found my mind being drawn again and again to Ravi’s life. Today Raja Ravi Verma seems relevant to me not just as an artist but as a metaphor for creative freedom itself. The papers are full of news about numerous fundamentalist factions, in various parts of the world, deciding what is wrong and what is right, what can be expressed and what can’t be expressed. Are there any limits to creative freedom and freedom of expression, Ravi Verma paid dearly for testing those very grounds.
The sensuality of the relationship between the artist and the muse is the stuff that dreams are made of. In ’Rang Rasiya’ one finds a perfect blend of contemporary relevance, universal appeal and cinematic exuberance.
DEEPA SAHI AND AANAND MAHENDROO
An artist expresses his time, challenges the norms and expands the limits of experience. Creative freedom is central to human civilization. As ideas of freedom of expression become wide-spread and the means of communication become more available, we find a strange paradoxical resistance to the very idea of freedom of expression – the intolerance of the established powers, in the garb of religious sentiments, seems to rear its ugly head and the protest against this very freedom often becomes violent.
It has always been difficult for societies to accept change. The new thinker is rejected, humiliated and punished. It was the same with ’Raja Ravi Varma’ 160 years ago; sadly, it is the same even now.
The great painter’s fame and popularity became the very cause for a grave crisis in his life. Some of his paintings, especially a series depicting characters from Indian Mythology in the nude form invited the wrath of the conservative Hindus. He was accused of obscenity and offending public morality. A case was instigated against him and tried in a court presided over by a British judge Justice Richards. He fought the case to defend artistic freedom and won … but at what cost?
This universal question of ’freedom of expression’, coupled with Varma’s checkered but controversial life, his passion to reach his art to the common man, his bonding with a German printer to achieve his goal and his stormy yet poignant, inspiring and passionate relationship with his love and muse Sugandha makes compelling narrative and provides rich tapestry for an exciting film.
More About RAJA RAVI VARMA (1848 – 1906)
“The Painter amongst Princes, The prince amongst painter”
Born in an aristocratic family of Travancore, Ravi Varma was a child prodigy, his inherent talent was recognized very early in childhood and he received the patronage of the King Ailyam Thirunal of Travancore. At the Trivandrum Palace he came in contact with the Indian and European painters and learnt to use oil paints. In 1873, he won the Governor’s gold medal at the ’Madras painting competition’ and soon he was awarded the title of RAJA by King Ailyam Thirunal and became famous for his portraits paintings of the Indian royals and British officers. Acknowledged as the father of Modern Indian Art, he evolved a unique painting style merging the traditional Indian style of painting with the European classic realism.
However after the death of his patron king, Ravi Varma left Travancore and arrived in Bombay. As his reputation spread, so did his desire to explore and expand the horizons of his art. He was the first to give a face to Hindu Gods and Godesses by creating their realistic images. He gave them their identity. Under the patronages of Maharaja Sayaji Rao Gaekwad of Baroda, he created a series of paintings based on the great Indian legends and stories. Like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michael Angelo in Europe, his mythological paintings from the Indian epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, paintings like Sita Swayamvar, Sita bhumi pravesh, Draupadi cheer haran, Nal-Damayanti, Harishchandra-Taramati, Arjun Subhadra etc. brought alive the ancient cultural heritage of India. These paintings were like a quest, as if he was searching for the soul of India.
He was a true visionary and a pioneer. He dreamt of liberating art from the confines of the temples and palaces and reaching out to the common man. With help of a German Master Printer, Fritz Schleicher, he introduced printing technology in India and soon his art reached homes throughout India. Raja Ravi Varma is the highest priced Indian painter. Recently one of his paintings was auctioned for over seven crore rupees.
Raja Ravi Varma was the first to depict Hindu Gods and Goddesses in realistic paintings. His paintings based on stories from Indian mythology and classic literature created a pan Indian iconography which became the basis of an Indian identity. Over half a billion people pray in front of colourful prints of Gods and Goddesses inspired by Ravi Varma paintings. He, with a German master printer ’Fritz Schleicher’, started one of the earliest Lithographic printing presses in India. His colourful prints became a rage and sold all across India. He is acknowledged as the father of modern Indian art and the originator of what is called ’Calendar Art’.
Ravi Varma traveled all across India in search of the ideal attire for the heroines of his paintings. He finally fixed upon the ’Sari’. The women of India accepted it whole heartedly. ’Sari’, the attire of the Indian women, famous the world over, was in fact popularized by him.
Dada Saheb Phalke, considered the father of Indian cinema started his career as an apprentice with Raja Ravi Varma. Early Indian cinema derived its imagery primarily from Ravi Varma paintings.
His popularity reached such proportions that a special post office had to opened, just to handle his fan mail. Recognising his fame and influence, the British Govt. awarded him the highest civilian honour of ’Kaiser – e —Hind’. His colorful depictions of themes from Indian mythology have created a pan Indian iconography which continues to be the basis of an Indian identity even today.
Watch Rang Rasia Trailer and Promo
Screenplay & Direction Ketan Mehta
One of the most acknowledged filmmakers in India, he is the recipient of many National and International awards. His last film “The Rising” was one of the most successful and acclaimed films of 2005. Amongst his well-known works are ”Mirch Masala”, ”Maya Memsaab”, ”Sardar”, ”Bhavni Bhavai” and ”Holi” . He has also served as a member of the jury on numerous International Film festivals.
Producer Deepa Sahi
Deepa Sahi started her career as an actress in critically acclaimed and popular films like “Tamas”,“Maya Memsaab”, “Hum” and “Aar Ya Paar” with leading directors in India, She turned a producer in 1992 with the feature film “Maya Memsaab”, an Indo-British-French co-production, produced in association with Channel 4 UK and Video 13 France. She has so far produced 5 feature films and 7 TV series.
Producer Aanand Mahendroo
Arguably, one of the most well known and respected names in the Indian Entertainment space, Aanand is a house-hold name amongst Indian viewers and Indian Diaspora worldwide due to the stupendous success of his Television family comedies like Dekh Bhai Dekh, Idhar Udhar, Isi Bahane, Indradhanush, Daddy Samjha Karo, etc. High technical finesse, social relevance and great entertainment are the hallmark of his work. A several time award winner, he has been a member of the Governing Council of Film &TV Institute of India and has also served as a Jury member on Mumbai International Film Festival for Short, Documentary and Animation Films. Currently he is producing several and International films.
Co- Screenplay Writer Sanjeev Datta
A graduate of the National School of Drama, Sanjeev wrote the National Award winning film ’Page3’. He is one of the most sought after writers for films particularly after the success of ’Metro’, he has several big productions on hand. He has also co-written another International project —’The Journey’ along with British writer Andrew Hislop. Acknowledged as one of the most talented writers to enter Bollywood due to his small star cast and big successes.
Production Designer Nitin Desai
Nitin Desai has designed over 100 films in India including films like “Parinda”, “1942 A love Story”, “Devdaas” and “The Rising” He has worked for International film Productions like “Salaam Bombay” and “Kamasutra” by Mira Nair, the French film “Amok” by Joel Farges, “Jungle Book”, a Walt Disney film. He has also worked with Oscar nominated Art Director Anthony Pratt for the film “Buddha.”
Music Sandesh Shandilya
Sandesh Shandilya became an independent music composer in 1997. His memorable albums include Piya Basanti with Ustad Sultan Khan and Chitra, Pyar Ke Geet with Shubha Mudgal and I Love You with Udit Narayan. His claim to fame, though, has been through feature films. Notably, he scored music for Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Arjun Sajnani’s Agni Varsha, Ram Gopal Varma’s Road, and Sudhir Mishra’s Chameli.
DoP Rali Raltschev B.A.C
Well known and acclaimed German DoP of Bulgarian descent has won the ’Best Camera Award’ at film festival Sophia 2007 and has been associated with several German and International films like Maimuni prez zimata, Obarnata Elcha, Verliebt in eine Leiche, Erste Ehe, Das alte Lied, Samsara, Letter to America, Luna Papa etc. He is aware of the film shooting conditions in India as he shot Pan Nalin’s Samsara in India.
DoP Christo Bakalov B.A.C
After wining the Grand Prix for ’Debut in Cinema’ in Bulgaria in 1986,Christo has accumalted a string of awards for himself including the Grand Prix for the movie “Silence”(1990), the Grand Prix (1996), Cinematographer Award by the Union of Bulgarian Filmmakers, and the Grand Prix for the Best National Cinematographer 2002.He has been the DOP for “Quitters” Dir. Henry Miller, and “The Devil’s Tail” by Petkov amongst others.
CAST & CREW
Randeep Hooda Nandana Sen
( Raja Ravi Varma) (Sugandha)
Jim Boeven as Fritz Schleicher
Roop Kumar Rathod
CREATIVE & DESIGN SUPPORT
Bhagat Singh Rathore