What is it all about?
‘Beauty captures your attention, personality captures your heart’. Finally Ketan Mehta’s passion ‘Rang Rasiya’ is able to show its true colours on the marquee and beyond any iota of doubt it’s a fascinating, appealing, compelling, inspirational, effective, bold and of course beautiful move beyond the brush and b-town mush.
The dramatized version of Ranjit Desai’s novel ‘Raja Ravi Varma’ - the renowned 19th century painter who gave gods their face, ‘Rang Rasiya’ is a well crafted beguiling and fascinating chapter of Indian art history coming to life on the silver screen.
Starts ‘beautifully’ and turns ‘special’ in its due course when Ketan explores the wars between two different worlds - The one who knew Raja Ravi Varma and the one who didn,t. It’s so striking to find the clash continues even today as the naivety to understand the beauty in nudity (truth) still prevails and the holiness of art, freedom of expression, still fights its battle.
Sanjeev Dutta and Ketan Mehta keep it simple and maintain a fine balance in their forward backward screenplay that compelling tells the story of the pioneer of Indian modern art painter Raja Ravi Varma (Randeep Hooda) from the princely state of Kilimanoor in Kerala who when gave faces to the divine by painting his muse Sugandha (Nandana Sen) as Saraswati, Laxmi and the controversial Urvashi in frontal nude, the artiste is charged with obscenity and vulgarity.
How Ravi Varma fights his defense in Mumbai Court and raises questions on freedom of expression forms the crux of the film where we see many shades of this artiste from a selfish painter to a pioneer in bridging the gap between the gods and his devotees (especially the lower caste who were not allowed to visit temples) through his printing press that printed posters of Hindu gods, to a lover, and a defender of freedom of expression in modern India.
Sanjeev Dutta and Ketan Mehta sensibly handle the shades of this great artist in this compelling melodrama which is a bit slow but beautifully intense.
What to look out for
Moving beyond brush and b-town mush ‘Rang Rasiya’ is not just a love story of a famous painter. Ketan Mehta succeeds in twining a social message by romantically coining the period biopic with the ‘freedom’ of expression undertone that echoes till the end. Like the gods in those calendars the message successfully manages to haunt the audience whenever they see the poster of Ravi Varma designed deity. That is the film biggest beauty.
Watch Randeep Hooda and Nandana Sen in the Pururava and Urvashi sequence, it’s nothing short of a masterpiece.
Made with passion and lot of heart ‘Rang Rasiya’ is a commendable effort. The love making scenes are done with grace and beauty. Christo Bakalov cinematography is eye pleasing as it follows the artiste from Kerala to Mumbai and Baroda.
The talented production designer Nitin Chandrakant Desai does it again it takes us to the era.
Sandesh Shandilya music goes with the flavor of the film.
Randeep Hooda gives his career best performance till date. Growing in strength to strength from a selfish painter to a selfless fighter, passionate lover, virtuous soul, moody and a genius it’s a dream for any actor to portray such range of emotions in one character and still keep the right balance of neatness with a personal nuance. Randeep Hooda does that. Brilliant.
Nandana Sen is captivatingly divine and graceful. The supporting cast lends great support where Paresh Rawal is terrific, Feryna Wazheir as admirer of Ravi Varma is charming.
Ashish Vidyarthi, Sachin Khedekar, Darshan Jariwala, Vikram Gokhale, Vipin Sharma and Rajat Kapoor chip in with adequate support.
The use of digitally enhanced backdrop in couple of scenes and the uneven dialect hinders the smooth narrative and catches unwanted attention.
Conclusion: Ketan Mehta delivers a fascinating, appealing, compelling, inspirational, effective, bold and of course beautiful move beyond the brush and b-town mush. Watch it for the love of art and cinema.