#RangRasiya #HindiBollywoodFilmMovieReview #JohnsonThomas Rating: * *1/2

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#RangRasiya Rating: * * ½   Trivializing art history.An uneven patchwork quilt woven around an tragic-romance between an artist and his muse with some tradition bending murmurings as a paean  to modernity. Picks up steam in the second half but by then it’s already too late to completely engage. #NandanaSen & #RandeepHooda do manage to show off their earnestness to good effect though! #PENInternational #MAYAMovies #DeepaSahi #AnandMahendroo #KetanMehta #RandeepHooda #NandanaSen #PareshRawal #JayantilalGada #ParulGossain #VikramGokhale #DarshanJariwala

Hindi Film review
Johnson Thomas

Dispassionate Celebration

Film: Rang Rasiya
Cast: Randeep Hooda, Nandana Sen, Feryna Wazeir, Paresh Rawal, Jim Boeven
Director: Ketan Mehta

Rating: * * ½
A film on the life of the celebrated 19th century kerala born Indian painter-Raja Ravi Verma appeared worthy enough on paper but the manner in which Ketan Mehta goes about rendering justice to a life story of  impressive artistic proportions and pioneering endeavor, is pretty much lack luster, piecemeal and dispassionate.

Any great work of art is driven by both passion and skill and Raja Ravi Verma’s illustrious paintings and lithographs stand testimony to  his greatness. But not so for Ketan Mehta’s cinematic endeavor to replicate that splendid life event. The film, which has been adapted from Ranjit Desai's Marathi biography of Raja Ravi Varma(played by Randeep Hooda) does a fragmented job of probing multiple themes – artistic freedom, religious bigotry, fundamentalist agro, the hierarchical caste and class divides. The narrative fleshes out those themes by serving up the sub-plot of a career prostitute Suganda(Nandana Sen)who dares to surrender herself(for posterity’s sake) completely to the man and the artist she loves and trusts. She becomes his muse and he her salvation but the artist’s agnosticism ruffles too many feathers in the caste and class hierarchy- for the love story to find a happy ever after ending. That’s the tragedy.

The story is narrated in flashbacks by Ravi Verma’s no less illustrious protégé Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, later revered as the father of Indian Cinema. Set in his hometown Killimanoor, Kerala, the first half is replete with hedonism and flirtations where the painter marries a Princess, gets embroiled in a sexual encounter with a lowly maid and is banished from the palace by the new Rajah.  His  shift to Bombay secures him  a commission from the Maharajah of Baroda which allows him to travel the length and breadth of India in quest of inspiration. 

That is how he meets up with Fritz(Jim Boeven), Seth Govardhandas(Paresh Rawal) and a T.O.I cultural reporter Freny(Feryna Wazeir) who become instrumental in helping him further his art and craft. But his attempts to mass produce prints of Gods and Godessess riles the fundamentalists, landing the painter in court trying to defend his artistic freedom while denouncing his attacker’s attempts to hold him responsible for the plague ravaging Bombay in those times.

Though there is bountiful drama inherent in the life story itself not much of it gets converted tellingly on screen. There’s a distinct lack of tension, authenticity appears suspect, and performances are not tight or passionate enough- save for the two lead stars who showcase their earnestness but are unable to make the experience richer or completely engaging. Cinematographer  Anil Mehta colors his cinematic compositions with a vibrant palette but it just doesn’t amount to enough. The depiction of passion through coital positions and partial nudity also fails to heighten the experience. This is a film that needed much more flamboyance and grip- that which Ketan Mehta doesn’t appear able enough to provide in the autumn of his cinematic career!


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