Rang Rasiya is something which definitely steals your heart, leaving you spellbound as it introspects art, passion blending melodrama with subtext on human psyche but dares not to play by rules. ‘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. But, let me warn you that in case you are looking for that typical bollywood kind of masala entertainment than it is not your cup of tea. Morality is often monopolised by ugly, unemployed men. Who else gains anything from it anyway? And such people have been around forever. While this film is a biopic on artist Raja Ravi Varma, at the centre of it is a court case involving a painting where the painter depicts a mythological character in the nude. This is seen as an affront to both Hindu religion and Indian culture. The relevance of this movie then will be lost on no one in the audience. The relationship between art and morality (or the public and morality itself) has not been a linear one. We tend to go back and forth on this subject every few generations. It is really sad & unfortunate that despite completion, this movie was lying in cans for the last six years and Indian movie connoisseurs got to watch this movie so late. I learnt some facts about the history which i never knew before ; Here’s what I learnt if the facts in this film are true. I didn’t know, for one, that the reason we could take Hindu Gods out of temples and into people’s homes, at least in a two-dimensional form, was because Raja Ravi Verma decided to get into block printing (a new invention) and reproduce his mythological and religious portraits. This democratized religion in some ways. In fact Gods, as we know them, are mostly from Varma’s paintings. He made sarees of the festival kind popular. He even invested in India’s first feature film. I could go on and on.
STORY & SCREENPLAY :: The story has been adapted from Ranjit Desai’s novel ‘Raja Ravi Varma’ and the story as well as screenplay for the movie has been written by Ketan Mehta along with Sanjeev Dutta. 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. It takes you to an inspiring journey of legendary painter Raja Ravi Varma (Randeep Hooda). A simple guy born in Kerala and he takes the entire world by storm through his paintings. First he gets title of 'Raja' from a king (Ashish Vidyarthi) and then he leaves his wife who never appreciated his paintings and rather colorful carefree lifestyle. He lands in Mumbai in 1880 and then becomes first ever painter to paint Hindu Gods. This creates uproar among extremists and he faces wrath of certain religious groups headed by Chintamani (Darshan Zariwala). Beautiful lady Sugandha (Nandana Sen) whom he painted as Goddess was actually a prostitute and that becomes even bigger sensational issue. Later he paints her nude paintings inspired from Khajuraho which made extremist group file a case against him. But Ravi Varma never cared about anything but his art. He becomes first artist to take Hindi Gods in the house of every common man and even people from lower caste can worship who were not allowed inside temples. Sugandha faces wrath of society when her nude paintings come out in open due to selfish nature of Varma's business partner (Paresh Rawal). But against all odds Ravi Varma wins the case and went on to establish India's 1st printing press and started mass production of paintings. In the end, he gives his money to Dada Saheb Phalke who went on to become father of Indian cinema.
STARCAST :: 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 has tried to adapt to the needs of the strong character of Sugandha well, and this character gave her ample scope to prove her acting mettle which she has successfully done. Paresh Rawal has fitted the bill as mean business minded Govardhandhas perfectly. Darshan Jariwala as Chintamani Pandit has done full justice to his character portraying himself as the guardian of Hindu Culture. Vipan Sharma as Raja Ravi's servant although has any dialogue to speak in the movie but he has made his presence felt with his effective portrayal. Amongst the ensemble starcast noticeable performances have been performed by Vikram Gokhale as opposition Lawyer, Ashish Vidyarthi as the King & Sachin Khedekar as Dewan. A special mention of Gaurav Dwivedi for his apt portrayal of Raja Varma who was brother of Ravi Varma. Gaurav has ably delivered a nuanced performance.
TECHNICAL FINESSE :: Sandesh Shandilya has composed the soundtrack of the movie. Sandesh Shandilya has done a decent job at the soundtracks that feature beautiful classical symphonies keeping the British Raj period in mind. The cinematography of the movie has been handled by Rali Raltschev & Christo Bakalob who have astoundingly captured a sense of purity in their cinematography, luscious with light, undaunted by grain in the dark which is rare in most movies. The use of colors and lighting be it in frames, background, scenic spots or even inside premises is so audacious that it enhances the flow of romance and you are captivated by the enchanting visuals. The movie has been edited by Yves Belonaik & Pratik Chitalia who have faced flak from some of the critics regarding the editing of the movie but on the contrary i feel they have done a brilliant job. It can never be easy to edit such an intense movie wherein you have to maintain artistic aesthetics of an intense story while also keeping commercial success or turnover in mind. The talented production designer Nitin Chandrakant Desai does it again it takes us to the era. As a director, Ketan Mehta has really impressed via this movie. It is not easy to hold interest of the audience in such a historical piece of cinema but to his credit, he has done it wonderfully. Kudos to him for choosing such a bold subject for making a movie and presenting it in such an entertaining manner.
CONCLUSION :: Watch this movie if you have a thing for history, inspirational, effective, bold and of course beautiful movies that are beyond the masala and b-town mush. It is a must watch for the lovers of art and cinema.
Follow me on twitter at https://twitter.com/smgr105