Between dawn and dusk

Sruti Harihara Subramanian with painter Krishen Khanna.  

In the recently announced National awards, Sruti Harihara Subramanian’s 63-minute documentary on the nonagenarian painter Krishen Khanna has bagged the award for best arts and culture film, as well as, for its musical score by the Chennai-based duo Aravind and Jaishankar.

The documentary ‘A Far Afternoon – A Painted Saga’ was produced by Sruti Hari for the Piramal Art Foundation. “I am trying my hand at Tamil, Telugu and Hindi feature films. However, the Piramal Art Foundation chose me to do this documentary, which I readily accepted,” says Sruti, a graduate of Visual Communication from University of Madras. She has worked with actor-director Revathy, Vikram Kumar in ‘Yavarum Nalam’ and assisted Vishnu Vardhan in ‘Panjaa’ (Telugu). Member of a theatre group, she has also acted in serials.

Initially, the Foundation planned to put together an archival footage of the well-known painter and his method of working. But it turned out to be a satisfying experience for Sruti when they decided to go ahead with a full-fledged documentary.

“I had no idea that this painting would reach this stage. I began with the groom on a white mare, with an youngster seated behind him, fearfully clutching him,” says Khanna. “The painting took off from this image. It was becoming like a mural which, by its nature, borders on infinity. The change in scale involved a wholly different approach.”

Khanna is one of India’s most prolific and influential artists. Born in Faislabad (Pakistan) in 1925 and brought up in Lahore, the artist’s family migrated to Shimla during the partition. Khanna was a full time banker and part time artist. His work brought him to Mumbai and he became a member of the Progressive Artists’ Group. He eventually gave up his banking profession to become a full time artist and there was no looking back. In April 2014, at 89, he set out to create a new art work.

Says Sruti, “ ‘A Far Afternoon’, a film in five parts, delves into these influences and the artistic process involved in the creation of the eponymous art work.”

The music duo, Aravind-Jaishankar is elated about the National award. “We employed only Carnatic ragas, as the great painter lived in Chennai for some time and is fond of classical melodies.”

Since the film revolves around a painter, they chose soothing tunes for the score. “Khanna sahab’s favourite raga is Sankarabharanam. So we recorded a tune in it. We also learnt that he has a liking for western classical. We, therefore, made use of the cello, which was played by Sekar,” say the composers sitting in their swanky new studio.

Music and sound production artists, they have worked on award-winning films, documentaries, advertising commercials and computer and mobile games. They made a foray into documentary films a few years ago, when they composed the music for Jayakanthan’s ‘Orukku Nooru Paer’ by B. Lenin.

According to Sruti, a founder trustee of The Cinema Resource Centre, a public archive of Indian Cinema, “It was a rewarding experience.” She feels the film’s scripting was easier, while the editing took considerable time. Talking about Khanna, she says, “He is full of life and loves to view things in a positive way. He enjoys talking and telling stories. It was wonderful to interact with him and his family.”

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 9:35:53 AM |

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