Taking another look at Raja Ravi Varma

Getting a few talking heads and filling the rest of the time with random visuals is an easy cop out when making a documentary.

But in making a documentary on artist Raja Ravi Varma, filmmaker Venu Nair does not take that path. He, instead, has taken the docu-fiction route, using actors to film key events from his life and keeping the talking heads to a minimum.

The documentary titled Raja Ravi Varma – The Father of Modern Indian Art , produced by the Department of Museums and Zoos, was released here last week. It begins at a point when he has already attained the status of a celebrated artist. Ravi Varma, his brothers, and others are seen returning home, after winning the Kaisar-I-Hind medal of the British monarchy.

That point is important in the context of the film, because it focusses on the several adversities that he had to face in achieving what he did. For the then Travancore King, Ravi Varma winning the award is one more reason to teach him a lesson.

“Many of us have understood Raja Ravi Varma wrongly as an artist who achieved everything because of his background. However, the truth is that he had to face a lot of difficulties and was successful despite that. Also, most of this awards and achievements happened outside Kerala like how his work ‘Seetha Bhoopravesham’ got such a grand welcome in Baroda,” says Mr. Venu Nair.

The film also answers another criticism on the artist that he painted only those belonging to the elite classes. The documentary shows some of his paintings on hunger and suffering. Quite a few sequences are dedicated to showing Ravi Varma in the act of painting some of his best known works.

“As part of research for the documentary, I depended on some books like the valuable work by Roopika Chawla and the books by Kilimanoor Chandran and Nemom Pushparaj. His thought always was on how to make his work accessible to even the common people. This is why his works still remain relevant,” says Mr. Nair.

Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Aug 15, 2022 2:06:39 am |