Director: Ketan Mehta;
He's known as the father of calendar art, Raja Ravi Varma,
played with arresting arrogance by Randeep Hooda in Ketan Mehta's
exceptional biopic that brought the gods out of the temples and
made them accessible to the masses.
And now Ketan Mehta, that artiste extraordinaire who paints his
characters with the brightest colours of life, has brought the
enigmatic ambivalent life and art of Varma out of the closet into
the portals of palpable accessibility.
As depicted in Rang Rasiya, the life of Raja Ravi
Varma hovers heftily between the sublime and the mundane. He's at
once an artiste and an entrepreneur, a lover and a debauch, a giver
and, in his own words, a small selfish petty artiste. Hooda goes
through the many phases of the artiste's life with first-hand
Among many other things, Rang Rasiya is an illuminating
exposition of a life that defies all demarcations and analysis.
Varma was so many things to so many people. To thousands of Hindus,
he's the guy who made worship of the gods accessible to all. To
those close to him, he was a vain and selfish artiste who thought
only about himself. To encapsulate such a scattered life in a
two-hour film is a near-impossibility.
Mehta manages the miraculous. The film portrays the artiste as
an icon and a rogue. An indolent genius who chances upon an
ingenious formula to immortality: if Man can't go to God, bring God
Rang Rasiya is an extremely articulate film that never
gets weighed down by its inherent erudition. The thought processes
that define the age-old debate between art and freedom of
expression, are given shape in fleeting scenes of marauders
breaking down the doors at art gatherings. Scarily, the desecration
of art, and the sub-culture of moral policing are shown to be as
rampant in the 19th century when Varma took the gods out of the
elitist temples, as they are now.
Mehta never over-emphasises the point of freedom of expression.
Ironically, his lucid film often shows the artist misusing that
freedom for his own selfish benefits. There are images in the film
of destruction and creation, sometimes in the same range of vision.
And if we have Ketan Mehta to thank for bringing Raja Ravi Varma
alive, we have his cinematographer Anil Mehta, his art director
Nitin Chandrakant Desai and his music composer Sandesh Shandilya to
thank for representing the director's vision in images Acolours and
sounds that are at once scintillating and subtle.
At the centre of this masterly portrait of an artist as a
self-seeking pioneer is a passionate love story. Raja Ravi Varma's
adoration and eventual abnegation and destruction of his muse
Sugandha (Nandana Sen) is put forward in images visceral yet
vivacious. The relationship is as steeped in the tragic ethos as
the one between Devdas and Chandramukhi.
There are extremely bold sequences between the artist and the
muse, including a shot of Sugandha baring her breast for Varma's
brush strokes. Though the entire film wears a look of defiant
provocativeness, none of the film's erotic moments are gratuitous.
The director relies mostly an an understated approach to create a
bygone era. The sets are minimalist and so are the costumes. No one
is over-dressed, not even the British characters.
Floridity is anthema in Ketan Mehta's costume drama. Rather than
focus endlessly on recreating the period, the director delves into
the morality and mindsets that governed those times when prudery
was frequently a disguise for hypocrisy. Mehta strips through the
veil of double-speak. The dialogues between Raja Ravi Varma and the
vanguards of organised Hindu religion are barbed acerbic and
Wondrously, the film is never weighed down by pontification and
verbosity. Painted in the distinguished yet disembodied colours of
humanism, Rang Rasiya brings to vivacious life the very compelling
love, lust and defiant art of Raja Ravi Varma.
Standing tall at the centre of Mehra's magnificent treatise of
the artist and the morality of the times is Randeep Hooda. He lives
and breathes life into Raja Ravi Varma's character. Admittedly some
of Hooda's expressions are way too wry and cynical to be convincing
in the 19th century. But overall he gets every aspect of the
Luckily, Randeep has some outstanding co-stars who prop up his
performance without patronising the protagonist's passion. Nandana
Sen as Raja Ravi Varma's muse peels off all the coyness to portray
a Fallen Woman who is deified through the artist's art. She has two
extremely moving monologues which she delivers with
Gaurav Dwivedi as the narrator and Ravi Raja Varma's
overshadowed sibling, Jim Boeven as Varma's German ally and friend,
and the lovely Freyna Wazheir as a Parsi admirer, stand out in the
One of my favourite moments in the film is between the
ever-reliable Sachin Khedeker and Randeep where Varma, demoralised
by the turn of tides in his life is told to smile and welcome a new
A masterpiece by any reckoning, Rang Rasiya has a dazzling
display of colour, desire, erotica, drama and emotions. This is
Mehta's most intricately woven and enchantingly textured drama
since "Mirch Masala".
Among the many startling ideas that emerge from Mehta's majestic
exploration of religion, art, sex and the male ego is the one
suggesting that Dada Saheb Phalke's dream of making a film was
funded by Raja Ravi Varma.
Thank god and Varma, then, for the birth of Indian cinema. And
thank god and cinema for Ketan Mehta, who lives to tell the
If you love art and cinema, and cinema as art, then don't miss
Check out the opinion of viewers about the movie along with some
raunchy scenes from the movie...
Finally #RangRasiya released. My Favourite #KetanMehta has
created another Masterpiece all Art Lover Would bless him after
#RangRasiya is very well directed by Ketan. Brilliant
performances by @RandeepHooda and gorgeous @nandanadevsen a muse
played so well.
dont miss #RangRasiya its a period film with present
vision.relevant for our time.thanks @ketanmaya @RandeepHooda
Ashoke Pandit @ashokepandit 13h13 hours ago
Watching Ketan Mehta's Rang Rasiya. A brilliantly made film.A
visual treat. Brilliant performances. #RangRasiya
Raja Ravi Varmas' is a great story to tell- go watch ketan's
#RangRasiya and you will know why
Some stories need 2b told
#RangRasiya is 1 such
Learnt a lot of what I actually should've known
Like Dadasaheb Phalke was Ravi Varma's Asst!
A beautiful movie #RangRasiya must watch.
#RangRasiya. Fantastic Film in all Respects. @RandeepHooda
@nandanadevsen gave Top Notch Performances. 4*/5*
#RangRasiya must be watched to know the story of Raja Ravi
Varma. Randeep Hooda is simply outstanding in the film!!!
#RangRasiya - what an excellent movie after a long time.
#RandeepHooda is superb.