Ketan Mehta's 'Rang Rasiya' to recreate Raja Ravi Verma's life

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New Delhi, Jul 16 (UNI) His filmography over the past three decades has touched upon an entire range of subjects in the palette of colours that symbolises cinema since its inception. After recreating on celluloid a wide variety of subjects and genres - from political satires ('Oh Darling Yeh Hai India') to dark thrillers ('Aar Ya Paar') to biopics ('Sardar' and 'Mangal Pandey'), Ketan Mehta is now all set to embark on another exciting and colourful cinematic journey, that of exploring the life of legendary painter Raja Ravi Verma.

Set for an early release is 'Rang Rasiya', Kenta Mehta's new directorial venture that seeks to explore the rich and colourful life of Raja Ravi Verma, whom Mehta describes as the 'Grandfather of Indian cinema', in which he marks the beginning of modern sensibilities in Indian art and literature.

''I have been fascinated by Raja Ravi Verma for a long time, infact ever since I was a student of cinema. To me, Ravi Verma is the Grandfather of Indian cinema. This is because the father of Indian cinema Dadasaheb Phalke was an apprentice under Ravi Verma.

Infact, Dadasaheb Phalke was influenced by mythologies produced by Hollywood and Ravi Verma's paintings inspired him to create the look for Indian mythologies,'' Mehta told UNI in an interview here.

Says Mehta, whose 'Rang Rasiya' was scheduled to be screened at the ongoing Tenth Osians Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab cinema as its Centrepiece before a last minute glitch led to it being replaced by Wang Kar Wai's 'My Blueberry Nights', ''for me, Ravi Verma marks the beginning of the popular art in India. He was a visionary in the sense that he brought technology to our art. So, in a sense, he united India even before the politics of Congress and Gandhi did. Infact, the entire iconography of Goddess Saraswati, Laxmi today is derived from Ravi Verma's paintings.'' Featuring actor Randeep Hooda in the central role of the legendary painter and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen's daughter Nandana Sen as the painter's muse, 'Rang Rasiya' is scheduled for a worldwide release in September this year.

On his choice of Randeep for the lead role, Mehta said, ''Randeep is a brilliant actor. I saw a film of his and immediately got fascinated by the actor. Having worked with him now, I can say he is a dedicated actor. He has done a good job of playing the character of Ravi Verma.'' The music of the film has been scored by Sandesh Shandaliya while the sets have been designed by Nitin Desai.

Asked why he chose to cast lesser known actors like Randeep and Nandana, especially after having worked with top actors like Aamir Khan and Rani Mukherjee in his last film 'Mangal Pandey', Mehta said, ''I have worked with a variety of actors all my life.

Shahrukh's first film was with me - a film called 'Maya Memsahab, an adaptation of French novel 'Madam Bovary'. Aamir's first film 'Holi' too was with me that he did in the 80s when he was just a college kid. So, yes I have worked with newcomers as well as established actors.'' ''For example, I worked with Naseeruddin Shah and Smita Patil when they were newcomers. And I also worked with them when they were established actors. The choice of actor really depends the kind of script, the kind of project you want to make and the kind of films you want to make.'' Asked to put his film into a particular category, Mehta said,''I don't believe in categories like art or commercial cinema. Dividing cinema into categories, I feel, is counter-productive. Every film has a lot of time and money going into it. So, it is unfair to categorise it into art and commercial cinema. It is not a painting that one makes by oneself and be happy about it. It is meant to be seen by a wide audience.

I feel that for Indian cinema to flower, we need to demolish these boundaries and make sure that each film is valued, appreciated and seen for what it is worth. The moment you label it you destroy a part of the value of the film.

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