Contribution to Books
Although the Indian artist Ravi Varma (1948-1906) was much celebrated during his lifetime, and not quite forgotten after his death in 1906, in the last decade there has been a true revival of interest in his life and work. In 2008 Ketan Mehta directed a Hindi film Rang Rasiya (Colours of Passion) based on the life of the celebrated Indian painter.1 Another fictionalized biographical sketch of the artist, this time in book form, The Painter: A Life of Ravi Varma by Deepanjana Pal, followed in 2009 and was directed towards a broad audience. In 2010 a more scholarly treatment of Varma’s life and work was published under the title Raja Ravi Varma: Painter of Colonial India; it was written by Rupika Chawla, who had curated a major retrospective of the artist in 1993 at the National Museum in Delhi. This exhibition had provided a major impetus for the reconsideration of the artist’s work in the annals of modern Indian art. A second film on his life and work in Malayalam followed in 2010; entitled Makaramanju (The Mist of Capricorn) and directed by Lenin Rajendran it was then dubbed in Tamil as Apsaras (2011). 2013 marked the arrival of an English translation of a romantic Marathi biography (Raja Ravi Varma, 2013) by the writer Ranjit Desai. It was this publication that served as the source of both the films produced on Ravi Varma.
This is an author-produced, peer-reviewed version of this article. The final, definitive version of this document can be found in The Mediatization of the Artist, published by Palgrave Macmillian. Copyright restrictions may apply.
Dinkar, Niharika. (2018). "Mythologies of the Artist in Modern India: Cinema, Melodrama and Ravi Varma". The Mediatization of the Artist, 215-232.