PEN, Maya Movies Pvt. Ltd. and Infinity Filmed Entertainment’s Rang Rasiya (A) is a biopic on celebrated painter Raja Ravi Varma. It is based on Ranjit Desai’s novel, Raja Ravi Varma, on the noted painter who gave faces to the various Gods and Goddesses of the Hindus.
Raja Ravi Varma (Randeep Hooda) invites the wrath of one section of religious heads when he commercialises Hindu religion and begins to sell pictures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses by printing lakhs of copies of his paintings. The untouchables and lower caste people are very happy because they are now able to pray in front of the pictures of the Gods. Before this, they were never allowed inside temples and had no idol or painting to pray in front of.
All hell also breaks loose when it is revealed that Ravi Varma’s muse, Sugandha (Nandana Sen), is a lady of easy virtues and the mistress of a rich man. Matters only worsen when it emerges that the face in the pictures of the Goddesses in Raja Ravi Varma’s priceless paintings has been inspired by Sugandha’s face. Fundamentalists set on fire the printing press where mass production of Ravi Varma’s paintings happens, because of which Govardhan Das (Paresh Rawal), the funding partner of the printing press, threatens to withdraw from the partnership. To save the business, Ravi Varma mortgages all his paintings with Govardhan Das, including a few paintings of Sugandha standing in a semi-nude state. The unscrupulous Govardhan Das prints those semi-nude paintings in large numbers and puts the copies in the market with a view to making profits but this also becomes the subject matter of the court case filed against Raja Ravi Varma by religious fundamentalists. Sugandha, who is horrified by the mass replication of her semi-nude paintings, which were only for Ravi Varma’s personal collection, is also dragged in as a witness in the court.
What happens thereafter? Does Raja Ravi Varma win the court case? Does Sugandha testify in court against the painter?
The story is not very exciting or engaging. Ketan Mehta and Sanjeev Dutta have penned a screenplay which doesn’t really make the film very commercial. Since Raja Ravi Varma and Sugandha are the ‘hero’ and the ‘heroine’ of the drama, the audience expects them to behave in a certain manner. However, the viewers feel very let down by Ravi Varma’s behaviour at several places. For one, when he leaves his wife for objecting to his proximity to the maid, Kamini, the audience feels, he has taken too harsh a decision. Again, it is so uncharacteristic of a hero to give away all his paintings to Govardhan Das as mortgage including the semi-nude paintings of Sugandha which were meant for personal consumption, but Ravi Varma does exactly that. Worse still, rather than admitting his mistake, he shamelessly tells Sugandha that she posed topless for his paintings of her own accord and was not forced by him to do so, when she comes crying to him. This behaviour of the hero shocks the audience and leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Even though he is speaking the truth, the least he could’ve done was to stand by Sugandha. His comment makes it look like he wants to wash his hands off the scandal.
Frankly, the film appears like a docu-drama which does not engage the audience. What’s also disturbing is the fact that the viewers feel for neither Raja Ravi Varma nor Sugandha. Dialogues (Sanjeev Dutta) are okay but not outstanding.
Randeep Hooda does a fine job in the role of Raja Ravi Varma. He makes the character of the painter very believable. Nandana Sen looks beautiful and acts with effortless ease. She exposes her anatomy very aesthetically. Paresh Rawal plays the unscrupulous Govardhan Das with aplomb, in a special appearance. Darshan Jariwala is effective. Vikram Gokhale does a superb job as the lawyer. Tom Alter is nice as the judge. Jim Boeven leaves a mark in the role of Fritz. Suhasini Mulay is natural. Prashant Narayanan makes his presence felt in a guest appearance. Vipin Sharma is excellent in a role which hardly gives him any dialogues. His body language and expressions are first-rate. Ferena Wazeir (as Frenny) is endearing. Rashaana Shah is good in the role of Kamini. Sameer Dharmadhikari has his moments as Sayaji Rao Gaekwad. Sachin Khedekar, Ashish Vidyar- thi (guest appearance), Shree Vallabh Vyas and Gaurav Dwivedi (as Raj Varma) provide excellent support. Chirag Vorah is lovely as Phalke. Rajat Kapoor (in a guest appearance as the auctioneer), master Yashvardhan Kumar (as young Ravi Varma), master Anupam (as young Raj Varma), Tripta Parashar (as Poorutarthy) and the others are adequate.
Ketan Mehta’s direction, like the film’s script, caters to a very thin section of the audience which, in filmi parlance, is referred to as the gentry audience. The large base of mass audience would not find the drama and its narration interesting enough. Sandesh Shandilya’s music goes well with the mood of the film. A couple of songs are rather appealing. Manoj Muntashir’s lyrics are appropriate to the film. Choreography (by Pappu-Mallu and Prasanna) is average. Cinematography (by Rali Baltchev and Cristo Bakalov) is of a very good standard. Nitin Chandrakant Desai’s production designing is very fine. Editing (by Pratik Chitalia) is alright.
On the whole, Rang Rasiya is too class-appealing to make any impact at the box-office. Flop.