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The film throws up the perennial debate on freedom of expression in art versus the charge of obscenity through the depiction of the life of legendary painter Raja Ravi Verma.The issue was and probably is,whether depiction of semi nude female form can be considered as a form of art.
The events in the film had taken place many years back but the film still had its share of censor problems.So much for the freedom of expression at the present times.On the other hand how do you clear scenes where the painter and his muse are splashing colours on each other's bare bodies and romancing away on the rocks under the waterfalls and wind up entwined ( almost).Could be soft porn for some while creative artistic freedom for the other. And the debate goes on.
During the debate in the court,there is also the talk of this country being the land of Ajanta Ellora, Khajuraho and Kama sutra. So what's new?
The movie traces the life of the painter and the obstacles faced by him as he paints the female form and Goddesses in a manner not liked by the orthodox community.His bohemian life style also comes under fire.He is dragged to court and his muse is humiliated.
No doubt Director Ketan Mehta gives a lyrical, soft focused,colourful hue to the film. The scenes get unraveled in a theatrical manner sometimes convincing ,sometimes not. Whether the sexually oriented sequences are meant to titillate or are an aesthetic presentation is difficult to say.The songs are picturised well.
Two sequences are interesting. One where the first show of cinema is held and the audience gets scared on seeing the scene of an oncoming train, and we are introduced to young Phalke( later the great Dada Saheb Phalke). Another scene is when Gangadhar Tilak thunders " Swaraj hamara janam siddha adhikar hai" at a meeting, our painter is busy flirting with the damsel across the aisle.
In the acting area Randeep Hooda seems to be an apt choice for the main role and he does justice. He is topless in most of the scenes and this probably helps him to project the character he plays. Nandana Sen exudes sensuality and oomph in ample measure as required. Supporting cast is adequate with no one standing out.
Music helps the film in setting the ambiance. Photography is a plus point of the film with a number of well shot scenic sequences specially the outdoors.