Fenil and Bollywood

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Santosh Sivan to play renowned Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma in Malayalam film Magara Manju
By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; November 04, 2009)


Even as the fate of Ketan Mehta’s Rang Rasiya, based on Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma’s love life remains uncertain, cinematographer-director Santosh Sivan has quietly signed a Malayalam film where he plays the painter. The film is titled Magara Manju (meaning winter mist) and will be dubbed in Hindi and English. The film’s shooting begins next week in Cochin and will be directed by art house director Lenin Rajendran.

 

Santosh Sivan and Karthika in the first look of Magara Manju

Santosh, whose hands are full with cinematography and direction assignments, was at first hesitant to act in the film. He says, “Director Lenin Rajendran convinced me that I was right for the part. The main attraction for turning to acting is Raja Ravi Varma himself. I empathise very closely with his art as I’ve grown up with it. When I was a kid, my grandmother illustrated her stories with Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings. I also paint a bit. I think I’ve acquired my visual aesthetics from this man. I was also Director of Photography for M F Husain’s Gaja Gamini and his son Owais’s Meenaxi: Tale of 3 Cities.”

Santosh’s co-star in the film is the new South sensation Karthika . He says, “Karthika is the daughter of veteran Tamil actress Radha. I sort of like the way we look together.”

The film will also be shot in Trivandrum and Goa. Incidentally, the only other occasion when Santosh Sivan has acted was in Aditya Bhattacharya’s Raakh (1989). “After my shot, Pankaj Kapur (who was also acting in the film) couldn’t stop laughing (at his bad performance),” recalls Santosh with a chuckle.

Epic story

There is a growing interest in the life of Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), who is famous for his paintings based on Indian mythology and epics. First, Ketan Mehta took it upon himself to portray the love life of Raja Ravi Varma in Rang Rasiya. Randeep Hooda plays the painter while Nandana Sen plays his muse. Then Malayalam film, Magara Manju, has Santosh Sivan playing Raja Ravi Varma. A book on the life of painter called, The Painter: A Life of Ravi Varma by Deepanjana Pal, Mumbai-based art critic is expected to hit the shelves soon.

 

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