Ravivarma was the first to usher in a humanistic revolution in Indian
visual sensibility. His gods, modelled on men and women from the
society around him, became the icons in the prayer rooms of millions
of Indian lower caste people. This multitude was for centuries denied
entry into the hindu temples, which were exclusive centres of
classical the classical art tradition too, for centuries. This revolution through art, has fascinated me.
Another aspect of Ravivarma's art that attracted me was the way in
which he portrayed the women of Indian legends. He always chose to
depict dramatic moments, foregrounding the agony and solitude of these
women, who suffer as mere pawns in the power play of a male dominated
world. The paintings depicting Sita, Draupadi, Urvashi, Menaka and Tilottama are examples. These paintings were done much before Indian writers started experimenting with such subaltern readings of epics.
The path breaking efforts of Ravivarma had encountered serious
resistance from the conservative society. His personal life, and his
relations with his models were also quite turbulent. To go deeper into
the mind of such a creative artist, I have chosen to interweave
moments from his life with the story of Pururavas and Urvashi, which
is the subject of one of his paintings. This structure evolved from my
effort to find a way to express the turmoils of a creative mind, where
the interplay of reality and fantasy, contemporaneity and tradition
gave rise to creations of exquisite beauty and feeling.