Varma & the Milkmaid

Ravivarma’s pantings have always fascinated me. I remember many a print on the walls of our house & various relative’s houses, especially the Pooja rooms. His paintings mostly reminds one of buxom healthy women and various Indian epics… I had seen many originals in the Shree Chitra Gallery in Trivandrum, but they were when I was not old enough to appreciate art. Since then I read about his interesting life. My interest has not waned, like his paintings have not either, in the public mind.

My favorite – the Milkmaid watercolor




Obviously this picture has a huge fan following and two of them apparently are Sunil Babu (Cine art director) & Santhosh Sivan (the famed cine photographer). They got Kavya Madhavan to pose like the original in the song 'Pinakkamano' for the movie Anathabhadram - a song which portrays five or so of Ravi Varma’s famous paintings.



But, who is that girl (as the Madonna song goes)? The model above is said to be Sugunabai, a lady of Goan Marathi background - Ravi Varma’s muse. They had a fascinating relationship, probably way beyond platonic. The story is classic,

and two filmmakers are already fighting over who brings it to screen first. One of them has Shaji Karun involved (Madhuri is not acting in it though – Ajay Devgan is probably the one playing Ravi Varma). The Mumbaikar’s in those days, went up in arms against Ravi Varma over his picturisation of Suguna, especially those undraped paintings depicting various goddesses, and a case was filed in the Bombay courts against Varma. As no barrister would fight the case, Varma had to fight the case himself and, believe it or not, he won… But tragedy struck, Suguna, they say, left him, where, how…etc I do not know. Hopefully the movie research will bring the story out correctly without too many embellishments, of the times Ravi Varma spent in Maharashtra (Ghatkopar & Malavli) – between 1890 -1901 & the Chitrashala press..Finally he sold it all to his German technician Schleizer for Rs 25,000/- and went back to Kilimanoor.

Nevertheless, Suguna’s picture as the milkmaid remain in many a heart…Just look at her eyes!! Kavya in contrast presents a beauty with slight bitterness in her eyes, not longing & sorrow.
As it seems, after Suguna left Varma, he never painted a goddess again.

For those who want a quick look at Ravi Varma’s paintings, check this site out.

However this site (covering Oleo’s & Lithographs only) seems to be a treasure trove. You can even pick up some of the old calendars that we have in Kerala houses.

Guys & gals - Blogger tells me that this is my 100-th post - Hope I have not bored you all with all this lengthy prose during in the last 10 months ......

Comments

humbl devil said…
as they say..to reproduce a masterpiece you need the master himself...
true...
no one else can do justice...
you seem to have a wonderful blog here...
will be back for more...
:)
humbl devil said…
and congratulations on your 100th post...
diyadear said…
maddy,
congrats on ur 100th post.. u sure r doing a very gud job here.. this post was very informative..
Anonymous said…
Great work Mady, keep it up. mohan
harimohan said…
Dear maddy,
read your 100th post and thus moved on to see ravi varmas galleries ,a delight ,iam a great admirer of the genius prince and to know that he had as colouful a life as his paintings is intreating ,your 100th post is great and i would get back after reading the others ,happy writing
hari
Red Soul said…
The pic is very beautiful, very art-y. I am getting to read more and more about Indian culture, art, artists, and I am feeling prouder than ever. Being a Maharashtrian and living in the USA, I am moved by a single mention of "marathi" or related words... It gives pleasure to see directors working to put such art into flesh..... its disheartening to only see worse scripts and worsening (some) new comers.
Maddy said…
Thanks Humbl devil, harimohan and Diya

do visit often and feel free to post your comments.

Ravivarma like Swatitirunal had no issues about spreading his wings, to see and absorb other cultures..
Red Soul said…
Oh yes I am loving Viruddh. I didnt wanna miss last nights so I left the ColdStones early to reach home early. :D

Popular Posts

Head facing north

Tipu, Unniyarcha and Wodeyar – truth or fiction?

The Monsoons of Kerala

Kuriyedathu Thathriyude SmartaVicharam

The Kohinoor Diamond