This new play looks at the life and work of painter Amrita Sher-Gil
Two years ago, theatre director Ranji David visited Chitrakala Parishath and chanced upon a six-month painting course. With no background in art, he delved deep into the form and in the end, had an exhibition to his name, and also conceived his upcoming production, Amrita Sher-Gil: A devised theatre performance. “I had planned to do something on Raja Ravi Varma, but I was so inspired by Amrita’s life that this took shape,” Ranji reveals.
Amrita, who died at the age of 28, was an iconoclast and made an impact on the world with her ground-breaking pieces, such as South Indian Villagers Going to Market, Village Scene (which sold for 6.9 crores, the highest amount ever paid for a painting in India then) and Hungarian Gypsy Girl. Her style blended Western and Indian art forms, and she is often referred to as the Indian Frida Kahlo.
For research, Ranji reached out to museums in Hungary where some of Amrita’s work was exhibited back when she was alive. He also read her biography, written by Yashoda Dalmia. “I actually had so much information, that to compress the whole thing into an hour-long production was a challenge,” says Ranji.
The production is movement based, with very little dialogue. “We have 36 actors, who will also be painting live on the stage. Six Bharatnatyam dancers will tell the story through symbolism as well,” explains Ranji. It also includes installations and digital projections. The plot follows the life of the painter from her birth in Hungary, to her life in India and her eventual mysterious death in 1941. “Some say Amrita’s husband murdered her for having an affair, others say a failed abortion was responsible for her death. We, in the play, have left it open ended for the audience to decide,” he signs of.
May 27, 8 pm. At ADA Ranga Mandira, JC Road. Tickets (Rs. 200) on bookmyshow.com