Film Captures Making of A Mega-Painting
By Akhila Damodaran | Published: 17th November 2015 06:07 AM |
VASANTHNAGAR:A private screening of the documentary A Far Afternoon was held at National Gallery of Modern Art recently.
It tracks the development of a 20-foot artwork by Krishen Khanna. Sruti Harihara Subramanian, actor and model, speaks to City Express about her debut as director.
What is the film about?
It is about Krishen Khanna, a pioneering modern artist. He is 90, and part of the Progressive art group of which M F Hussain was also a member. The group revolutionised Indian art. He has created a 20-foot work to show a journey, the largest canvas of his career. It shows a wedding procession with lots of characters -- the bride, groom, guests -- and there’s a dhaba in a corner. It has a lot of stories to tell. The documentary shows how it was developed. It also talks about his art and life.
Why is the film named A Far Afternoon?
It shows a daytime wedding on a bright sunny day. Krishen Khanna has taken this phrase from a poem by Conrad Aiken and named his artwork. We named the film after his artwork.
What kind of work did you have to put in before shooting?
My team and I researched the artist. We saw his interviews. We met him a few times and visited his studio. We kept following him, capturing every moment.
How has your experience been as a debut director?
We had to take decisions on the spot for certain situations. There were highs and lows. I learnt a lot on the professional and personal fronts. I spent time with him and his family and learnt about art and living. I have been working on mainstream commercial films. They are different from documentaries. I had to unlearn everything I learned in commercial film making. You have a script and actors ready in a fiction film, and the shots can be edited. A documentary is the reverse. You need to finish filming it and then edit it.
Why did you choose to work on Krishen Khanna? What inspired you?
It is a commissioned work. Piramal Art Foundation in Mumbai got to know about his latest work. Not too many people have seen how an artwork is developed. Documentary films usually interview artists and show their art.
How was your experience?
Krishen Khanna is so active even at 90. He is independent and passionate about his work. He paints every day. He also exchanges his ideas and thoughts with his peers. People usually do not share their creative thoughts with others because of the competition. But he says the more you share, the more you learn.
In the artist’s words
I had no idea this painting would grow to this size. I began with the groom on a white mare, accompanied with an even more inexperienced youngster seated behind him fearfully clutching the groom. This image became pivotal for this work. The choice of colours and the tone of each expanding form was determined by what had already been set down.
It seemed to me that the expanding shapes and colours were attaining a life of their own. The painting, as it developed, was growing out of its own inevitability. It was as if I had abandoned myself to forces beyond me. — Krishen Khanna