You have never looked to Bollywood for movies that reflect reality accurately, have you? But isn’t that the very reason you love indulging in the over-the-top theatrics, song and dance numbers and ridiculously far-fetched plot twists that they bring with them. When it comes to the world of art, it seems far removed from the mainstream appeal of Bollywood. But Artflute is here to prove that wrong! We bring you six movies in which art goes mainstream and is as Bollywood as it can get!
Taare Zameen Par – Art as therapy, art as language and art as expression, this movie has it all. The award-winning movie that has Aamir Khan’s stamp all over it deals with a dyslexic child, Ishaan who fares poorly at school and is constantly berated by his father and his teachers. Despite his internal world being rich, deep and beautiful, he finds himself unable to express this to the people around him. The movie explores the blossoming of Ishaan and his incredible artistic talent under the sensitive tutoring of his drawing teacher, Ram Shankar Nikumbh.
The swirling, multi-hued colours on Ishaan’s canvas reflecting his view of himself as a solitary boy sitting alone by a river and watching the fish swim by, is particularly heartbreaking. It becomes his submission for a painting competition in which famous artist, Lalitha Lajmi, plays herself as the judge of the competition.
It is also art that ultimately frees Ishaan and shows him the possibility of a wonderful future through Nikumbh’s painting of Ishaan as a carefree and happy child.
Roy– When we’re talking about art in movies, can the subject of art heists be far behind? Ranbir Kapoor plays the titular character of Roy who is an international art thief who has been eluding the police for years now. One of his missions is to steal a painting that is owned by a beautiful woman, Tia. He orchestrates a meeting with Tia at an art auction and love soon blossoms.
During one of the nights that Roy spends at Tia’s house, he steals the painting and vanishes. This time however, things are different for him. Roy realises that he has fallen in love with Tia and returns the painting to her.
All is forgiven as Tia and Roy are back together. This story plays out in parallel to the love story of the director, Kabir of the movie.
Dil Chahta Hai – Now considered a cult classic, Dil Chahta Hai is a story of the lives of three friends. Akshaye Khanna plays a young artist, Sid who is irresistibly drawn to his neighbour Tara, an older woman and alcoholic, played by Dimple Kapadia. They hit it off and and slowly, Tara shares details of her difficult past with him. Love blossoms and Sid begs Tara to allow him to paint her portrait. The love song Kaisi Hai Ye Ruth speaks of Sid’s love for Tara as he paints her portrait. An elegant Dimple, bold brushstrokes, tubes of paint, the ever-present canvas and Akshaye Khanna as the sensitive lover made this soulful song an instant hit.
Dhobi Ghat – A lyrical and melancholic movie, it traces the intersecting lives of four people – Munna, a washer-man and rat-killer who wants to become an actor; Shai, a banker-turned-photographer; Arun, a painter looking for inspiration, and Yasmin, a newly-married woman who journals about her life on video. Aamir plays Arun, a talented and emotionally distant artist.
Art is what draws Arun and Shai together and Arun’s life as an artist finds mention in the movie, with details such as a forthcoming exhibition and a gallery opening in Sydney. Arun is fascinated by the video diaries of a new bride and migrant to the city that he discovers in the apartment he moves into and they become the subject of a series of paintings by Arun.
Kiran Rao, whose directorial debut this is, calls the city of Mumbai the fifth character in the movie. Sure enough, Arun’s paintings, Shai’s black-and-white photos and Yasmin’s video diaries, slowly draw you into the multiple contradictions, the soul and the character of the city and the dreams of its many inhabitants. It’s Aamir again, playing a painter in his wife Kiran Rao’s directorial debut.
Ittefaq – An oldie but a goldie, Ittefaq has Rajesh Khanna playing an artist whose wife resents the time he spends on his paintings. During the course of an argument in which she snatches his brushes away from him, he kills her in a fit of rage. He is arrested and sent for psychiatric evaluation. Thus begins the songless, taut and gripping thriller directed by Yash Chopra that was way ahead of its time. It played in movie halls without an interval and won Yash Chopra the Filmfare award for best director.
Titanic – Though this list is one of Bollywood movies, Titanic gets an honorable mention because India wasn’t immune to its epic romance and it had as many manic fans here as in any other country. The most famous scene in the movie is one in which Rose Dawson, played by Kate Winslet asks Jack, Leonardo DiCaprio to paint her naked while she wears only a giant blue diamond on a chain. The sketch takes the story ahead as Rose’s fiancé, Cal discovers the sketch and Rose’s mocking note rejecting him.
What’s interesting about this scene is that the hands that are shown sketching the naked Rose are that of the director James Cameron. It was he who drew the sketch as well as all the other sketches that Jack carried around aboard the ship.
Paintings do have a purpose in movies- they bring lovers together, trigger arrests, heal the emotionally troubled and help characters express what they otherwise couldn’t. In the spirit of Bollywood and all things art, write to us with your favourite movie picks in which art is more mainstream than we think!