The 2011 spring in France has been a memorable for India, taking its art and cultural scene to a new high. The French government has been celebrating since the beginning of the year ‘Indian Spring in France’, with a series of events of cutting-edge contemporary and modern art, visual art by the Indian masters and dynamic performing arts.
According to Jerome Bonnafont, French ambassador, the India ‘big bang’ will last through the whole summer in Paris till autumn". A project titled, ‘Living Legends of Indian Contemporary Art’, has been one of the high points of the exquisite showcase. It consists of docu-movies on the legends like Ram Kumar, Akbar Padamsee, SH Raza and the late M.F. Husain. The four documentaries have been produced by the Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA) and directed by Laurent Bregeat. An 80-year-old, Raza sits is known for his favorite form, the bindu.
Laurent Brégeat, a Paris-based director, has deftly brought to life the life and journeys of these most iconic Indian artists through his documentaries. The one of Raza is called ‘Raza: The Very Essence’. The 55-minute video-audio film is part of the series, commissioned by the LKA.
According to its director, Ashok Vajpeyi, there is not enough documentation on Indian artists of different eras, including the Progressives. The idea has been to build an authentic record of these veterans, their life, passion for art and struggles. Each documentary brings out the elaborate life sketch of the artist in spotlight, their studios, their way of life and their vision.
Though there are ample books and other text based resources that mention most of these aspects, the films do offer critics' viewpoint, the artists’ own perspectives and a chance to watch them at work. Along with contemporaries Husain, and Francis Newton Souza, he played a key role in carving out the forward-looking and path breaking progressive art movement. The director knows Raza and others well, so he was chosen to direct the series.