In ‘Gandharvan- Two legends and a painting', Akhil Sathyan captures delightful moments between Mohanlal and Namboodiri as they talk about art and their history.

Painter Namboodiri on the left and actor Mohanlal on the right looking at the phone together.Screengrab/YouTube
Flix Documentary Sunday, March 28, 2021 - 12:29

Akhil Sathyan’s short documentary film Gandharvan- Two legends and a painting celebrates art and two highly respected artists, in their own right. The seven-and-a-half-minute documentary features conversations during a meeting between actor Mohanlal and artist Namboodiri, who have known each other for many years.  During the interaction, stories are shared from the past, and the making of the mythical painting ‘Gandharvan’ is tracked. 

The documentary starts with artist KM Vasudevan, better known as Namboodiri, who talks about his first meeting with Mohanlal in Chennai’s Cholamandal Artists’ Village many years ago. We then see Mohanlal talking about his interest in art forms such as music and sketching. He says that although he has tried his hand at various art forms, he now sees himself as a “custodian of artworks”.  

Mohanlal also talks about how he has commissioned and collected many paintings over the years and regarding his first collaboration with Namboodiri. They had worked together when the actor had commissioned him to paint a scene based on a verse from the Sanskrit literary work ‘Saundarya Lahari’. 

Now, the two legends have come together again to create the painting of ‘Gandharvan’, a celestial being.  

The interpretation of Gandharvas varies from one religious text to another. But in Hinduism, Gandharvas are considered as male angel-like figures, who possessed remarkable musical skills. According to mythological texts, Gandharvas served as messengers between gods 

Mohanlal, who commissioned the painting of ‘Gandharvan’, explains that they drew inspiration for the painting from the Hindu mythological figure Kamadeva, who is considered as the god of love and desire. He adds that as Namboodiri started exploring the subject further and working on the painting, they arrived at ‘Gandharvan’. 

At the age of 96, Namboodiri has created this life-size painting of ‘Gandharvan’, using a subtle yet contrasting colour palette, which is surrounded by an aura of mystery and serenity.

Since the documentary was released on March 22, the makers have been showered with praise from all quarters. The film has already racked up 55,000 views on YouTube.  

The recipient of the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi Award, Kerala State Film Award (for art direction) and Raja Ravi Varma Award, the prolific painter Namboodiri continues to serve as an icon for art lovers across the globe. 

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