India/Switzerland, 2010, 75 min
Nainsukh (circa 1710–1778) came from a family of painters that settled in Guler in the northern hills of India. Growing up in an atmosphere of bold experimentation, Nainsukh enthusiastically took to the fluent naturalism of Mughal painting, notably setting his own artwork apart from the idealized approach to portraiture adopted by other Indian miniaturists of his time. Around 1740, he entered the service of Raja Balwant Dev Singh of Jasrota and was given rare entrée into the prince’s life, which included horse riding in the countryside, enjoying performances by court musicians, smoking a hookah, hunting and carnal pleasures. During this period, through the coming together of a sophisticated patron and a greatly gifted painter, a compelling body of work emerged, rendered in a very individual, delicate way and imbued with heart-warming humanity. Amit Dutta painstakingly recreates Nainsukh’s brilliant miniatures through sumptuous compositions set amid the ruins of the Jasrota palace as well as the splendid hilly surroundings. By harmoniously juxtaposing the gorgeous visuals with outstanding sound design, the filmmaker produces a unique work of art—a living painting itself—that stands on its own. He breathes new life into the old creations by accentuating their timelessness, reviving the intimacy of the grand worlds of the past through the time-defying medium of cinema.
In Kangri and Dogri with subtitles. This is a World Cinema Spotlight film. Presented in association with Asian Art Museum. North American Premiere.