A late evening with Krishen Khanna

What may have been another mundane weekday evening  in the city was alive and abuzz at Ashvita Bistro. Ashvita, a popular hangout spot, on Thursday held a captive audience for over 70 minutes during the screening of A far afternoon – A painted saga by Krishen Khanna. The documentary directed by Ashvita’s own Sruti Hari drew a rather large crowd of art and documentary enthusiasts.

For those who did not know the man and the artist Krishen Khanna, the documentary provided a little  insight into his a life and works. Krishen Khanna, a rather underrated genius among his more illustrious friends like M.F. HussainAkbar Padamsee, could easily have been a pioneer of Indian Modernist art.

The documentary, divided into a five parts, allowed the audience more than a fly on the wall perspective on the functioning and creative process of the artist himself. Krishen Khanna’s ‘A Far Afternoon’, which is 20-feet, is the painter’s largest work on canvass. It, however, may be dwarfed in comparison to what could be considered Krishen’s Sistine ChapelThe Maurya Mural.

A Far Afternoon depicts scenes from a traditional Indian Bharaat where every person – from the visitors to the band waalas – play an important role as individuals. Based entirely on memories and latent thoughts of the artist, each stroke is the embodiment of an emotional and artistic journey for Krishen.

The background music of the documentary sticks to a traditional score. “We decided the background score based on two raagas that Krishen said had inspired him. But, as you can see, Krishen is not through and through traditional. He is greatly inspired by Western Literature. So we chose a cello instead of the usual Indian stringed instruments for the music,” says Sruti.

The documentary, though slightly rough around the cinematographic edges, is engaging and thought provoking in many way, even to those who are not inclined to arts.