Rang Rasiya is an Indian drama film based on the life of the 19th-century Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma during British Raj.
Raja Ravi Varma (29 April 1848 – 5 October 1906) was an Indian painter and artist from the princely state of Travancore (presently in southern Kerala & some parts of Tamil Nadu) who achieved recognition for his paintings depicting scenes from Indian literature and mythology including the epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana. He is considered among the greatest painters in the history of Indian art and his paintings are considered to be among the best examples of the fusion of Indian traditions with the techniques of European academic art . Varma's paintings portrayed sari-clad women in graceful manner which became an important motif of that time, reproductions being found in many homes.
As narrated in novel "Raja Ravi Verma" by Ranjit Singh, There was a woman called Sugandha Bai who became inspiration for Raja Ravi Verma to paint gods and goddesses as human beings. Once Ravi Verma saw this beautiful lady Sugandha Bai in a temple worshiping a Hindu God/Goddess and suddenly felt inspired. He then sketched Sugandha Bai's portrait and gifted her. Sugandha Bai got attracted towards Raja Ravi Vaerma's sketches and agreed to become her model to portrait Hindu Goddesses in his paintings.
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Speaking about her character, Sen said that "Varma saw in her Sugandha Bai the face and soul of a goddess. (For him) she is passionate, possessive and hungry for love." To portray this character, Sen was required to dress and look like a young Maharashtrian woman with long hair, light eyes, waist chain and a nose ring. In addition, she also gained five kilos for the character since she had to look voluptuous. She was helped with her familiarily with the physical patterns in Varma's paintings of women, such as, "the way they tilt their hip, the way they play with their hands. Though the film has a few scenes in which she had to expose, she chose to do it because she thought that the sensitive scene formed the story's basis. Although it was not an easy decision to take, she felt absolutely comfortable while performing the scene.
One such scene is a wide angle shot that shows a bare breast of a skimpily clad Sen. Though this scene was aesthetically shot, the Central Board of Film Certification, which regulates the ratings and certification of media in India, objected to it and ordered for a review based on consensus.