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The Mystic Melody: A Day in the Golden Desert- Paresh Maity

Leading contemporary artist Paresh Maity has made his screen debut as a filmmaker with an 18-minute landscape docu-feature "The Mystic Melody: A Day in the Golden Desert".

The film, being shown at the Lalit Kala Akademi here that is hosting his exhibition "The World On A Canvas" spanning two decades of his work, is a "new beginning", says the artist. It is an addition to his artistic repertoire and features as an exhibit.

"I always wanted to shoot a movie. And 'The Mystic Melody...' is the beginning. I want to make big films," Maity told IANS in an informal chat.

"I will make three feature films in the near future in India. The plots and the locales are in place. They will be abstract movies related to my art. I have been visiting the sites where I want to shoot for the past 25 years to understand the ways of life in the areas concerned, the local people and the artistic milieus. I wanted to make movies 25 years ago - but the process and the concept took time to absorb," he said.

The exhibition is also responsible for Maity's "diversification of genre".

Maity, 45, has been working with celebrated Kolkata-based photographer Nemai Ghosh - filmmaker Satyjait Ray's photographer - for the last five years. He also collaborated with Bollywood thespian Sharmila Tagore for an artistic biography also called "The World On A Canvas", for which the actress wrote the text.

"I will concentrate on movies now," Maity said. "But painting will not be relegated. The format of my works have grown larger over the years. I paint mammoth canvases in oil and movies are a natural progression. I have a RED digital movie camera, one of the costliest in the world," the artist said.

Maity, who started as a landscape painter in the 1980s after graduating from the Government College of Art, Kolkata, switched to figures in 1990.

"I started painting figures in 1990 when I travelled out of Kolkata to Rajasthan. The sights, sounds and colours of the desert state influenced my style. My works became more colourful and figure-oriented," he said.

Some of Maity's best canvases at the exhibition have been painted in Venice, Egypt, Mexico and Varanasi.

"In 1993, I got a scholarship to study works of landscape painters John Constable and Joseph Turner in Venice. I saved some money and followed in their footsteps to paint at the Vatican. I painted over 100 canvases in Venice," the artist said, explaining his obsession with Venice.

Photographer Nemai Ghosh, who "likes Maity's maiden screen project", feels that the "artist himself is an engaging subject for photography".

"I travelled with Paresh to Shantiniketan, Tamluk, Talsari, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, London and Venice- photographing him as he worked. I shot in black and white to capture his mood and the ambience. I have not used a flash at any stage of the project - and have never tried using one in the 40 years of my life as a photographer," said Ghosh.

Nearly 25 photographs of Maity at work shot by Ghosh are on display at the Lalit Kala Akademi as part of the retrospective exhibition.(IANS)

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