Ritu Varma talks about how learning to sketch and paint, during the lockdown, has helped her calm down and why she feels that the process of painting is akin to filmmaking.
The outbreak of Covid-19, and the subsequent lockdown, has turned quite a few people to revisit their hobbies and interests. While some have taken a keen interest in cooking & baking, few others have a new found love for gardening and music. And then, there’s art in all its forms. There’s clearly a pattern here. All these hobbies are, in a way, a coping mechanism to find peace in little things in life, and some actors confess that they have found an overwhelming sense of calmness and peace while pursuing the aforementioned hobbies. It was one such conversation which this writer had with actress Ritu Varma about how her life is these days that led to her sharing her art work, especially the portraits that she has been trying to sketch and paint in the past few months.
Talking about her life these days, Ritu Varma says, “I’m really fond of cooking and I try to help my mother in the kitchen as much as I can. It’s my stress buster and it keeps me occupied. 2020 started so well for me in terms of work. I came back from the UK after shooting a film, then had a movie release in February, and was shooting for another Telugu film before the lockdown was announced. I guess none of us really knew what was in store for us back in March, and it took me a while to understand what was happening. There were bouts of anxiety and restlessness. But now, I’ve made peace with it. Our lives have slowed down quite a lot, isn’t it? I am not even sure what we were racing against in the past, but it felt like we were always in a rush.”
Apart from cooking, what has really helped her to cope up and explore her artistic side is painting and sketching, a hobby that she hasn’t revisited ever since she made her foray into films. “I was quite fond of drawing in school, and at the behest of a friend, I started experimenting with it again during the lockdown. I’m not a trained artist, and so, I watch a lot of tutorials on Youtube, and try to draw. There’s quite a lot of self-learning involved,” Ritu adds. “My father is a good painter. I think that’s what inspired me as a kid too.”
For the past few months, Ritu says that she has been trying to paint or sketch three days a week, and each session goes on for about a couple of hours. “It’s become part of my routine now. I’m experimenting with water paintings, acrylic, and pencil sketching. What I really like doing are portraits of women in different moods. I haven’t done anything original though since I’m still at a nascent stage. Sometimes, I would look up for pictures on Pinterest and try to replicate them,” Ritu says.
For now, she says that she hasn’t been able to pinpoint what she’s really good at, but her work has a recurring pattern – You can’t see the entire face of the subject clearly. Does it mean something? “I don’t know if I am trying to convey something,” she laughs, adding, “In fact, my mother pointed it out about this. I read somewhere that ‘Art is never finished, it’s only abandoned’. I guess that’s what I’ve been doing too. I am still trying to learn and get better at it.”
In sketching these portraits and trying to find meaning in her work, Ritu says that she has found a sense of calmness and peace in the process. “I love the feeling of creating something. As artists, that’s what we are doing while acting in a film. It has helped me calm down so much and I’m not that anxious anymore. In fact, I am eager to get back to work soon,” Ritu signs off.
(The author, Hemanth Kumar C R , is a Hyderabad-based journalist and he writes about Telugu cinema, TV shows, and his work has appeared in publications like Firstpost.com, TheNewsMinute.com, SilverScreenIndia, New Indian Express, Film Companion. And 845show.com is his new blog. You can reach out to him on Twitter @crhemanth )