The Paintings of India: The Verdant Hills
Free to Seniors
India, Benoy K. Behl, 26 minutes
Filmmaker Benoy Behl set out to dispel the idea that “Indians had learned the art of painting from the Mughals and the British,” instead choosing to show the continuity of the painting tradition in India beginning in ancient times. Starting from the murals of Ajanta made more than 2,200 years ago, the series covers an extensive range which leads to Indian painting in modern times.
This pioneering project set out to shoot the great treasures of Indian wall paintings and miniatures. This proved to be a Herculean task, as masterpieces of Indian miniature paintings are spread over scores of private collections and museums all over India and around the world. Furthermore, many Indian mural paintings exist in remote sites all over the country. Many of them are extremely difficult to shoot in their dark and constricted locations; Paintings of India captures and presents art that has never been clearly photographed or shown to the world before.
From Ladakh in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the East, one region has an ongoing tradition of Indian mural painting. These are the lands where Vajrayana Buddhism was introduced by the great teacher Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century.
With the fall of the great monasteries and universities of Eastern Indian and of Kashmir after the 12th century, the Trans-Himalayan and Himalayan regions were left to preserve the art and philosophical heritage of Vajrayana Buddhism. In this film, we see how Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, and North-Eastern India shaped and preserved these traditions, which were at that point lost in their places of origin.