Imagine... Silk Smitha in Van Gogh’s ‘Wheat Field with Cypresses’, Mani Ratnam’s ‘O Kadhal Kanmani’ in Van Gogh’s ‘Road Running Beside the Paris Ramparts’, Aalavandhan’s Kamal Haasan with Fight Club’s David Fincher in Menahem Golan’s ‘Over the Top’, Dear Zindagi with Claude Monet’s ‘The Boardwalk on the B each at Trouville’...
This is not a random list of random stars and movie characters juxtaposed with random world famous paintings? This, actually, is what Kalakki is all about.
It all started on 23 September, when Charles Britto came across a black and white picture of actor Silk Smitha on her death anniversary and was inspired to add artist Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Wheat Field with Cypresses’ in the background. What came out was beautifully altered picture that soon became a hit on social media.
Seeing the massive response, Britto and his friend Mohammed Salegh started their official page on Instagram, Kalakkii. The two friends put together starkly different images based on ideologies, eras or even a significant message conveyed in a movie.
Two Chennai Boys Who Made Tamil Cinema ‘Artsy’
Born in Chennai, Britto studied engineering and pursued his master’s from the School of Arts and Aesthetics at JNU in Delhi.
“I am not a practicing artist actually. In Chennai or in Delhi. I have done a little theatre...but it all actually started with (love for) films. When I went to Delhi, I was into visual arts, would visit galleries,” Britto said.
Mohammed Salegh, on the other hand, has completed his MBA and is now working for a private firm in Chennai. Dabbling with graphics and digital art is his favourite pass time.
One Image, Infinite Interpretations
The duo’s favourite mashup so far has been a rendition of a scene from Maari Selvaraj’s Pariyerum Perumal mixed with Caspar David Friedrich’s ‘Wanderer above the Sea of Fog’.
Britto said that this was indeed one of the most liked pictures and he was quite surprised to see people come up with different interpretations.
To give you context, the dog, Karuppi, in the film is symbolic of the victims of caste hegemony in the society.
“In the movie, the dog dies in the beginning and people said it didn’t deserve that kind of an ending. So, the image, they felt, did justice to show that both of them are finally in a peaceful place. And some also thought it was like Pariyerum Perumal and Karuppi meeting in dog world,” said Britto.
Another masterpiece is the one with Vedha, a grey character from the movie, Vikram Vedha, sitting across the table with Heath Ledger’s Joker.
Britto initially wanted to juxtapose a ‘good guy’ against an ultimate villain like Joker, but Salegh wanted to go for a twist.
"“Both of them are villains, but they have different ideologies: Vedha cares for what is happening around him. But Joker, he is not after the money and he doesn’t care..like he says, he is like a dog who runs after a car and doesn’t know what to do if he catches it.”" - Mohammed Salegh, Artist
Another favourite is actor Dhanush’s character from Vada Chennai set in Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Prisoners’ Round’. The Vetrimaran super hit revolves around the intricate lives of gangsters and most of the movie is spent in jail cells.
“For this image of Dhanush, I used Van Gogh’s painting, where prisoners are being taken around. And in his film (Vada Chennai), a major part of it happens in the prison. That’s how I mashed it up,” Britto said.
In a mix of films made in the millennial age, Britto and Salegh threw in a few retro specials as well.
Actor Sivaji laughing under Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’, actor-politician MG Ramachandran in his iconic hat and white pants riding ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’, legendary KR Vijaya sipping coffee with the lady from ‘Automat’, etc.
Creating Impressions, One Mashup at a Time
Whether on Twitter or on Instagram, the response has been overwhelming, and Kalakki has even received requests to custom make prints for people.
Britto’s recent post was a mashup of The Joker at Jawaharlal University in New Delhi, with title ‘Occupy Freedom Square’.
The mashup of Farhan Akhtar from Bhaag Milkha Bhaag with the iconic image of Usain Bolt at the Men's 100m sprint at Rio in 2016 grabbed the attention of the actor himself. He took to Instagram to commend their creativity.
The duo were even asked to create promotional posters for the film, Oh my Kadavule, and the result is quite interesting.
“We are getting a few offers. We have even been told to work on a lyric video,” said Britto.
The duo said they are overwhelmed with the response they have received so far. And they add that they still have a sea of ideas yet to explore. Well, we are not complaining. Keep the mashups comin’!
. Read more on India by The Quint.RSS & BJP’s Nehru-Netaji ‘Cosplay’: Irony Dies a Thousand DeathsMeet Artists Who Put Joker in JNU, Silk Smitha in Van Gogh’s Art . Read more on India by The Quint.