The titular 18th-century Indian painter receives a poetical film essay on his life and art in sophomore helmer Amit Dutta’s beautiful but homogenous “Nainsukh.” Rich with gorgeous images and shot in the actual locales in Jammu and Kashmir, this stately meditation uses the artist’s stunning naturalistic works as templates for re-created scenes whose static qualities, even when movement is involved, hold attention for only so long. Produced by Switzerland’s Museum Rietberg, pic is a work for galleries rather than cinemas, though fests with arty bents may show interest.

Influenced by the naturalism of Mughal craftsmen, Nainsukh (Manish Soni, himself a noted miniaturist) leaves his father’s celebrated painting workshop and becomes official artist for the Rajput princes of Jasrota. There he creates delicate works that record daily life at the sophisticated, spendthrift court. Dutta re-creates the refined Rajput world via limited compositions, many shot in the ruins of the Jasrota palace, whose use of space imitates the clarity and simplicity of the artist’s miniatures and drawings. It’s all lovely to look at, enhanced by eye-catching colors and exceptional sound design, but the unvarying tone and too-frequent text panels can become soporific.



  • Production: A Museum Rietberg Zurich production. Produced by Eberhard Fischer. Executive producers, Dhananjai Singh, Varun Dutta. Directed by Amit Dutta. Screenplay, Ayswarya Sankarnarayanan, Dutta.
  • Crew: Camera (color, HD), Mrinal Desai; editors, Samarth Dixit, Dutta, Ujjwal Chandra; music, Dishari Chakraborty; production designers, Manish Soni, Eberhard Fischer; costume designers, Soni, Vishnu Tailor, Ranju Walia. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Horizons), Sept. 8, 2010. Running time: 96 MIN.
  • With: With: Manish Soni, Nitin Goel, K. Rajesh, Sriniwas Joshi, Yamini Joshi, Sat Salarwi, Mohan Singh, Anil Raina, Gautam Vyathit, Ankit Raina, Pushpendra Singh, Brahmaswaroop Mishra, Shubham Vardhan, Dhananjai Singh, Samarth Dixit, Amit Singh, Ajit Singh Rathore, Vishnu Tailor. (Dogri, Kangri dialogue)