Kalakki: When Vincent Van Gogh met Silk Smitha
Charles Britto and Mohamed Salegh open up about their viral series Kalakki, which features mash-ups of Tamil cinema scenes and iconic paintings
Lately, as you scroll through your Twitter timeline, you keep spotting images of Tamil and Malayalam stars from popular scenes but Photoshopped into the backdrop of iconic paintings. Ulagam Suttrum Valiban's MG Ramachandran in Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa, KR Vijaya sipping tea in Edward Hopper’s Automat... Naturally, we wondered what was going on.
Started by Charles Britto as a hobby, the pictures got widespread attention, which led him to come up with an entire series of mash-ups called Kalakki. Along with Charles, his school friend Mohamed Salegh teamed up for this unique series, which now has a cult following on social media.
Speaking to Cinema Express, the duo shares their inspirations and the future they envision for Kalakki.
Charles begins, “There are many Instagram handles, who do these mash-ups for Hollywood films. I thought we should try it for our films. That’s how it started.” His first creation is a superimposed image of Silk Smitha on Vincent Van Gogh’s Wheat Field With Cypresses, which became viral on Twitter.
While Charles, an engineering graduate, did his Masters in School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU, Mohamed is an MBA graduate, who learnt to Photoshop out of passion.
When asked if there is an underlying meaning for each mash-ups, Charles says, "Not every picture. A few of them do have meaning. For example, Hedge Ledger's Joker in Francis Bacon's Figure With Meat... Bacon's paintings are chaotic. After uploading it, a follower commented by saying that Christopher Nolan was inspired by Bacon's painting while creating Joker for Dark Knight. I didn't even know that before."
Mohamed adds, "Many times, people come up with their interpretations of the pictures, which are different from ours. It is interesting to see how the works take different dimensions with the viewers."
Charles shares the name for such derivative works: "It is called Appropriation Art, where artists use pre-existing work and make changes to create something new. We are only doing a basic level of such appropriation."
Many of their works use iconic artist Vincent Van Gogh's paintings. "His paintings are popular, so the viewer can relate to them immediately. Also, most of his paintings are of landscape, so we can easily place any subject into it," says Charles.
Mohamed adds, "We don't want to make a lot of changes to the original work and remove their essence. We want to retain the intended meaning of the artists even while making changes to them."
Ask them about the future of Kalakki and Mohamad says, "We have secured a good number of followers. A few have approached us to make some customised pics for them. We are thinking about how to take it forward."