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Not aware of Raja Ravi Varma’s Menaka-Shakuntala painting misused as lesbian couple by adult toy store, says Raja Ravi Varma Foundation

A controversy erupted on November 29 after it was discovered that a sex toys store ‘Besharam’ was using a painting by famous painter Raja Ravi Verma to sell ‘adult toys’. The website used the ‘Menaka Shakuntala’ painting by Raja Ravi Varma and depicted it as if the subjects in the painting were lesbians. Menaka was actually an Apsara and Shakuntala was her daughter, born out of a union with Rishi Vishvamitra. But Besharam depicted them as a lesbian couple, disregarding the sentiments of Hindus.

The story of Menaka and Shakuntala is narrated in Mahabharata, and according to the Adi Parva of the epic, Shakuntala’s son Bharata was the ancestor of the Kauravas and Pandavas. The famous painting by Raja Ravi Varma depicts the moment when Menaka had taken her daughter Shakuntala to heaven, after Shakuntala’s husband king Dushyant failed to recognise her due to a curse.

OpIndia contacted Raja Ravi Varma Foundation over the matter, and to know whether they have authorised Besharam to use the iconic painting. Print Brew, the media partner of the Foundation, responded to our query and said that the work belongs to a private collection and does not belong to the Foundation. And they added that the Foundation did not permit the usage of the said painting.

Furthermore, the Foundation was unaware of the painting being used on such a website. The images of Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings are freely available on the internet. They wrote that most of these images are freely available on the internet, adding that it is shocking that the portal on the said work flagrantly opted to use it for such purposes.

Calling it an ill-conceived idea by the website promoters, the Foundation noted that Raja Ravi Varma is considered a national treasure. To use his imagery where the intent is to mislead the public and grab eyeballs shows disrespect to art and artists in so many ways.

OpIndia found out that the painting is in the private collection of Birla Art, Kolkata. We have contacted them and sought information if they were aware of the usage of the image by the portal. We will update the story accordingly.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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