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Maitreyi Ramakrishnan of ‘Never Have I Ever’ Loves Van Gogh

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan of ‘Never Have I Ever’ Loves Van Gogh
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Maitreyi Ramakrishnan of ‘Never Have I Ever’ Loves Van Gogh

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan of ‘Never Have I Ever’ Loves Van Gogh

Cobalt and ultramarine blue swirled across the floors and walls. A moon has appeared. Then stars. And the tangled branches of the cypress trees. “’Starry Night’,” Maitreyi Ramakrishnan whispered on a sweltering July morning. “It’s like the headlining act.”

Ms. Ramakrishnan, 19, the star of the popular Netflix teen comedy “Never Have I Ever”, had arrived in New York City a few days earlier. Between the showers (“This amount of thunderstorm isn’t normal, is it?” She said), she and her castmates had appeared in dating for thousands of young fans. .

Because the first season premiered in April 2020, during the first wave of lockdowns, and the second didn’t land until July, Ms Ramakrishnan had never really met her fans in person. “I was like, oh, this show is really popular,” she said.

As it was her first time in the city, Mrs. Ramakrishnan, who grew up in a suburb of Toronto, had taken the time to eat pizza at Patsy’s in Midtown Manhattan (“Like, really the best pizza,” he said. she says) and at the Museum of Modern Art, where she had seen the actual “Starry Night” (“Like, discreet in a corner”).

She had not yet reached her main tourist goal, to see “a New York street rat”. But on that sticky Monday morning, she and her family had come to “Immersive Van Gogh,” an interactive art exhibit at Warehouse Pier 36 on the Lower East Side that animates Vincent van Gogh’s greatest hits and some obscurities. . She had fallen in love with the painter when she was younger, admiring his use of color and the way the paintings seemed to invite a personal connection. On her 16th birthday, she and her family baked a “Starry Night” inspired cake.

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Ms Ramakrishnan emerged from a black SUV in a vibrant, peony-patterned Stine Goya wrap dress. Her high heeled sandals and swingy shoulder bag matched her orange mask. The eye shadow, the violet of van Gogh’s irises, clashed happily; a gold ring shone in his nostril.

As her parents hovered nearby, she and her 22-year-old brother, Vishwaa Ramakrishnan, a senior rising to McGill University, made their way into the dark interior, past information signs and a snack bar. who sold mocktails and lollipops printed with van Gogh’s face.

Further inside, Mrs. Ramakrishnan was facing a mirror sculpture falling in the middle of the room. “I don’t know if I’m seeing him well,” she said, confronting her own reflection. “I would be doing really badly in a maze of mirrors.”

And yet, Mrs. Ramakrishnan didn’t seem particularly confused or awkward. Even in her heeled sandals, she walked confidently, criticizing the show with the devastating tongue-in-cheek of a teenage girl. “Now the artistic rave begins,” she said, as Edith Piaf’s music morphed into an EDM track. A member of staff handed him a plastic sunflower and a branded floor pillow. She accepted both with grace.

In “Never Have I Ever”, Ms. Ramakrishnan portrays Devi, an Indo-American high school student who goes through adolescence in a more awkward way. Volatile, impulsive, clever in books and a jerk, Devi often lets her teenage rage get the better of her.

“I’m not that actively angry,” Ms. Ramakrishnan said. But she sympathizes with Devi and hopes the character evolves into a better, happier person. When fans ask her which of her boys crushes Devi – whether it’s Team Paxton or Team Ben – she has a practical answer: Team Devi. “Devi really has to start loving herself,” she said.

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Ms. Ramakrishnan is also evolving. When she was chosen for “Never Have I Ever,” she postponed her place in the theater program at York University in Toronto. She recently rescheduled her specialty again, redirecting her major to studies in human rights and equity.

In the spring, when India was ravaged by the pandemic, she organized a ‘Never Have I Ever’ reading table, which raised over $ 100,000. She takes pride in playing a character of South Asian descent and speaks openly about the need for more such characters and stories. “It’s not fair to force an entire community to settle for Devi,” she said.

Gradually, she and her brother made their way to the main hall of the exhibition, where a 35-minute film that animates van Gogh’s greatest hits was screened on every available surface. Flowers were blooming, a train was passing, fields were sliding. The animation lingered on the image of a skeleton smoking a cigarette. “It makes sense, majoring in philosophy,” Ms. Ramakrishnan said, referring to her brother’s university studies.

“I think he’s just, like, an unappreciated genius,” he said.

After a few marsh lilies and town squares and a line drawing of a room in Arles (“Pictionary!” Shouted Mrs Ramakrishnan), the film ended. She and her brother stayed for the credits, then followed the exit signs that dropped them off at a gift shop.

Mrs. Ramakrishnan browsed the abundance of goods with skepticism and pleasure. She examined a van Gogh brand jigsaw puzzle, a photo book, a candle that read, “You are a magical unicorn. She wondered what van Gogh would think and if he wanted royalties.

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“It’s so crazy that it wasn’t liked in his day and now it’s like, wait, what?”

Through double doors, Mrs. Ramakrishnan returned in the damp morning. No rats appeared, but she saw a garbage barge pass by. “Nifty,” she said. Three young fans approached her breathlessly. Then a mother and two daughters. She posed for pictures with each of them.


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