Those who watched Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black found it difficult to believe that the entire film was shot on sets. The person behind this, Omung Kumar, goes one step further with Bhansali’s Saawariya, taking the audience to a world of fantasy. The art director speaks to HT City.
The set of Saawariya looks more lavish than that of Black.
No other Bollywood film has such elaborate and finely-crafted sets. It’s the best set that I have designed.
Have you tried to give it a surreal look?
The promos are not even a fraction of what one sees in the film. We have made it look like a fantasy world. Every frame in the film has this surreal look and everything is intentional. This was what Bhansali wanted. He sought to highlight romance as much as possible.
Bhansali is known to be perfectionist. Does that reflect in your sets?
Definitely. That makes my job easier. In Saawariya, we discussed the look of the movie for days.<b1>
Have you tried to maintain a theme?
The blue tone is sustained throughout the film. As it’s a fantasy world, we have tried to recreate a lot of things. Most of the set is inspired by paintings, especially Kashmiri, Rajasthani and a lot of works of Van Gough. The set also looks like a painting.
It must have been quite exhausting…
It was not only exhausting but also inspiring. We had to devote a lot of time to recreating boats, statues, white peacocks, pigeons, snow and fog. We haven’t given the town a name in the film. It might be any place such as Varanasi, Simla, Paris or Venice — our idea was to incorporate the look of all the beautiful places in the world.
So, the audience will be on a trip to a fantasy world…
They will be in for a treat. It’s like poetry in motion and that is reflected through the sets. I have tried to make it look like the set of Moulin Rouge and Awara, which have been inspirations. The night shots look better with the black becoming prominent. Each set took at least 25 days to be constructed and there were more than 250 people working at a time.
Was it a conscious effort to recreate the RK Films Logo on the sets?
Sanjay wanted it because Ranbir (Kapoor) was making his debut and it was a tribute to Raj Kapoor. Moreover, Raj Kapoor is the symbol of romance and Saawariya is all about that.
You must be disappointed about not getting an award for Black?
It was a compliment, as people did not believe that we had constructed the entire Simla town on sets. Sanjay had to go with the photographs to the jury members to prove that it was a set.
Where do we see you next?
In Harry Baweja’s Love Story 2050. It’s completely different, though the look is again surreal. The film talks of time machines and we had to make the sets to look like the world would in 2050.