Shivangi Singh: Things are looking up for production designing in realistic cinema too
From being an intern in Sonali Bose’s film Margarita with a Straw to becoming an art director in Karan Johar’s next Jug Jugg Jeeyo, Lucknow-girl Shivangi Singh has carved a niche in the field of production designing.
A self-confessed non-filmi person in school days, she got exposed to world of cinema during her under-grads in fine art from Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi. “Before that I was not into films or TV at all. Arts was all I was interested in and realised that visual art is what I want to do. Slowly I got interested in the world of cinema,” said Shivangi on her visit to her hometown for her mother’s vaccination.
She started working at an art gallery and through Facebook got in touch with film maker Shonali Bose and who was about to was start Margarita… in Delhi. “I joined the crew as a story board artist. I made sketches for the film and learnt the international style of production designing. Then I got a period film Children of War as an assistant art designer followed by legendary Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s film Choti Moti Bateein directed by his wife. Then I shifted to Mumbai where I got Bajrangi Bhaijaan as chief assistant to production designer followed by ads films with Pradeep Sircar.”
For a formal training Shivangi went to Los Angles, US. “After my master’s degree, I became a production design fellow in Hollywood Art Department Union and done did American show Making a Cut as a set designer, some films like Refuge, The Speech and a project for Universal Studio Theme Park.”
With the Covid spread in the US, she came back to Mumbai. “Last year I started a project which was scheduled in Thailand, but it got shelved. Then I got this Varun Dhawan film (JJJ) as an art director. We have shot one schedule in Chandigarh with three schedules remaining to be shot. Since art department is dependent on props, rented furniture and stuff from whole-sale market so work has suffered a lot.”
She feels focus in India on production departments is not as big as it is in Hollywood, but a few Indian directors focus on it too. “Makers like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Ashutosh Gowarikar, Zoya Akhtar and Karan Johar focus a lot on spending on sets and production designing. Bhanu Athaiya got Oscars in ‘80s for costume designing (Gandhi)! Here we make more realistic films and focus on production design is less but Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye winning over Jodha Akbar was a real victory for this art. Gully Boy is another example, so a lot is happening in realistic films in terms of production designing. And things are looking up.”
Few years down the line, direction is on the list for Shivangi, she shared while concluding.