Art of movie making

Art of movie making

IN CONVERSATION

Art of movie making

One of the best experiences to be had on a film set is to visit the studio before and during the shoot. While the first visit will show you the harsh reality of the film world, the second will transport you into reel life. However, few know about the people who are behind this metamorphosis — the art directors.

They work day and night to convert a barren studio floor into a lush green park or a snow-capped mountain or anything you can dream of. But not many can put a face to these creative individuals who give way to our imagination with their realistic set designs.

While everyone knows Omung Kumar, the director of Sarbjit, very few know the name of the person who recreated Sarbjit’s home and the prison he languished in. Meet Vanita Omung Kumar, an art director of the film.

Talking about her work on Sarbjit, Vanita says, “I am used to creating flamboyant sets. So when I was asked to prepare the set for Sarbjit, I had to rely on research, which was based on my interaction with Sarbjit’s family. I got access to the letters which he had written to his sister Dalbir. These had descriptions of the prison in Pakistan, where he was held. I had to transform the studio in Mumbai into a Pakistani prison!”

Vanita also had to create old houses of Punjab. She had to sift through old photographs while constructing them. “The toughest part for any set designer is keeping in mind the time period the film is set in. How will you show a 23-year-old house? How do you find a green patch in a city like Mumbai to place the house in? Within a span of 17 days, I recreated Sarbjit’s house in Mumbai’s only green stretch at Aarey Colony.”

So did she have any creative conflicts with Omung while working on Sarbjit? “Yes. There are times when he disagrees, but my way of working is simple. I always ask him to first take a look at the end result; if he doesn’t like it then, I could always change it. The best part about our relationship is that our likes are the same most of the time.”

Vanita and Omung had known each other for a long time. When Vanita was 16, she met Omung for the first time. “Both my parents are in the ad world, so I was always keen on joining the same industry. Set designing started only after I met Omung. People are amazed at how unaffected we are by the insecurity and ego hassles that are common in industry couples. However, whenever there are differences, I always look to resolve them quickly, while Omung takes times to react.”

As a set designer, Vanita started her career working on live shows and award functions. Later she went on to work on every film that Omung directed. But how does it feel when she sees her own set being destroyed after a shoot? “Initially, I used to feel terrible each time it happened. A set is a creation on pen and paper first. Then a director visualises it and makes it happen. And then suddenly it is torn down after it has served its purpose.”

Vanita believes that the uniqueness which she and Omung offer is key to their success. She adds, “Earlier, Omung and I never thought that we would one day go on to make movies because it was a different world. But director Arjun Sablok of Na Tum Jano Na Hum gave us our first break, and we created something different with our out-of-the-box style. Since then, our focus has always been to outdo our last creation.”

And who is her favourite filmmaker to work with? “The only filmmaker with whom I get along very well is Sanjay Leela Bhansali because we both are equally crazy. I can’t match my craziness with anyone else at this stage,” she says.

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