Mirzya

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Mirzya, directed by Rakesh Omprakash Mehra and written by Gulzar, was my second feature film as an assistant to Production Designer Sumit Basu, of Acropolis. We had done extensive research and prep for this film to make it a piece of art and not just a film. The visual treat that Mirzya is wouldn’t be complete without the mention of the Director of Photography, Pawel Dyllus.

Working with a very senior and experienced Production Designer was an amazing learning experience! We had the privilege of detailing and fine-tuning each look of the sets well before the shoot. Designing and creating renderings of the same helped us get a better insight of the final product. Building sets and even special props was another exciting process. Sourcing for property and material in the various locations that we shot in, namely Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur and Mandawa in Rajasthan, also Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake in Ladakh; was a great experience.

 

Colour

The love story that Mirzya is, deals with the principal characters of Adil Mirza and Soochi, their relationship as children and them growing up into the present modern times; interspersed with the folk legend of Mirza and Sahiban, spinning similarities between the two pairs.

To arrive on a basic colour palette for the film we had segmented Mirzya in: Childhood, Folklore, and Present day.

The Childhood of Soochi and Monish (later Adil Mirza) is spent in Jodhpur, hence we picked colours dominant from the area. We also assigned blue and rustic colours to Monish aka Adil Mirza and wove it with Mirza, his counterpart in the folklore. Soochi was assigned happier blue and yellow overtones. Though Sahiban was dominated with deep reds. Another important character was Karan, Soochi’s fiancé, and his folk counterpart Tahir. They were assigned green.

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Mood- elements and colour

A mood chart for the characters in their surroundings was built, each using elements and colours from their environment.

 

  • Childhood of Monish with his mother: Living in Jodhpur with his mother, Monish loves speed, bicycle rides, dart throwing etc. His mother is inclined towards folk art and handicraft and probably makes a living out of it.b1-copy

 

  • Childhood of Soochi with her father, the S.P.: Living in Jodhpur Soochi’s father is the Superintendent of police. He loves reading Shakespeare and has a thirst for collecting antique guns and other items that have a touch the royalty, as a hobby. Soochi lives with him and he’s not only a father but a mother to her as well.b2-copy

 

  • Folklore- Mirza Sahiban: Mirza being the dynamic horseback archer wins the ruby and ultimately the heart of Sahiban in the tournament to determine her suitor. Sahiban the princess seeking love stands out in the bold red and gold.a1-copy

 

  • Folklore- Tahir: Dark and vengeful Tahir the closest competitor to Mirza in the horseback archery tournament, stands out in the dark envious green and rust! Being royal blood he is appalled at Mirza’s audacity to compete with him as suitor to Sahiban.a2-copy

 

  • Adil Mirza at the stables: Stone, wood, mud, metal, leather, are key elements that define Adil Mirza’s stable home. He takes care of the horses at the stud and retires in his own makeshift home there, where we wanted to have washes of the blue that is carried on from his childhood home in Jodhpur. Rustic and raw is what defines Adil’s character here.c1-copy

 

  • Adil at Loharon ki gali: The blacksmiths live here hence the space is dominated with the fiery glow of the burning coal and hot metal. The story of Mirzya is sung and narrated in Loharon ki gali, making this a magical space bringing out the spirit of the lovers. Later in a realistic setting Adil frequents this place so we’ve kept a touch of blue as accents.c2-copy

 

  • Soochi: Even though she has moved out of her childhood home in Jodhpur, we carry forward the blue tones and add accents of yellows and orange for her vibrant character. We see her getting married to Prince Karan and here too we keep the yellows, white and orange in the flowers and other decorations to compliment the blue jewel tones.d2-copy

 

  • Karan: He being the prince has the opulent environment complete with chandeliers, paintings, and crystal artifacts. The use of clean lines in contemporary elements keeping with the traditional royalty of his ancestral home is cleverly fused. An avid polo player he has his own collector’s items. The colour green is evidently used here.d1-copy

 

Set design

As soon as the locations were identified and roughly finalised for the film, we sketched and rendered the looks according to our vision – elements and colour palette. Of the many drawings and renderings that were created by our team, sharing a few personal ones.

  • Loharon Ki Gali: Initially a set for the village was planned. Various plans and even models were created by our team; the following is one of the sketches.

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Later we found a village Mandawa in Rajasthan where we could set up. This setup was used in the film at different time periods, thus the different looks.

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This was the general idea of the blacksmith’s village where the story of Monish/Adil and Soochi’s is narrated in music and dance. In the details of the rendering the bursts of light of the glowing coal and fires for the blacksmith’s work is highlighted..

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Another portion of the same village. The idea was that the nomad blacksmiths, Gadia lohar set up their workshops around this area along with their livestock..

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The same area was then converted to a modern day setup. With temporary shades converted to small structured roofs and different workshops of iron works.

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One of the blacksmiths in this village, Munna lohar’s workshop..

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Some stills from the film..

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  • Folklore: This is where the epic love story of Mirza and Sahibaan unfolds. We see some different locations of the story for this. Of them these are a few sketches and renderings for the sequence of Sahibaan’s wedding that were made during the planning stages.

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Some stills from the film..

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  • Childhood: Monish and Soochi’s childhood days in Jodhpur. Their homes were set up in real locations and dressed by us. Some of the designs..

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Some stills from the film..

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  • Present Day: This is a mix between Adil Mirza’s (Monish) stud farm life, Karan’s palatial spaces and Soochi’s home, where eventually the wedding ceremony happens. Some of the pre-production renderings..

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Some stills from the film..

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Special Props

Some props were specially designed and created for the Mirza-Sahibaan folklore period. We see a horseback archery tournament at the beginning; the contestants are all in to woo Sahibaan. They were categorized into separate CLANS, created by the costume designer, to design a specific look for each according to their geographical conditions. These clans had their own symbols that were transformed into flag masts.

Their bows and arrows were colour coded according to each clan. Quivers and scabbards were separately designed and made. Even their horses could be distinguished by separate horse dressing and horse masks.

Stills from the film..

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Mirzya- in theatres October 2016

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Saat Uchakke

This was a first feature film attempt. Assisting a senior, Vikram Singh from film school, I and Amit were the set dressers. Apart from being the on-set dressers we were heavily involved in the designing and sourcing for the production design from the beginning since we were a small team. Shot majorly in the raw streets of old Delhi, a few scenes were shot in Bombay.

The film directed by Sanjeev Sharma is based on a bunch of petty thieves from Old Delhi and their experiences in and around their neighbourhood! Since it was shot in Delhi we did our sourcing for property in and around Delhi.

Pre-production drawings:

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Production Stills:

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In theatres– October 2016

Laila

Laila is a playback film of the song by the same name from the yesteryear’s hindi film Qurbani (1980).
Directed by Heer Ganjwala and shot by Arun Pandey, the art direction was done by Vipin Kamboj. Keeping the rawness required for the look and feel of the visual concept in this film, the costumes were especially handmade, after sourcing for the suitable materials.

Production stills:

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Watch this playback film here:  L A I L A

Window Display

Window displays had been part of a specialisation in art school. A friend’s own store gave Vipin Kamboj and me an opportunity to design for it. Stores: Eliperi and Tirumala are located in the suburbs of Mumbai. They deal with readymade garments and fabrics respectively.

Eliperi:

Design approach is to bring out a festive and happy mood when a family gets together. We’re showing family and friends coming together for an occasion, of life, in general. Clothes worn by the mannequins would be bright, festive and warm coloured. A home like setting is shown with a couple near a dressing table and friends near the sofa with window backdrop, to recreate a living room.

Treatment: Front facade of arches with pillars is a cut-out with slight relief work of details like jali and pattis. This would require a metal framework with the relief cut-outs pasted on it. The background will be flat mostly with the props also as suggestive form relief. Actual props would include mirror with frame, wall mounted lamp, photo frames, hanging decorative trays.

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When it came to executing our design we came up with another option with a more feasible budget. Since the readymade garment store deals with ethnic garments with a festive appeal, this design was simpler and focused on the bright and bold garments with a backdrop with handmade gaudy gold flowers on a cooler black and white graphic design to match the black and white of the company logo.

Images of the finished window display:

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Tirumala:

Design approach is to focus of the variety of materials where every piece is like an artwork. Hence the fabric is treated like a painting that’s framed.

Treatment: The frames hang from the ceiling overlapping each other like an installation. Each frame has a mix of different fabrics. Some plain fabric stretched out and some with big visible stitches and rope and fabric pieces put together. The background is as plain as possible so that the art works of fabric stand out. Mostly white the separation in between the two floors could have a typo/ tag line. Mannequins are placed only on the ground floor draped in fabric.

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Aamod

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Furniture and interior designer Janhavi Kandarkar launched her own furniture company called Aamod.  Aamod meaning pleasure in Sanskrit, defines the furniture line perfectly for its combination of classic decorative carved wood and contemporary clean lines to make statement pleasurable pieces of wooden furniture and other interior elements.

Logo Design:

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Catalogue Design:

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Diversion Ahead

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This 20 minute diploma film was directed by Rajula Shah and shot by Kumar Saurabh. The film at first revolves around a station master only to then reveal a film crew shooting his story; rather, a film within a film. The preparation work involved finding raw locations to shoot at and brainstorming about each and every character involved in the film.

In doing so we went deep into the minds of each character to create their space, in a real unreal look, which is one of the sequences. Four important characters in the film: Oinam- The D.O.P, Neeli- The Sound Designer, Saranga- The A.D., Samar- The Director.

The SPACES in the form of a room with a singular window:

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The film was majorly shot at Daundaj station, near Pune, Maharashtra. The vast landscape had a peculiar attractiveness which was captured in the film and one of the real locations was used as a miniature in the film.

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A miniature of the actual location of an abandoned control room that was used in the film:

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Initially titled Diversion Ahead, the final project is titled Aisa Nahin Hua Tha Tahira (Jumbled Cans).

The film can be seen here: Aisa Nahin Hua Tha Tahira (Jumbled Cans)

Article: Signs Film Festival

Dwand

This short film was my final project of Production Design in film school. Written and directed by Abhilash Vijayan, this 10 minute film was shot by Sahil Bhardwaj, edited by Navneet Shukla and sound was recorded and designed by Roopak Kalyani (all students of film school).

Story: An adaptation of a South American story by Hernando Tellez, this story revolves around a barber, his conflict between being a sympathiser of the rising naxal movement in his village and his occupation. The small village located in Chhattisgarh had been under a constant doom of the play between the government or military and naxal forces. The situation reflected in the faces of the villagers through their state of mind.

The film starts with the market running and people are up and about, a military march and then the moment the curfew in the village has just lifted and the shops are slowly opening up. The barber shop has an unusual visitor and the major portion of the film deals with the verbal dual between the barber and his customer.

In the initial stage to decide on our set since it was a studio based exercise, we zeroed in on a market place in the village, where we would have a barber shop. Essentially, a lane with shops on either side.

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Recce: As our story was based in a village in Chhattisgarh, our team decided to visit actual locations to get a feel of how the place is in real. We needed to know in and around typical market places in the rural areas where we could locate a barber shop, since that was our primary requirement. We explored a few areas in a stretch between Bilaspur and Raigad, and a few villages around Raigad. This gave us a basic idea of the kind of houses and structures in terms of architecture and geography of the State.

Some reference pictures from the trip to Chhattisgarh:

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Colour palette: One thing that we learnt from our recce was the colour scheme of our set. Talking with the locals there it was easy to find out their preference of colours when it came to the constructions there. Some colours were typical in the landscape. We felt it was best to carry out the colour scheme for our film as it was easily relatable and went perfectly with the feel of our story.

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Plan of Set: Since this was a studio project we had to build everything from scratch and place each and every object that one would normally find in a real location for the audience to believe in its authenticity. Another factor which we had to consider was that we were working in a limited budget and time; hence we couldn’t afford to go elaborate with our set and build only necessary areas which were surely to be shot. We had to greatly depend on the shot division for our film to understand what to build.

We did go according to our initial plan of having a lane with shops on either side. Our recce helped us realise that a market place in a Chhattisgarh village is a mix of houses and later built commercial huts, as a lot of villagers preferred selling things from their houses. Only we needed to fix the kind of shops that were appropriate for our film. So we settled for shops that were basic and would reflect the status of the village. We avoided shops that would need or portray any kind of grandeur or well being. Even the little eating joint is not in a good state, and the pan bidi shop has really little to sell. The scenario when the market is open is dry and sad, and while the curfew is on is drabber. Our plan finally was a crooked lane diverted by a house that stands in the end.

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Lighting: The weather through the film is summer, and in the afternoon… bright and scorching. We planned to have really harsh lighting to deliberately create a visual discomfort, which supported our look and feel.

Costumes: Gamcha is a must for men. Protects from the summer heat, either by covering head and ears from hot air, head for the sun and also used for quick drying of sweat. Gamcha colour is mainly white or bright colours could also be used. Clothing for men would be muted pastels or mostly whites and grey. The little poor could be wearing lungi (blue checks) and baniyan. Footwear, mostly chappals, are in black or brown. Or simple blue and white hawaiian chappal, or bare feet. Talisman and charms around neck or arm.

Old women in Sarees in de-saturated colours with bright accents (blouse could be bright coloured). Minimalistic soiled or oxidised gold and silver jewellery, bangle and nose ring being a must. Have tattooed hands. Talisman and charms around neck or arm. Other women in bright colours.

 

Production Stills:

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