Your guide to the creative world

The Sun rose over the Amer Fort, Jaipur, and the mirrored ceilings of the palace cast strange, interesting patterns over its colorful tiles and frescoes. The palace was awake, abuzz with the impending visit of the Mughal King, Jalaluddin Muhammed Akbar. He climbs the fort, mounted on his white stallion, the entire scene a picture of gaiety, pomp, and aplomb. All around are sentries on mountain backs, civilians in their best finery, showering flower petals at their Sultan. Jodhaa glimpses his arrival through the jhoola of the palace windows.

Akbar enters the palace, into a beautiful hall decorated with carved pillars, saffron drapes and intricate designs. His eyes, hungry for Jodhaa’s glimpse, search for her amongst the hordes of ladies who have assembled there, wearing a ghoonghat over their rich ensembles to hide the queen’s identity. His task, which is to find his lady love in this assemblage, is accomplished in seconds because let’s face it people, it’s a love story and it would be odd if he could not.


My point is, so much of the beauty and splendor, the sheer memorability of this scene is down to its visual art and architecture. A single missing or misplaced element would shatter the credibility and depth of this scene, and kill our emotional involvement. It is such a pivotal scene, where the Great Akbar, the Sultan, realizes his mistake and seeks forgiveness from his Queen, Jodhaa. In the movie, the transition from the masculine Mughal architecture and bloody war scenes to the more feminine, delicate palaces of the Rajputs automatically sets the mood for the audience, and the force behind this is the Art Director.



The grandeur of the sets in Jodhaa Akbar [Source: Tumblr]


 The Art Director of Jodhaa Akbar is the meticulous, talented wizard Nitin Chandrakant Desai. His work for Jodha Akbar started eight months prior to the shooting. Most of this movie was shot indoors, in the carefully constructed replicas of the interiors of Amer Fort, Agra Fort, and other significant locations. For this scene, only the exterior shot was taken at Amer, the rest was created indoor at Karjah. He used concrete, fiber, asbestos sheets, scaffolding and pipe to create these structures.



 Let’s consider a more modern day example. Love is a universal concept, and Devdas is one her most celebrated icons. How can you show, in a completely novel, interesting way a story as old as time? This is where Sukant Panigrah, the Art Director of DevD comes in, with his contrasting hues and light play. Not one of his artistic scenes bows to conventional images of heartbreak, could Abhay Deol’s self-destruction and ‘emotional atyachaar’ be as poignant and relatable as it seems without this genius’s visual marvels?



Consider Haider. This Shakespeare adaption has been much abused since its first publication with quite a large bunch of adaptations on it. Shraddha Johri and Rupam Paul, as the art directors of this iconic movie, set the mood for Haider’s eventual mental degeneration in the first half with the calm representation of Kashmir, while all the while the feeling of calm before the storm lingers….until the storm does break, and boy-oh-boy, are we swept away! The tension and pathos of tangible in the very air Haider breathes, and it’s all down to the art director of this movie who raised the goosebumps on our skins.




Haider, his many hues and shades [Source: Tumblr]


Previously, Bollywood was marked as an industry that mocked authenticity and research when it came to set design, however, as film directors get more experimental, it has become the art directors job to deliver out of this world sets and props.

Let’s simplify this further. Picture a wedding scene without the classic floral decorations, or an interview at an office without the classic imposing desk! Can you imagine what a party scene would look like with some boring tube light lighting and classical music? It’s all down to the art director to create the visual atmosphere of the movie, capiche?


The art director in a film holds the responsibility of assigning tasks to personnel, acts as a mediator to other departments, and has control over almost every visual aspect of the film. He’s also, quite frequently, involved in the overall concept of the project, called the “creative” or “big idea” or “brainstorming”. It is his creative vision for all the sets and locations that give a production its look and feel.



The work of an art director starts when they receive the script and final schedule, which they then analyze to identify all the props or special effects that they may require.


They also work across departments, for concerns such as computer-generated effects, or the use of vehicles and animals, with a location manager, or even the accountant to meet the budgetary concerns.


 Author: Keerthana U


* This disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to me, and not necessarily to Open Face Media organization, or any other group or individual.*



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