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Bollywood’s luke looks

Posted by jahanzaibmemon on December 15, 2007

They are your three hours of escape to a wonderland where everything is luxe, rich and just perfect. The ‘made in Bollywood’, films have no space for the regular and boring, everything has to be on a level that takes the collective breaths of the audience away.

Avant garde is for oldies, Gen i and its cinema – while being realistic – comes with an array of designer labels and everything that spells luxury. And with such demanding audience, Bollywood has to create it all on the home turf – the residence of a multi-millionaire, to an English castle, to a Gothic church, to historical forts to the ’70s retro. The focus is firmly on the ‘look’ of the film these days. Be it unusual stories, costumes, props or film sets, all are thrown together to add to the visual splendour

A slice of wonderland
Alfred Hitchcock believed that drama is life with the dull bits cut out, and Indian filmmakers seem to be strict adherents of this mantra. So, when the directors put up their sets – the brief to the designers is clear – spare no cost. A perfect example of this dictum is Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who is said to have told his set designers during the making of Saawariya , “Give me a world where no one has ever lived before, a painting which no one has ever painted.” The result was a make-believe town – in 10 sets, no less – that was a mix of an ethereal-like architecture and Moulin Rouge.

Whether people liked the plot or not, Saawariya did get rave reviews for its look. But then, Sanjay ‘ Devdas ’ Bhansali has always been a perfectionist when it comes to creating a symphony on celluloid. As the set designer Omung Kapoor revealed recently, “Wooden planks, cement (for water tanks), lot of mouldings, paint, fibre, shimmer, fabric and 10,000 bulbs went towards creating the sets and props like the large Buddha, the almost eerie bridge overlooking a lake in the middle of the town with real lotuses and specially designed boats, a clock tower and neon signs.”

The feel – royale
Another stickler for perfection, when it comes to the look of his film is Ashutosh Gowariker. His ambitious Jodhaa Akbar also seems to have got its sets right, from the look of it. Says set designer Nitin Desai, “About 20 per cent of the money is invested in the sets and backdrop these days. So, the bigger the budget, the better it is the movie’s ‘look’. For Jodhaa Akbar, the sets were spread across six-and-a-half acres of land. Agra Fort, the forts of Jaipur and a lot of Delhi has been replicated for the film.”

Says Ashutosh, “Landscape is as important as the film’s characters. When I was making Lagaan and had to shoot the climax scene, I wanted to give the playground area a stadium feel. So I filled the area with about 10,000 people. Even in Jodhaa Akbar, the film has got its feel right.”

Feeling indulgent
Karan Johar’s films stand out for their sets too. “I have always liked opulence and luxury in my movies. My characters are from real life, they are one of us! So, if the sets are rich then where is the problem? Every director has a vision and this is my vision,” he says. He defines his sets as his indulgence. “Yes, it is the ultimate indulgence. I have always taken out pieces from my life and made them into a 70 mm dream. So, the look of the film also has to be as close to life as possible,” he adds.

A very important part of the feel of the movie is the look given to the characters. Stylist Anahita Shroff Adjania, who gave actors like Aishwarya Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan an ultra cool makeover in Dhoom II says, “The look of the character is as important to the film as the sets. The characters in today’s films are real people. They come with their own sets of rules and beliefs. They make their own statements. Therefore, the clothes that they wear have to be closer to life too. Depending on whether they are from Mumbai or Los Angeles, they have to fit into the character and the story. Considering the audience of today is so particular about what they wear and the brands they follow, we can’t go wrong here.”

But what, according to her, is really indulgent? “That’s when you do a period or an epic film – then opulence and luxury are the watchwords while hunting for the right kind of clothes and accessories.”

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