In a world like Bollywood, where success largely depends on how well you can sell a dream, art directors are critically important. If they can weave the dream well with their creations and engross the audience, the film or serial will run, if not it will spoil the dreams of many others associated with the show. Unfortunately, art direction has never really got its due in terms of recognition. Apart from a Nitin Desai or Nitish Roy, there are very few art directors who are celebrities.
Chokkas Bharaadwaj is one such art director who has been in the industry for long enough, but never really got his dues in terms of recognition. He has recently been in the news for the huge set of a haveli he has put up in the Film City studios in suburban Mumbai for Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo. Tellychakkar spoke to the art director on location.
How long have you been in the industry?
It has been close to 22 years in the industry and throughout as an art director. This despite the fact that I do not have any formal degree in the profession! I am a commerce graduate who came to the film industry looking for work. Luckily for me, famous art director Nitin Desai took me under his tutelage and I worked with him for eight long years. That is all the training I have got and needed. I have also worked briefly with Nitish Roy.
However, if there is one person who is responsible for me becoming an art director, it is undoubtedly Govind Nihalani. He encouraged me a lot to become a successful art director. He is one of the few directors in the industry today who realises the importance of good sets.
You seem to have worked with all the people who matter in the profession!
I am fortunate to have worked with them and projects Hazaar Chaurasia ki Ma, Grahan. Everything I have learned is on the job.
I have a very memorable experience of working with Nitish Roy. As you know he comes from the land of Durga Puja and I feel that is where art direction originated. The Durga Puja pandals were the first instances of set design. I learned a lot from Nitish Roy and Durga Puja pandals.
The huge set you have constructed for Aagle Janam Moh Bitiya Hi Keejo is in news these days. How did you manage to do this?
It is true that you do not come across such huge sets for television sets these days. But the story demanded such a huge set and the producer gave me the freedom to do what I wanted, without looking at budgetary constraints. In fact, I travelled to UP and Bihar to study various havelis there before building the set. You need to do a lot of research before constructing a set like this. I spent close to Rs 1.5 crore for building this set.
Any other serials you are working on?
I am also working for the other Swastik Pictures’ productions – Hindi Hai Hum, Sri Krishna, Mata Ki Chowki and Meerabai (a new show to be launched on Colors). For the new show – Meerabai – I have put up a big set in Baroda.
Don’t you feel sad when the sets you construct are broken down?
It is part of work. The set director’s work is to create and destroy sets. Obviously it is very painful, but I have started accepting it as part of life. At the same time, when I see all of them working on sets that I have created, it makes me feel happy also!